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25 pages, 429 KiB  
Article
Perceptions and Experiences of Inequity for Women of Refugee Background Having a Baby during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Melbourne, Australia
by Fran Hearn, Stephanie J. Brown, Josef Szwarc, Shadow Toke, May Alqas Alias, Maryaan Essa, Shogoufa Hydari, Ashay Baget and Elisha Riggs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21(4), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph21040481 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Listening to What Matters is an exploratory descriptive qualitative study that aimed to (1) understand how women of refugee background in Melbourne, Australia experienced access to health information and maternity and/or early parenting care during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) whether pandemic health [...] Read more.
Listening to What Matters is an exploratory descriptive qualitative study that aimed to (1) understand how women of refugee background in Melbourne, Australia experienced access to health information and maternity and/or early parenting care during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) whether pandemic health directives had an impact on structural inequities for women of refugee background who received maternity and/or early parenting care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 41 participants including 17 women of refugee background, who identified as belonging to the Karen, Assyrian Chaldean, Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan, Sudanese, or South Sudanese communities and 24 health and social care professionals who identified as providing pregnancy or early parenting care during the pandemic in the north western suburbs of Melbourne. Interviews with women were conducted in preferred languages by community researchers. Interviews with professionals were conducted in English by researchers. Reflexive thematic data analysis included constructivist positionality and a trauma and violence informed approach. The results reported in this paper include three themes, with four accompanying subthemes, as follows: theme (1), ‘Structural inequities and the toll of the pandemic’; theme (2), ‘Supportive infrastructure’; and theme (3), ‘Cultural safety during the pandemic’. The results demonstrate that cumulative negative impacts such as unequal access to health information, family separation and isolation, inadequate household income, and mental and social health concerns had the potential to amplify pre-existing structural inequities for women of refugee background. Community engagement facilitated by bicultural workers, interpreters, and trusted care providers facilitated fast-paced, two-way communication that built capacity and health literacy for women who were unable to speak English and unfamiliar with the health care system and, improved experiences of care. More research is needed to understand how the intersectional cumulative impacts of structural inequities have affected maternal and neonatal health outcomes for women of refugee background during the pandemic, as well as any differences in maternal and neonatal health outcomes between Australian-born and refugee background women and babies. Full article
22 pages, 2104 KiB  
Article
Modeling Studies of the Mechanism of Context-Dependent Bidirectional Movements of Kinesin-14 Motors
by Ping Xie
Molecules 2024, 29(8), 1792; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29081792 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Kinesin-14s, a subfamily of the large superfamily of kinesin motor proteins, function mainly in spindle assembly and maintenance during mitosis and meiosis. KlpA from Aspergillus nidulans and GiKIN14a from Giardia intestinalis are two types of kinesin-14s. Available experimental results puzzlingly showed that while [...] Read more.
Kinesin-14s, a subfamily of the large superfamily of kinesin motor proteins, function mainly in spindle assembly and maintenance during mitosis and meiosis. KlpA from Aspergillus nidulans and GiKIN14a from Giardia intestinalis are two types of kinesin-14s. Available experimental results puzzlingly showed that while KlpA moves preferentially toward the minus end in microtubule-gliding setups and inside parallel microtubule overlaps, it moves preferentially toward the plus end on single microtubules. More puzzlingly, the insertion of an extra polypeptide linker in the central region of the neck stalk switches the motility direction of KlpA on single microtubules to the minus end. Prior experimental results showed that GiKIN14a moves preferentially toward the minus end on single microtubules in either tailless or full-length forms. The tail not only greatly enhances the processivity but also accelerates the ATPase rate and velocity of GiKIN14a. The insertion of an extra polypeptide linker in the central region of the neck stalk reduces the ATPase rate of GiKIN14a. However, the underlying mechanism of these puzzling dynamical features for KlpA and GiKIN14a is unclear. Here, to understand this mechanism, the dynamics of KlpA and GiKIN14a were studied theoretically on the basis of the proposed model, incorporating potential changes between the kinesin head and microtubule, as well as the potential between the tail and microtubule. The theoretical results quantitatively explain the available experimental results and provide predicted results. It was found that the elasticity of the neck stalk determines the directionality of KlpA on single microtubules and affects the ATPase rate and velocity of GiKIN14a on single microtubules. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical Biology in Asia)
15 pages, 3180 KiB  
Article
Growth and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes of Preterm Infants Born < 26 Weeks Gestation before and after Implementation of a Nutrition-Care Bundle
by Giulia Res, Rosine F. Bishara, Paige Terrien Church, Rena Rosenthal, Rita Maria Bishara, Annie Dupuis, Elizabeth Asztalos and Rudaina Banihani
Children 2024, 11(4), 475; https://doi.org/10.3390/children11040475 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background: This study aimed to assess the impact of a nutrition-care bundle on growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes of micro-preterm infants born in a level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by two years corrected age. Methods: A nutrition-care bundle emphasizing the prompt initiation [...] Read more.
Background: This study aimed to assess the impact of a nutrition-care bundle on growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes of micro-preterm infants born in a level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by two years corrected age. Methods: A nutrition-care bundle emphasizing the prompt initiation of parenteral nutrition at birth, initiation of enteral feeds within 6 h after birth, and early addition of human milk fortifiers was implemented in 2015 for infants born < 26 weeks gestation. This before-and-after study evaluated growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants born between 2012–2013 (before-nutrition-bundle, BNB) and 2016–2017 (after-nutrition-bundle, ANB). Results: A total of 145 infants were included in the study. Infants in the ANB group (n = 73) were smaller (birthweight and gestational age), and there were more male infants and multiples included compared to the BNB group (n = 72). Enteral feeds and fortifiers started earlier in the ANB group. Growth velocity and weight z-score changes were similar in both groups during NICU stay and post-discharge. Systemic steroid use, but not cohort, was linked to lower Bayley scores across all domains. Conclusions: Implementing a nutrition-care bundle was not consistently associated with improved weight gain and neurodevelopmental outcomes in the micro-preterm infant population, possibly due to ongoing high-quality nutritional care by the clinical team. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Care and Outcome of the Extreme Preterm Infant)
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11 pages, 642 KiB  
Article
Assessing Amylose Content with Iodine and Con A Methods, In Vivo Digestion Profile, and Thermal Properties of Amylosucrase-Treated Waxy Corn Starch
by Inmyoung Park and Mohamed Mannaa
Foods 2024, 13(8), 1203; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13081203 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
In this study, waxy corn starch was modified with 230 U or 460 U of amylosucrase (AS) from Neisseria polysaccharea (NP) to elongate the glucan. The amylose content of the AS-modified starches was determined using iodine and concanavalin A (Con A) methods, and [...] Read more.
In this study, waxy corn starch was modified with 230 U or 460 U of amylosucrase (AS) from Neisseria polysaccharea (NP) to elongate the glucan. The amylose content of the AS-modified starches was determined using iodine and concanavalin A (Con A) methods, and their in vivo digestion, thermal, swelling, and pasting properties were evaluated. The amylose content of AS-treated starches was not significantly different (p > 0.05) when using the Con A method but was significantly higher than that of non-AS-treated samples when using the iodine method. In vivo, rats fed AS-treated starch had significantly lower blood glucose levels at 15 min than other rats; rats fed 460 U AS had lower blood glucose levels at 30 and 60 min than non-AS-treated rats. DSC analysis revealed that AS-treated starches exhibited higher initial, melting, and completion temperatures. Minimal volume expansion was observed by swelling factor analysis, while a Rapid Visco Analyzer assessment revealed that they had higher pasting onset temperatures, lower peak viscosities, and no trough viscosity compared to native starch. The elongated glucans in AS-treated starch reinforced their crystalline structure and increased slowly digestible and enzyme-resistant starch content. Overall, AS-treated starch showed unique thermal properties and a reduced blood glucose index upon administration. This distinctive characteristic of NPAS-treated starch makes it a good candidate food or non-food material for cosmetic products, medical materials, and adhesives. Full article
18 pages, 14634 KiB  
Article
Characterization of ZrBSiTaNx Films
by Kuo-Hong Yeh, Li-Chun Chang and Yung-I Chen
Coatings 2024, 14(4), 487; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings14040487 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
In this study, ZrBSiTa and (ZrBSiTa)Nx films were deposited on silicon wafers through direct current magnetron cosputtering. The nitrogen flow ratio (RN2) of the reactive gas and the sputter power applied to the Si target (PSi) were the [...] Read more.
In this study, ZrBSiTa and (ZrBSiTa)Nx films were deposited on silicon wafers through direct current magnetron cosputtering. The nitrogen flow ratio (RN2) of the reactive gas and the sputter power applied to the Si target (PSi) were the variables in the fabricating processes. The influence of the N and Si contents on the mechanical properties, thermal stability, and oxidation behavior of the ZrBSiTa and (ZrBSiTa)Nx films were investigated. All the as-fabricated films exhibited amorphous structures. The RN2 set at 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 caused the ZrBSiTaNx films to exhibit high N contents of 52–55, 62–64, and 63–64 at.%, respectively. The Si content of the ZrBSiTa films increased from 0 to 42 at.% as PSi increased from 0 to 150 W, and this was accompanied by decreases in hardness and Young’s modulus values from 19.1 to 14.3 GPa and 264 to 242 GPa, respectively. In contrast, the increase in Si content of the (ZrBSiTa)Nx films from 0 to 21 at.% increased the hardness from 11.5 to 14.0 GPa, and Young’s modulus from 207 to 218 GPa. Amorphous BN and SiNx phases in the (ZrBSiTa)Nx films varied the structural and mechanical properties. The thermal stability of the (ZrBSiTa)Nx films was evaluated by annealing at 800–900 °C for 10–30 min in Ar. The oxidation behavior of the (ZrBSiTa)Nx films was evaluated in the ambient air at 800 °C for 0.5–24 h. The amorphous (ZrBSiTa)Nx films with a high Si content had high thermal stability and oxidation resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multilayer and Functional Graded Coatings—2nd Edition)
13 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Strategic Ensilage of Signal Grass Pastures in Two Seasons in a Tropical Region
by Tâmara Chagas da Silveira, Karina Guimarães Ribeiro, João Paulo Santos Roseira, Wagner Sousa Alves, Danielle Nascimento Coutinho, Albert José dos Anjos and Odilon Gomes Pereira
Agronomy 2024, 14(4), 822; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14040822 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
In tropical regions, grass silage can be produced from the pasture in the rainy season to feed animals during the dry season. We evaluated the chemical composition and fermentation characteristics of ensiled signal grass (Urochloa decumbens Stapf. Basilisk) fertilized with nitrogen (N) [...] Read more.
In tropical regions, grass silage can be produced from the pasture in the rainy season to feed animals during the dry season. We evaluated the chemical composition and fermentation characteristics of ensiled signal grass (Urochloa decumbens Stapf. Basilisk) fertilized with nitrogen (N) or intercropped with calopo (Calopogonium mucunoides Desv.) with and without microbial inoculant. We used a 4 × 2 factorial scheme in a randomized block design, with two blocks and two treatments per block, considering p > 0.05. We studied signal grass fertilized with 0 kg ha−1 of N (0 N), 50 kg ha−1 of N (50 N), or 100 kg ha−1 of N (100 N), or intercropped with calopo legume (LEG), with (I) or without (WI) inoculant, in two seasons. During the dry–water transition, lower concentrations of butyric acid were observed in 50 N and LEG silages (2.77 and 2.55 g kg−1 dry matter, DM) (inoculated) compared to control (7.77 g kg−1 DM). During the water–dry transition, higher concentrations of crude protein were observed in 100 N and LEG silages (71.90 and 54.6 g kg−1 DM) than in 0 N (46.3 g kg−1 DM). The signal grass–calopo intercropping is an alternative to nitrogen fertilization, as it provides forage with a higher protein content and silage with satisfactory fermentative characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prospects for the Development of Silage and Green Fodder)
15 pages, 3237 KiB  
Article
Synthesis, Spectral Characterization, and Structural Modelling of Di- and Trinuclear Iron(III) Monensinates with Different Bridging Patterns
by Nikolay Petkov, Alia Tadjer, Svetlana Simova, Zara Cherkezova-Zheleva, Daniela Paneva, Radostina Stoyanova, Rositsa Kukeva, Petar Dorkov and Ivayla Pantcheva
Inorganics 2024, 12(4), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/inorganics12040114 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
In the present study, we report the solid-state isolation and structural characterization of novel iron(III) complexes of the veterinary antibiotic monensin. Monensic acid (MonH × H2O) forms a dinuclear complex of composition with FeCl3 [FeCl(Mon)2]2 (1 [...] Read more.
In the present study, we report the solid-state isolation and structural characterization of novel iron(III) complexes of the veterinary antibiotic monensin. Monensic acid (MonH × H2O) forms a dinuclear complex of composition with FeCl3 [FeCl(Mon)2]2 (1), while its interaction with FeSO4 leads to the isolation of a triangular oxo-ferric coordination species [Fe3O(Mon × H2O)6(H2O)2(OH)] (2). During the procedure resulting in 2, oxidation of the Fe(II) ions by atmospheric oxygen was observed. In the presence of organic bases, both complexation reactions proceeded to successfully deprotonate the carboxylic function of the ligand. Iron(III) complexes 1 and 2 were characterized by IR, EPR, NMR, and Mössbauer spectroscopies as well as with thermal (TG-DTA/MS) and elemental analyses. In addition, the structures of the two coordination compounds were modelled and selected calculated parameters were compared with the experimental results. The biological assay revealed the enhanced antibacterial potential of the newly obtained complexes against the Gram-positive aerobic microorganisms Bacillus cereus and Bacillus subtilis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metal Complexes Diversity: Synthesis, Conformations, and Bioactivity)
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20 pages, 3683 KiB  
Article
Dual-Band 2 × 1 Monopole Antenna Array and Its MIMO Configuration for WiMAX, Sub-6 GHz, and Sub-7 GHz Applications
by Sanaa Iriqat, Sibel Yenikaya and Mustafa Secmen
Electronics 2024, 13(8), 1502; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13081502 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
This study introduces a cost-effective monopole antenna array and its MIMO configuration. The single element consists of a rectangular patch monopole featuring five circular slots at the center, accompanied by two thin slots at the top, offering a wide bandwidth (2–7.62 GHz) and [...] Read more.
This study introduces a cost-effective monopole antenna array and its MIMO configuration. The single element consists of a rectangular patch monopole featuring five circular slots at the center, accompanied by two thin slots at the top, offering a wide bandwidth (2–7.62 GHz) and a peak gain of 3.8 dBi. For gain improvement, a 2 × 1 antenna array is demonstrated. This antenna array exhibits dual-band behavior; spans from 2 to 3.71 GHz and from 5.9 to 7.54 GHz; covers the 2.5 GHz band (2.3–2.7 GHz), a significant portion of the n78 band (3.3–3.71 GHz), and the n96 band (5.925–7.125 GHz); and is assigned to WiMAX, sub-6 GHz, and sub-7 GHz applications, respectively. The antenna array achieves a peak gain of 6.47 dBi. Lastly, a two-element MIMO configuration derived from the 2 × 1 array is designed. Implementing a defected ground structure (DGS) on the ground plane plays a crucial role in enhancing the isolation from 7 dB to 20 dB. The presented MIMO antenna covers the desired frequency bands of 2.5 GHz, n78, and n96 with a peak gain of 7.5 dBi and high radiation efficiency (<99%), which qualifies it for WiMAX, sub-6 GHz, and sub-7 GHz applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antenna Design and Its Applications)
17 pages, 1435 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Soil–Water Characteristic Curve and Microstructure of Undisturbed Loess
by Ye Tan, Fuchu Dai, Zhiqiang Zhao, Jian Zhou and Wei Cheng
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(8), 3329; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14083329 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Long-term irrigation promotes the infiltration of water in the thick, stratified loess layer, significantly raising the groundwater table and triggering a series of landslides in loess platform areas. The soil–water characteristic curve (SWCC) of loess buried at different depths affects the unsaturated infiltration [...] Read more.
Long-term irrigation promotes the infiltration of water in the thick, stratified loess layer, significantly raising the groundwater table and triggering a series of landslides in loess platform areas. The soil–water characteristic curve (SWCC) of loess buried at different depths affects the unsaturated infiltration process and is intricately connected to the soil’s microstructure. The SWCCs, scanning electron microscope (SEMs), and pore size distributions (PSDs) for five sets of undisturbed loess samples at depths ranging from 3.4 to 51.9 m are shown in this paper. The results indicate that the fitting parameter air entry value (AEV) of the SWCC rises from 13.67 kPa to 40.19 kPa as the depth increases from 3.4 to 51.9 m. And the saturated volumetric water content drops by 10.9%, with a notable SWCC shape difference between the transition and residual zones observed. Additionally, the total porosity of undisturbed loess falls by 12% when the depth increases from 3.4 to 51.9 m, while the macropores and mesopores reduce by 3.6% and 12.1%, respectively. These findings highlight the control of the pore structure on the SWCC and emphasize the correspondence between the SWCC and PSD. The conclusions also illustrate that the compaction effect changes the microstructure characteristics of loess, thereby affecting the soil’s water retention behavior. Full article
19 pages, 3141 KiB  
Article
A Coordinated Control Strategy of Multi-Type Flexible Resources and Under-Frequency Load Shedding for Active Power Balance
by Jian Zhang, Jiaying Wang, Yongji Cao, Baoliang Li and Changgang Li
Symmetry 2024, 16(4), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym16040479 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
With the increasing expansion of power systems, there is a growing trend towards active distribution networks for decentralized power generation and energy management. However, the instability of distributed renewable energy introduces complexity to power system operation. The active symmetry and balance of power [...] Read more.
With the increasing expansion of power systems, there is a growing trend towards active distribution networks for decentralized power generation and energy management. However, the instability of distributed renewable energy introduces complexity to power system operation. The active symmetry and balance of power systems are becoming increasingly important. This paper focuses on the characteristics of distributed resources and under-frequency load shedding, and a coordinated operation and control strategy based on the rapid adjustment of energy storage power is proposed. The characteristics of various controllable resources are analyzed to explore the rapid response capabilities of energy storage. The energy storage types are categorized based on the support time, and the final decision is achieved with power allocation and adjustment control of the energy storage system. Additionally, a comprehensive control strategy for under-frequency load shedding and hierarchical systems is provided for scenarios with insufficient active support. The feasibility of the proposed model and methods is verified via a multi-energy system case. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry/Asymmetry Studies in Modern Power Systems)
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17 pages, 2120 KiB  
Article
Microbiomes of Primary Soils and Mining Heaps of Polymetallic Ore Quarries
by Ekaterina Dorogaya, Evgeny Abakumov, Aleksei Zverev, Evgenia Novikova, Mikhail Garshin, Aleksandr Minnegaliev and Ruslan Suleymanov
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(8), 3328; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14083328 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
This research evaluates the development of microbiomes in primary soils, forming in various mining dumps in the arid terrain in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. A metagenomic analysis of the communities was performed by sequencing extended gene sequences. The evaluation of the agro-chemical [...] Read more.
This research evaluates the development of microbiomes in primary soils, forming in various mining dumps in the arid terrain in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. A metagenomic analysis of the communities was performed by sequencing extended gene sequences. The evaluation of the agro-chemical properties was in accordance with conventional pedology methods. Inverse voltammetry was used to measure the heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, zinc, copper, and nickel) and arsenic content. In all the samples studied, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria phylas dominated, and, in smaller numbers, Acidobacteria and Bacteroidetes were present. In the natural samples, the proportion of Actinobacteria was higher, and the proportions of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were lower than in the samples from anthropogenically disrupted soils. Verrucomicrobia bacteria and Thaumarchaeota archaea were not found in the forming soils of the Kulyurtau and Tubinsky quarries, although in all other samples, there was a significant content of representatives of these types. Soil formation was observed at the Kulyurtau and Tubinsky mines, with a self-restoration period of more than 30 years. The microbial communities of the forming soils were similar in species richness to the background soils, and the alpha diversity showed a high level of dispersion, although the beta diversity had a different clustering, but the absence of Verrucomicrobia and Thaumarchaeota phyla in the samples from both sites indicates the underdevelopment of new soils compared with the natural background. Agrochemical indicators showed a dependence on the type of growing vegetation and the degree of anthropogenic load, and the correlation with the microbial composition of soils was traced poorly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Diversity as a Driver of Plant Growth and Soil Health)
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15 pages, 1486 KiB  
Review
FOXP3: A Player of Immunogenetic Architecture in Lung Cancer
by Iwona Ziółkowska-Suchanek and Magdalena Żurawek
Genes 2024, 15(4), 493; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes15040493 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The transcription factor forkhead box protein 3 (FOXP3) is considered to be a prominent component of the immune system expressed in regulatory T cells (Tregs). Tregs are immunosuppressive cells that regulate immune homeostasis and self-tolerance. FOXP3 was originally thought to be a Tregs-specific [...] Read more.
The transcription factor forkhead box protein 3 (FOXP3) is considered to be a prominent component of the immune system expressed in regulatory T cells (Tregs). Tregs are immunosuppressive cells that regulate immune homeostasis and self-tolerance. FOXP3 was originally thought to be a Tregs-specific molecule, but recent studies have pinpointed that FOXP3 is expressed in a diversity of benign tumors and carcinomas. The vast majority of the data have shown that FOXP3 is correlated with an unfavorable prognosis, although there are some reports indicating the opposite function of this molecule. Here, we review recent progress in understanding the FOXP3 role in the immunogenetic architecture of lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related death. We discuss the prognostic significance of tumor FOXP3 expression, tumor-infiltrating FOXP3-lymphocytes, tumor FOXP3 in tumor microenvironments and the potential of FOXP3-targeted therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Immunogenetics of Disease)
13 pages, 1774 KiB  
Article
Eugenol Inhibits Neutrophils Myeloperoxidase In Vitro and Attenuates LPS-Induced Lung Inflammation in Mice
by Amina Chniguir, Mohamed Hedi Saguem, Pham My-Chan Dang, Jamel El-Benna and Rafik Bachoual
Pharmaceuticals 2024, 17(4), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph17040504 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Eugenol (Eug) is a polyphenol extracted from the essential oil of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. and Perry (Myrtaceae). The health benefits of eugenol in human diseases were proved in several studies. This work aims to evaluate the effect of eugenol on lung inflammatory [...] Read more.
Eugenol (Eug) is a polyphenol extracted from the essential oil of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. and Perry (Myrtaceae). The health benefits of eugenol in human diseases were proved in several studies. This work aims to evaluate the effect of eugenol on lung inflammatory disorders. For this, using human neutrophils, the antioxidant activity of eugenol was investigated in vitro. Furthermore, a model of LPS-induced lung injury in mice was used to study the anti-inflammatory effect of eugenol in vivo. Results showed that eugenol inhibits luminol-amplified chemiluminescence of resting neutrophils and after stimulation with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF) peptide or phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). This effect was dose dependent and was significant from a low concentration of 0.1 µg/mL. Furthermore, eugenol inhibited myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity without affecting its degranulation. Eugenol has no scavenging effect on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and superoxide anion (O2). Pretreatment of mice with eugenol prior to the administration of intra-tracheal LPS significantly reduced neutrophil accumulation in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and decreased total proteins concentration. Moreover, eugenol clearly inhibited the activity of matrix metalloproteinases MMP-2 (21%) and MMP-9 (28%), stimulated by LPS administration. These results suggest that the anti-inflammatory effect of eugenol against the LPS-induced lung inflammation could be exerted via inhibiting myeloperoxidase and metalloproteinases activity. Thus, eugenol could be a promising molecule for the treatment of lung inflammatory diseases. Full article
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14 pages, 15259 KiB  
Article
(Ba0.55Sr0.45)1−xLaxTi1.01O3-Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 Positive Temperature Coefficient Resistivity Ceramics with Low Curie Temperature (~−15 °C)
by Wanlu Xu, Wenwu Wang, Xiaoshan Zhang and Ping Yu
Materials 2024, 17(8), 1812; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17081812 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Positive temperature coefficient of electrical resistivity (PTCR) materials with low Curie temperature have been paid increasing attention lately. In this study, PTCR materials with a Curie temperature of approximately −15 °C were investigated by La3+ doping Ba0.55Sr0.45TiO3 [...] Read more.
Positive temperature coefficient of electrical resistivity (PTCR) materials with low Curie temperature have been paid increasing attention lately. In this study, PTCR materials with a Curie temperature of approximately −15 °C were investigated by La3+ doping Ba0.55Sr0.45TiO3 ceramics. It could be expected to meet the requirements of thermal management systems for low-temperature control. In addition, a trace amount of Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 (BNT) was employed to improve the resistivity and the PTCR performance. A significant PTCR effect was achieved with a high resistivity jump of nearly four orders of magnitude, a high temperature coefficient of ~28.76%/°C, and a narrow transition temperature span of 22 °C in the (Ba0.55Sr0.45)0.99875La0.00125Ti1.01O3-0.0025Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 ceramics. The PTCR enhancement mechanism of BNT is discussed. Full article
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22 pages, 2052 KiB  
Article
Detecting Leadership Opportunities in Group Discussions Using Off-the-Shelf VR Headsets
by Chenghao Gu, Jiadong Chen, Jiayi Zhang, Tianyuan Yang, Zhankun Liu and Shin’ichi Konomi
Sensors 2024, 24(8), 2534; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24082534 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The absence of some forms of non-verbal communication in virtual reality (VR) can make VR-based group discussions difficult even when a leader is assigned to each group to facilitate discussions. In this paper, we discuss if the sensor data from off-the-shelf VR devices [...] Read more.
The absence of some forms of non-verbal communication in virtual reality (VR) can make VR-based group discussions difficult even when a leader is assigned to each group to facilitate discussions. In this paper, we discuss if the sensor data from off-the-shelf VR devices can be used to detect opportunities for facilitating engaging discussions and support leaders in VR-based group discussions. To this end, we focus on the detection of suppressed speaking intention in VR-based group discussions by using personalized and general models. Our extensive analysis of experimental data reveals some factors that should be considered to enable effective feedback to leaders. In particular, our results show the benefits of combining the sensor data from leaders and low-engagement participants, and the usefulness of specific HMD sensor features. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wearable and Mobile Sensors and Data Processing—2nd Edition)
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12 pages, 754 KiB  
Article
Retrospective Study of the Prevalence and Associated Factors of Gallbladder Polyps among Residents of Two Korean Cities
by Oh-Sung Kwon, Young-Kyu Kim and Hyeon Ju Kim
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(8), 2290; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13082290 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background/Aims: Well-known risk factors for gallbladder polyps include metabolic syndrome, age, and dyslipidemia. Jeju Island is approximately 80 km from the Korean peninsula and is divided into two administrative regions (Jeju City and Seogwipo City), with Mount Halla intervening in the center. Jeju [...] Read more.
Background/Aims: Well-known risk factors for gallbladder polyps include metabolic syndrome, age, and dyslipidemia. Jeju Island is approximately 80 km from the Korean peninsula and is divided into two administrative regions (Jeju City and Seogwipo City), with Mount Halla intervening in the center. Jeju City has higher employment and birth rates than Seogwipo City. Age and alcohol consumption differ between the two regions, and these factors may affect the prevalence of gallbladder polyps (GBPs). Therefore, we investigated the prevalence of GBPs and compared various factors, including alcohol consumption habits and age, associated with GBPs among residents in the two regions. Methods: This study included 21,734 residents who visited the Health Screening and Promotion Center of Jeju National University Hospital between January 2009 and December 2019. We investigated the prevalence and associated factors of GBPs among residents of Jeju City and Seogwipo City. Results: The prevalence of GBPs in Jeju City and Seogwipo City was 9.8% and 8.9% (p = 0.043), respectively. The mean age and rate of high-risk alcohol intake were higher in Seogwipo City. The mean body mass index and levels of fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, and alkaline phosphatase were lower in Jeju City. Conclusions: This study demonstrated a significant difference in GBP prevalence between the two regions of Jeju Island. Age and alcohol consumption might contribute to this difference; however, further prospective cohort studies are warranted to confirm our findings. Full article
11 pages, 706 KiB  
Article
Differences in the Behavior of Anthocyanin Coloration in Wines Made from Vitis vinifera and Non-vinifera Grapes
by Tohru Okuda, Kyohei Maeda, Itsuki Serizawa, Fumie Watanabe-Saito and Masashi Hisamoto
Fermentation 2024, 10(4), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation10040216 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The skins of Vitis vinifera species contain 3-glucosyl anthocyanins (3G), but some non-vinifera species, such as ‘Yama Sauvignon’ (YS), contain a large amount of 3,5-diglucosyl anthocyanins (35DG), and the behavior of anthocyanin coloration with respect to pH is quite different. The anthocyanins [...] Read more.
The skins of Vitis vinifera species contain 3-glucosyl anthocyanins (3G), but some non-vinifera species, such as ‘Yama Sauvignon’ (YS), contain a large amount of 3,5-diglucosyl anthocyanins (35DG), and the behavior of anthocyanin coloration with respect to pH is quite different. The anthocyanins of YS showed a very weak color at a pH of 3 or higher but a very strong color below a pH of 3. Furthermore, when we investigated the effect of co-pigmentation in commercially available wines, we found that YS red wine contained a large amount of co-pigmented anthocyanins, and even wine aged for about 4 years contained a large amount of co-pigmented anthocyanins. Due to concerns regarding disease resistance, many hybrid varieties of V. vinifera and non-vinifera species have been bred, but it is important to take these special properties of 35DG into consideration when producing wine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Fermentation Process Design)
31 pages, 2859 KiB  
Review
The Rhine Catchment: A Review of Sediment-Related Knowledge, Monitoring, and a Future Research Perspective
by Michael Krapesch, Mario Klösch, Wilfried ten Brinke and Helmut Habersack
Water 2024, 16(8), 1121; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16081121 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The Rhine River is affected by major human interventions affecting its morphology and sediment regime, which have severely changed its flow and sediment transport. While channelization has increased the sediment transport capacity in the free-flowing sections, the sediment retention behind dams has caused [...] Read more.
The Rhine River is affected by major human interventions affecting its morphology and sediment regime, which have severely changed its flow and sediment transport. While channelization has increased the sediment transport capacity in the free-flowing sections, the sediment retention behind dams has caused a bedload deficit downstream and has additionally intensified riverbed erosion. The resulting consequences range from the exposure of less erodible sediment layers that pose obstacles for navigation, to the scouring of infrastructure, the lowering of groundwater levels, and multiple negative ecological consequences. To optimize the efficiency of countermeasures, a coherent overview of all sediment-related activities and the state of knowledge on the Rhine catchment is required. That is why the present study aims to give a catchment-wide overview in this regard, identify knowledge gaps and proposing a future research programme. The methodological approach includes a comprehensive literature review and online interviews with experts from six riparian countries working in the fields of sediment research and management. Based on our investigations, we have derived several research topics, each consisting of research questions. Three project ideas were defined that should primarily be realized: (i) the influence of climate change and land use change on the sediment regime; (ii) alteration and improvement of the sediment balance and continuity, sediment transport, and morphology; and (iii) national and bilateral projects on sediment transport processes and management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rivers - Connecting Mountains and Coasts)
16 pages, 6073 KiB  
Article
Fractal Characteristics and Microstructure of Coal with Impact of Starch-Polymerized Aluminum Sulfate Fracturing Fluids
by Feng Cai, Qian Zhang and Lingling Yang
Fractal Fract. 2024, 8(4), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/fractalfract8040228 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The degree of irregularity and complexity of the pore structure are comprehensively reflected in the fractal dimension. The porosity of coal was determined by its fractal dimension, where a larger dimension indicates a lower porosity. Fractal theory and the Frenkel–Halsey–Hill (FHH) model were [...] Read more.
The degree of irregularity and complexity of the pore structure are comprehensively reflected in the fractal dimension. The porosity of coal was determined by its fractal dimension, where a larger dimension indicates a lower porosity. Fractal theory and the Frenkel–Halsey–Hill (FHH) model were applied to explore the variation rules of concentration on functional groups and pore structure in this study. Combined with infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and low-temperature nitrogen adsorption, a starch-polymerized aluminum sulfate composite fracturing fluid was prepared, which plays an important role in methane adsorption and permeability of coal samples. The test results showed that, compared with the original coal, the pore volume and specific surface area of each group of coal samples were reduced, the average pore diameter was initially enlarged and then declined, and fractal dimension D1 dropped by 5.4% to 15.4%, while fractal dimension D2 gained 1.2% to 7.9%. Moreover, the nitrogen adsorption of each group of coal samples was obviously lower than the original coal, and the concentration of starch-polymerized aluminum sulfate solution existed at a critical optimal concentration for the modification of the coal samples, and the nitrogen adsorption reached a minimum value of 0.6814 cm3/g at a concentration of 10%. The novel composite solution prepared by the combination of starch and flocculant in this paper enhanced the permeability of the coal seam, which is of great significance in improving the efficiency of coalbed methane mining. Full article
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27 pages, 973 KiB  
Systematic Review
The Social Context of Pregnancy, Respectful Maternity Care, Biomarkers of Weathering, and Postpartum Mental Health Inequities: A Scoping Review
by Bridget Basile-Ibrahim, Joan Combellick, Thomas L. Mead, Alee Sorensen, Janene Batten and Robyn Schafer
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21(4), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph21040480 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background: Mental health disorders are the number one cause of maternal mortality and a significant maternal morbidity. This scoping review sought to understand the associations between social context and experiences during pregnancy and birth, biological indicators of stress and weathering, and perinatal mood [...] Read more.
Background: Mental health disorders are the number one cause of maternal mortality and a significant maternal morbidity. This scoping review sought to understand the associations between social context and experiences during pregnancy and birth, biological indicators of stress and weathering, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). Methods: A scoping review was performed using PRISMA-ScR guidance and JBI scoping review methodology. The search was conducted in OVID Medline and Embase. Results: This review identified 74 eligible English-language peer-reviewed original research articles. A majority of studies reported significant associations between social context, negative and stressful experiences in the prenatal period, and a higher incidence of diagnosis and symptoms of PMADs. Included studies reported significant associations between postpartum depression and prenatal stressors (n = 17), socioeconomic disadvantage (n = 14), negative birth experiences (n = 9), obstetric violence (n = 3), and mistreatment by maternity care providers (n = 3). Birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was positively associated with negative birth experiences (n = 11), obstetric violence (n = 1), mistreatment by the maternity care team (n = 1), socioeconomic disadvantage (n = 2), and prenatal stress (n = 1); and inverse association with supportiveness of the maternity care team (n = 5) and presence of a birth companion or doula (n = 4). Postpartum anxiety was significantly associated with negative birth experiences (n = 2) and prenatal stress (n = 3). Findings related to associations between biomarkers of stress and weathering, perinatal exposures, and PMADs (n = 14) had mixed significance. Conclusions: Postpartum mental health outcomes are linked with the prenatal social context and interactions with the maternity care team during pregnancy and birth. Respectful maternity care has the potential to reduce adverse postpartum mental health outcomes, especially for persons affected by systemic oppression. Full article
19 pages, 7598 KiB  
Article
Durability Evaluation of Polyurethane-Bound Porous Rubber Pavement for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure
by Tamanna Kabir and Susan Tighe
Constr. Mater. 2024, 4(2), 382-400; https://doi.org/10.3390/constrmater4020021 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
Permeable pavements are vital in sustainable urban water management, addressing critical challenges while enhancing environmental resilience. This study focuses on the innovative polyurethane-bound Porous Rubber Pavement (PRP), which possesses high permeability and elasticity due to its unique composition of stone and crumb rubber [...] Read more.
Permeable pavements are vital in sustainable urban water management, addressing critical challenges while enhancing environmental resilience. This study focuses on the innovative polyurethane-bound Porous Rubber Pavement (PRP), which possesses high permeability and elasticity due to its unique composition of stone and crumb rubber aggregates with polyurethane binders. PRP’s useful benefits, such as noise reduction, efficient snow/ice management, and others, enhance its appeal, emphasizing the necessity for a thorough investigation into its performance and characteristics, especially in North America. To address these gaps, this paper comprehensively analyzes PRP’s durability and performance, including its strength range, failure criteria, and susceptibility to moisture-induced damage. Various testing methods are utilized, such as evaluating the abrasion loss of the stone aggregate, rutting, stripping due to moisture susceptibility, resistance to degradation from impact and abrasion, and permeability tests. This study evaluates five distinct mix compositions with varied proportions of aggregates and binders. Further, it investigates the effects of different binder types on PRP performance, such as aromatic and aliphatic binders obtained from various sources. Upon the analysis of the comprehensive test results, it was found that the mix characterized by increased rubber aggregates and a high binder content demonstrated a superior performance across various tests for PRP applications. This mix exhibited an enhanced resistance to abrasion, raveling, rutting, and permanent deformation, showcasing its durability and functionality. Additionally, when combined with an aliphatic binder, it displayed an optimal performance even in challenging freeze–thaw conditions, making it a recommended choice for long-term pavement solutions. Full article
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16 pages, 1549 KiB  
Article
Hypromellose-, Gelatin- and Gellan Gum-Based Gel Films with Chlorhexidine for Potential Application in Oral Inflammatory Diseases
by Monika Wojtyłko, Anna Froelich and Barbara Jadach
Gels 2024, 10(4), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/gels10040265 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The oral cavity is constantly exposed to contact with an external environment. Pathogens can easily access and colonize it, causing a number of medical conditions that are usually accompanied by inflammation, which in turn require medical intervention and cause the deterioration of wellbeing. [...] Read more.
The oral cavity is constantly exposed to contact with an external environment. Pathogens can easily access and colonize it, causing a number of medical conditions that are usually accompanied by inflammation, which in turn require medical intervention and cause the deterioration of wellbeing. The aim of this study was to obtain polymer films that could be a carrier for chlorhexidine, an active substance used in the treatment of inflammation in the oral cavity, and at the same time act as a dressing for the application on the mucous membrane. Combinations of three biocompatible and biodegradable polymers were used to prepare the films. The obtained samples were characterized by assessing their water loss after drying, swelling ability, hygroscopicity and tensile strength. It was shown that the mixture of HPMC and gellan gum or gelatin could be used to prepare transparent, flexible polymer films with chlorhexidine. All tested films showed high hygroscopicity and swelling ability. However, it was observed that the composition containing gellan gum was more suitable for obtaining films with prolonged stay at the site of administration, which predisposes it to the role of a local dressing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Gel Films)
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20 pages, 10638 KiB  
Article
Grapevine Branch Recognition and Pruning Point Localization Technology Based on Image Processing
by Zhangnan Chen, Yaxiong Wang, Siyuan Tong, Chongchong Chen and Feng Kang
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(8), 3327; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14083327 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
Abstract
The identification of branches and bud points is the key to intelligent pruning of dormant grapevine branches and precise positioning of the pruning point on the branch is an important prerequisite for robotic arm pruning. This study takes Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes as [...] Read more.
The identification of branches and bud points is the key to intelligent pruning of dormant grapevine branches and precise positioning of the pruning point on the branch is an important prerequisite for robotic arm pruning. This study takes Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes as the experimental object and proposes a depth image-based pruning point localization algorithm based on pruning rules. In order to solve the problem of bud recognition in complex backgrounds, this study adopts a detection method that combines semantic segmentation and target detection. Firstly, the semantic segmentation algorithm PSP-net is used to separate the branches and the main stem from the background and the separated image undergoes two kinds of processing: one is to skeletonize it using the Zhang–Suen thinning algorithm and the other is to identify the buds and obtain the center coordinates of the buds using the target-detection method YOLOv5; finally, combining with the depth information of the depth image, we use the coordinates of the buds to determine the location of the pruning point located on the skeleton image. The results show that PSP-net has better results in segmentation performance with mIoU reaching 83.73%. YOLOv5 performs better in target detection with mAP reaching 81.06% and F1 reaching 0.80. The accuracy of this method in determining the location of pruning points reaches 82.35%. It can provide a method for fruit tree pruning robots to determine the location of pruning points. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Science and Technology)
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