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Life, Volume 14, Issue 2 (February 2024) – 118 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is characterized by elevated cardiac output at rest, an inability to further increase contractility under stress, and diastolic dysfunction, potentially resulting in cardiovascular complications during liver transplantation. Speckle tracking echocardiography and in particular global longitudinal strain is a promising imaging biomarker with improved diagnostic capabilities for non-ischemic cardiomyopathies. Nonetheless, due to the intricate pathophysiology of cirrhotic patients, data regarding the diagnostic and prognostic significance of global longitudinal strain remain inconsistent. This review aims to make a critical assessment of the existing evidence concerning the application of speckle tracking echocardiography in patients with liver cirrhosis. View this paper
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13 pages, 2016 KiB  
Hypothesis
The Role of Furin in the Pathogenesis of COVID-19-Associated Neurological Disorders
by Gunel Ayyubova, Sergiy G. Gychka, Sofia I. Nikolaienko, Fada A. Alghenaim, Tadahisa Teramoto, Nataliia V. Shults and Yuichiro J. Suzuki
Life 2024, 14(2), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020279 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 967
Abstract
Neurological disorders have been reported in a large number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, suggesting that this disease may have long-term adverse neurological consequences. COVID-19 occurs from infection by a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). [...] Read more.
Neurological disorders have been reported in a large number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, suggesting that this disease may have long-term adverse neurological consequences. COVID-19 occurs from infection by a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The membrane fusion protein of SARS-CoV-2, the spike protein, binds to its human host receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), to initiate membrane fusion between the virus and host cell. The spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 contains the furin protease recognition site and its cleavage enhances the infectivity of this virus. The binding of SARS-CoV-2 to the ACE2 receptor has been shown to downregulate ACE2, thereby increasing the levels of pathogenic angiotensin II (Ang II). The furin protease cleaves between the S1 subunit of the spike protein with the binding domain toward ACE2 and the S2 subunit with the transmembrane domain that anchors to the viral membrane, and this activity releases the S1 subunit into the blood circulation. The released S1 subunit of the spike protein also binds to and downregulates ACE2, in turn increasing the level of Ang II. Considering that a viral particle contains many spike protein molecules, furin-dependent cleavage would release many free S1 protein molecules, each of which can downregulate ACE2, while infection with a viral particle only affects one ACE2 molecule. Therefore, the furin-dependent release of S1 protein would dramatically amplify the ability to downregulate ACE2 and produce Ang II. We hypothesize that this amplification mechanism that the virus possesses, but not the infection per se, is the major driving force behind COVID-19-associated neurological disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Physiology and Pathology)
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18 pages, 3792 KiB  
Article
Study of the Bacterial, Fungal, and Archaeal Communities Structures near the Bulgarian Antarctic Research Base “St. Kliment Ohridski” on Livingston Island, Antarctica
by Vesselin V. Doytchinov, Slavil Peykov and Svetoslav G. Dimov
Life 2024, 14(2), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020278 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 903
Abstract
As belonging to one of the most isolated continents on our planet, the microbial composition of different environments in Antarctica could hold a plethora of undiscovered species with the potential for biotechnological applications. This manuscript delineates our discoveries after an expedition to the [...] Read more.
As belonging to one of the most isolated continents on our planet, the microbial composition of different environments in Antarctica could hold a plethora of undiscovered species with the potential for biotechnological applications. This manuscript delineates our discoveries after an expedition to the Bulgarian Antarctic Base “St. Kliment Ohridski” situated on Livingston Island, Antarctica. Amplicon-based metagenomics targeting the 16S rRNA genes and ITS2 region were employed to assess the metagenomes of the bacterial, fungal, and archaeal communities across diverse sites within and proximal to the research station. The predominant bacterial assemblages identified included Oxyphotobacteria, Bacteroidia, Gammaprotobacteria, and Alphaprotobacteria. A substantial proportion of cyanobacteria reads were attributed to a singular uncultured taxon within the family Leptolyngbyaceae. The bacterial profile of a lagoon near the base exhibited indications of penguin activity, characterized by a higher abundance of Clostridia, similar to lithotelm samples from Hannah Pt. Although most fungal reads in the samples could not be identified at the species level, noteworthy genera, namely Betamyces and Tetracladium, were identified. Archaeal abundance was negligible, with prevalent groups including Woesearchaeales, Nitrosarchaeum, Candidatus Nitrosopumilus, and Marine Group II. Full article
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21 pages, 1037 KiB  
Review
Three Biopolymers and Origin of Life Scenarios
by Ilana Agmon
Life 2024, 14(2), 277; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020277 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1303
Abstract
To track down the possible roots of life, various models for the initial living system composed of different combinations of the three extant biopolymers, RNA, DNA, and proteins, are presented. The suitability of each molecular set is assessed according to its ability to [...] Read more.
To track down the possible roots of life, various models for the initial living system composed of different combinations of the three extant biopolymers, RNA, DNA, and proteins, are presented. The suitability of each molecular set is assessed according to its ability to emerge autonomously, sustain, and evolve continuously towards life as we know it. The analysis incorporates current biological knowledge gained from high-resolution structural data and large sequence datasets, together with experimental results concerned with RNA replication and with the activity demonstrated by standalone constructs of the ribosomal Peptidyl Transferase Center region. The scrutiny excludes the DNA–protein combination and assigns negligible likelihood to the existence of an RNA–DNA world, as well as to an RNA world that contained a replicase made of RNA. It points to the precedence of an RNA–protein system, whose model of emergence suggests specific processes whereby a coded proto-ribosome ribozyme, specifically aminoacylated proto-tRNAs and a proto-polymerase enzyme, could have autonomously emerged, cross-catalyzing the formation of each other. This molecular set constitutes a feasible starting point for a continuous evolutionary path, proceeding via natural processes from the inanimate matter towards life as we know it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Origins of Life)
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10 pages, 1288 KiB  
Article
Cytotoxic Effects of Ardisiacrispin A from Labisia pumila on A549 Human Lung Cancer Cells
by Yeong-Geun Lee, Tae Hyun Kim, Jeong Eun Kwon, Hyunggun Kim and Se Chan Kang
Life 2024, 14(2), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020276 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 711
Abstract
Background: Lung cancer is the predominant cause of cancer-related fatalities. This prompted our exploration into the anti-lung cancer efficacy of Labisia pumila, a species meticulously selected from the preliminary screening of 600 plants. Methods: Through the strategic implementation of activity-guided fractionation, ardisiacrispin [...] Read more.
Background: Lung cancer is the predominant cause of cancer-related fatalities. This prompted our exploration into the anti-lung cancer efficacy of Labisia pumila, a species meticulously selected from the preliminary screening of 600 plants. Methods: Through the strategic implementation of activity-guided fractionation, ardisiacrispin A (1) was isolated utilizing sequential column chromatography. Structural characterization was achieved employing various spectroscopic methods, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), mass spectrometry (MS), and infrared spectroscopy (IR). Results: L. pumila 70% EtOH extract showed significant toxicity in A549 lung cancer cells, with an IC50 value of 57.04 ± 10.28 µg/mL, as well as decreased expression of oncogenes and induced apoptosis. Compound 1, ardisiacrispin A, induced a 50% cell death response in A549 cells at a concentration of 11.94 ± 1.14 µg/mL. Conclusions: The present study successfully investigated ardisiacrispin A extracted from L. pumila leaves, employing a comprehensive spectroscopic approach encompassing NMR, IR, and MS analyses. The anti-lung cancer efficacy of ardisiacrispin A and L. pumila extract was successfully demonstrated for the first time, to the best of our knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutic Effects of Natural Products on Human Diseases)
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11 pages, 414 KiB  
Article
Associations between Vitamin D Status and Polysomnographic Parameters in Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
by Ioanna Kechribari, Meropi D. Kontogianni, Michael Georgoulis, Kallirroi Lamprou, Eleni Perraki, Emmanouil Vagiakis and Nikos Yiannakouris
Life 2024, 14(2), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020275 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 791
Abstract
Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) may be associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) presence and is more pronounced with increasing OSA severity; however, the relationship between these two entities remains unclear. This was a cross-sectional study among 262 adults with in-hospital-attended polysomnography-diagnosed OSA and [...] Read more.
Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) may be associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) presence and is more pronounced with increasing OSA severity; however, the relationship between these two entities remains unclear. This was a cross-sectional study among 262 adults with in-hospital-attended polysomnography-diagnosed OSA and no additional major comorbidities, aiming to explore possible associations between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels and polysomnographic parameters. Data on demographics, medical history, anthropometric indices, and lifestyle habits were collected at enrolment. Serum 25(OH)D was evaluated using chemiluminescence, with VDD defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL. VDD was observed in 63% of the participants. Serum 25(OH)D correlated negatively with apnea–hypopnea index and other polysomnographic indices (all p < 0.05). In logistic regression analysis, adjusting for age, sex, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, dietary vitamin D intake, and season of blood sampling, serum 25(OH)D was associated with lower odds of severe OSA [odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 0.94 (0.90–0.98)]. In the same multivariate model, VDD was associated with ~threefold higher odds of severe OSA [2.75 (1.38–5.48)]. In stratified analyses, VDD predicted OSA severity in the group of participants ≥50 y [3.54 (1.29–9.68)] and among those with body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2 [3.38 (1.52–7.52)], but not in the younger and non-obese adults. This study provides further evidence of an inverse association between vitamin D levels and OSA severity and underscores the importance of considering vitamin D status as a potential modifiable factor in the comprehensive management of OSA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insights into Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
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12 pages, 460 KiB  
Article
Retrospective Analysis of Vitamin D Deficiency in an Adult Population of Arad County, Western Romania (2019–2022)
by Daniela Teodora Marti, Alexandru Nesiu, Cornel Balta, Tudor Rares Olariu, Alin Gabriel Mihu, Anca Hermenean and Daniela Adriana Oatis
Life 2024, 14(2), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020274 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 886
Abstract
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone synthesized primarily in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet light, is widely deficient across global populations. This study aimed to fill the data gap in Western Romania by measuring 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels in a cohort of 7141 from [...] Read more.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone synthesized primarily in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet light, is widely deficient across global populations. This study aimed to fill the data gap in Western Romania by measuring 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels in a cohort of 7141 from Arad County. It was observed that women, younger adults (18–29 years), and older adults (70–79 years) had notably lower vitamin D levels compared to the average population. Additionally, there was a rise in vitamin D levels over the four-year span of 2018–2022, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research provides fresh data on those most susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and lays the groundwork for educational campaigns on vitamin D supplementation benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vitamin D in Autoimmune and Infectious Diseases)
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14 pages, 2965 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Vitamin D Levels in Men with Suspected Infertility
by Fırat Aşır, Senem Çetin Duran, Muhammet Afşin, Enis Duran, Tuğcan Korak and Fırat Şahin
Life 2024, 14(2), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020273 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Male infertility may be caused by an impaired sperm functionality, with insufficient vitamin D levels affecting the quantity and development of motile sperm. Given the influence of vitamin D on vital aspects of male infertility, this study aimed to investigate the correlation between [...] Read more.
Male infertility may be caused by an impaired sperm functionality, with insufficient vitamin D levels affecting the quantity and development of motile sperm. Given the influence of vitamin D on vital aspects of male infertility, this study aimed to investigate the correlation between vitamin D levels and male infertility, along with exploring the possible mechanism of action. A total of 306 male participants were included. Semen samples were collected and analyzed for semen parameters with demographic features. Patients were classified into two groups based on vitamin D levels of <20 ng/mL (low) and ≥20 ng/mL (high). The Super-PRED, Swiss TargetPrediction, GeneCards, and DisGeNET databases were utilized to retrieve potential molecular targets associated with both vitamin D and male infertility, while the STRING database was employed for constructing protein–protein interaction (PPI) networks and conducting a functional enrichment analysis. A total of 146 patients (47.71%) showed low vitamin D levels and 160 patients (52.29%) had high vitamin D levels. Vitamin D was not strongly influenced by demographic parameters. Vitamin D demonstrated significant positive correlations with type A and B sperm motility. Conversely, it exhibited significant negative correlations with type C and D sperm motility. Hormones (thyroid-stimulating hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone, estradiol) were not significantly associated with vitamin D; however, testosterone was significantly positive correlated with vitamin D. Notably, no significant correlation was found between vitamin D levels and iron, ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels. The functional annotations of potential vitamin D targets associated with male infertility primarily indicated involvement in regulating infection, the immune response, forkhead box O (FOXO) and hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1) signals in male infertility. Adequate vitamin D levels are associated with an improved reproductive health, evidenced by positive correlations with hormone levels and sperm motility. Specifically, the FOXO and HIF-1 signaling pathways may be effective in the potential molecular mechanisms underlying the impact of vitamin D on male infertility and/or in the significant correlations identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Reproductive and Developmental Biology)
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23 pages, 837 KiB  
Review
NAFLD Fibrosis Progression and Type 2 Diabetes: The Hepatic–Metabolic Interplay
by Simona Cernea
Life 2024, 14(2), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020272 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 885
Abstract
The bidirectional relationship between type 2 diabetes and (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) NAFLD is indicated by the higher prevalence and worse disease course of one condition in the presence of the other, but also by apparent beneficial effects observed in one, when the [...] Read more.
The bidirectional relationship between type 2 diabetes and (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) NAFLD is indicated by the higher prevalence and worse disease course of one condition in the presence of the other, but also by apparent beneficial effects observed in one, when the other is improved. This is partly explained by their belonging to a multisystemic disease that includes components of the metabolic syndrome and shared pathogenetic mechanisms. Throughout the progression of NAFLD to more advanced stages, complex systemic and local metabolic derangements are involved. During fibrogenesis, a significant metabolic reprogramming occurs in the hepatic stellate cells, hepatocytes, and immune cells, engaging carbohydrate and lipid pathways to support the high-energy-requiring processes. The natural history of NAFLD evolves in a variable and dynamic manner, probably due to the interaction of a variable number of modifiable (diet, physical exercise, microbiota composition, etc.) and non-modifiable (genetics, age, ethnicity, etc.) risk factors that may intervene concomitantly, or subsequently/intermittently in time. This may influence the risk (and rate) of fibrosis progression/regression. The recognition and control of the factors that determine a rapid progression of fibrosis (or its regression) are critical, as the fibrosis stages are associated with the risk of liver-related and all-cause mortality. Full article
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10 pages, 1997 KiB  
Article
Improvement in the Stability and Enzymatic Activity of Pleurotus sapidus Lipoxygenase Dissolved in Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (NADESs)
by Maria Garbe, Leander Tom Lehmann, Ralf Günter Berger and Franziska Ersoy
Life 2024, 14(2), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020271 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 617
Abstract
Natural deep eutectic solvents (NADESs) can serve as solvents for enzymes, are biodegradable, and have low toxicities. Eight NADESs with different hydrogen bond acceptors and donors were tested to improve the stability and activity of a lipoxygenase from Basidiomycete Pleurotus sapidus (LOXPSA [...] Read more.
Natural deep eutectic solvents (NADESs) can serve as solvents for enzymes, are biodegradable, and have low toxicities. Eight NADESs with different hydrogen bond acceptors and donors were tested to improve the stability and activity of a lipoxygenase from Basidiomycete Pleurotus sapidus (LOXPSA). Betaine:sorbitol:water (1:1:3, BSorbW) and betaine:ethylene glycol (1:3, BEtGly) had the best impact on the peroxidation of linoleic acid and the side reaction of piperine to the vanilla-like scented compound piperonal. The yield of piperonal in NADESs increased by 43% in BSorbW and 40% in BEtGly compared to the control. The addition of BSorbW also enhanced the enzyme’s stability at various temperatures and increased its activity during incubation at 60 °C. The demonstrated improvement in lipoxygenase activity and stability indicates versatile applications in industry, expanding the potential uses of the enzyme. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Research in Biocatalysis)
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11 pages, 621 KiB  
Article
Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Nosocomial Infections in Left Ventricular Assist Device Recipients
by Simone Mornese Pinna, Silvia Corcione, Elena Cavallone, Nour Shbaklo, Davide Vita, Ilaria De Benedetto, Giorgia Montrucchio, Daniela Pasero, Anna Chiara Trompeo, Andrea Costamagna, Luca Brazzi, Mauro Rinaldi, Massimo Boffini and Francesco Giuseppe De Rosa
Life 2024, 14(2), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020270 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 754
Abstract
Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have been increasingly used as a valid option to improve the prognosis and reduce the symptoms of end-stage heart failure. However, long-term complications, mostly infections and coagulation disorders, are frequent. We described the epidemiology and risk factors for [...] Read more.
Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have been increasingly used as a valid option to improve the prognosis and reduce the symptoms of end-stage heart failure. However, long-term complications, mostly infections and coagulation disorders, are frequent. We described the epidemiology and risk factors for nosocomial infections (NIs) in a cohort of adult patients who underwent continuous-flow LVAD implant between January 2010 and December 2017 in Turin, Italy. Secondary outcomes were the prevalence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria and mortality. Results: Overall, 64 LVADs were implanted. A total of 32 (50%) patients experienced at least one episode of NI, with a total of 46 infectious events. VAD-related infections occurred in 22 patients (68.8%). Non VAD-related NIs occurred in 12 patients (37.5%), mainly low respiratory tract infections. Length of intensive care unit admission was a risk factor for NI (OR 1.224, 95%CI; 1.049, 1.429). Gram-negative bacilli were responsible for 58.8% of VAD-related infections and 79.5% of non-VAD related infections. In sixteen patients (50%), at least one episode of infection was related to an MDR strain. INTERMACS class and length of MV were independent risk factors for NIs by MDR strains (respectively, OR 2.12, 95%CI: 1.08, 6.80; p = 0.02 and OR 1.46, 95%CI: 1.07, 5.52, p = 0.047). In-hospital mortality was 6.3%. No differences in mortality were observed between infected and non-infected patients (p = 0.61) even when caused by MDR strains (p = 0.143). Conclusion: the rate of nosocomial infections in LVAD patients is associated with the length of ICU admission, and the etiology of nosocomial infection after LVAD implant is mainly due to GNB, including a high rate of MDR strains, especially KPC-KP and MDR PA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Cell Biology and Drug Discovery)
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21 pages, 1461 KiB  
Systematic Review
Epigenetics in Knee Osteoarthritis: A 2020–2023 Update Systematic Review
by Davide Caldo, Eugenia Massarini, Massimiliano Rucci, Silvia Deaglio and Riccardo Ferracini
Life 2024, 14(2), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020269 - 17 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 899
Abstract
Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the world. The scientific literature highlights the critical importance of epigenetic regulatory effects, intertwined with biomechanical and biochemical peculiar conditions within each musculoskeletal district. While the contribution of genetic and epigenetic factors to knee OA [...] Read more.
Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the world. The scientific literature highlights the critical importance of epigenetic regulatory effects, intertwined with biomechanical and biochemical peculiar conditions within each musculoskeletal district. While the contribution of genetic and epigenetic factors to knee OA is well-recognized, their precise role in disease management remains an area of active research. Such a field is particularly heterogeneous, calling for regular analysis and summarizing of the data that constantly emerge in the scientific literature, often sparse and scant of integration. The aim of this study was to systematically identify and synthesize all new evidence that emerged in human and animal model studies published between 2020 and 2023. This was necessary because, to the best of our knowledge, articles published before 2019 (and partly 2020) had already been included in systematic reviews that allowed to identify the ones concerning the knee joint. The review was carried out in accordance with Preferential Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Only peer-reviewed articles were considered for inclusion. A total of 40 studies were identified, showing promising results in terms either of biomarker identification, new insight in mechanism of action or potential therapeutic targets for knee OA. DNA methylation, histone modification and ncRNA were all mechanisms involved in epigenetic regulation of the knee. Most recent evidence suggests that epigenetics is a most promising field with the long-term goal of improving understanding and management of knee OA, but a variety of research approaches need greater consolidation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Views on Knee Osteoarthritis: 2nd Edition)
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40 pages, 17749 KiB  
Article
The Diversity of Parasitoids and Their Role in the Control of the Siberian Moth, Dendrolimus sibiricus (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae), a Major Coniferous Pest in Northern Asia
by Natalia I. Kirichenko, Alexander A. Ageev, Sergey A. Astapenko, Anna N. Golovina, Dmitry R. Kasparyan, Oksana V. Kosheleva, Alexander V. Timokhov, Ekaterina V. Tselikh, Evgeny V. Zakharov, Dmitrii L. Musolin and Sergey A. Belokobylskij
Life 2024, 14(2), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020268 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 929
Abstract
The Siberian moth, Dendrolimus sibiricus Tschetv., 1908 (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) is a conifer pest that causes unprecedented forest mortality in Northern Asia, leading to enormous ecological and economic losses. This is the first study summarizing data on the parasitoid diversity and parasitism of this [...] Read more.
The Siberian moth, Dendrolimus sibiricus Tschetv., 1908 (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) is a conifer pest that causes unprecedented forest mortality in Northern Asia, leading to enormous ecological and economic losses. This is the first study summarizing data on the parasitoid diversity and parasitism of this pest over the last 118 years (1905–2022). Based on 860 specimens of freshly reared and archival parasitoids, 16 species from two orders (Hymenoptera and Diptera) were identified morphologically and/or with the use of DNA barcoding. For all of them, data on distribution and hosts and images of parasitoid adults are provided. Among them, the braconid species, Meteorus versicolor (Wesmael, 1835), was documented as a parasitoid of D. sibiricus for the first time. The eastern Palaearctic form, Aleiodes esenbeckii (Hartig, 1838) dendrolimi (Matsumura, 1926), status nov., was resurrected from synonymy as a valid subspecies, and a key for its differentiation from the western Palaearctic subspecies Aleiodes esenbeckii ssp. esenbecki is provided. DNA barcodes of 11 parasitoid species from Siberia, i.e., nine hymenopterans and two dipterans, represented novel records and can be used for accurate molecular genetic identification of species. An exhaustive checklist of parasitoids accounting for 93 species associated with D. sibirisus in northern Asia was compiled. Finally, the literature and original data on parasitism in D. sibiricus populations for the last 83 years (1940–2022) were analysed taking into account the pest population dynamics (i.e., growth, outbreak, decline, and depression phases). A gradual time-lagged increase in egg and pupal parasitism in D. sibiricus populations was detected, with a peak in the pest decline phase. According to long-term observations, the following species are able to cause significant mortality of D. sibiricus in Northern Asia: the hymenopteran egg parasitoids Telenomus tetratomus and Ooencyrtus pinicolus; the larval parasitoids Aleiodes esenbeckii sp. dendrolimi, Cotesia spp., and Glyptapanteles liparidis; and the dipteran pupal parasitoids Masicera sphingivora, Tachina sp., and Blepharipa sp. Their potential should be further explored in order to develop biocontrol programs for this important forest pest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Animal Science: 2nd Edition)
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24 pages, 346 KiB  
Review
The Effect of Diet on Vascular Aging: A Narrative Review of the Available Literature
by Xenophon Theodoridis, Michail Chourdakis, Androniki Papaemmanouil, Stavroula Chaloulakou, Athina Vasiliki Georgakou, Georgios Chatzis and Areti Triantafyllou
Life 2024, 14(2), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020267 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1527
Abstract
Early vascular aging is related to various cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Healthful lifestyle practices and interventions, including dietary regimens and consistent aerobic exercise, exert favorable modulation on these processes, thereby diminishing the risk of cardiovascular disease with advancing [...] Read more.
Early vascular aging is related to various cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Healthful lifestyle practices and interventions, including dietary regimens and consistent aerobic exercise, exert favorable modulation on these processes, thereby diminishing the risk of cardiovascular disease with advancing age. The principal objective of this review was to conduct a comprehensive evaluation and synthesis of the available literature regarding the effectiveness of different diets on vascular health, such as arterial stiffness and endothelial function. To conduct this review, a thorough search of electronic databases including PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science Core Collection was carried out. Based on the existing evidence, the Mediterranean, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and low-calorie diets may have a beneficial effect on vascular health. However, more randomized controlled trials with sufficient sample sizes, longer follow-ups, rigorous methodologies, and, possibly, head-to-head comparisons between the different diets are needed to shed light on this topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diet and Vascular Disease)
9 pages, 485 KiB  
Article
Distribution and Utilization of Vitamin E in Different Organs of Wild Bats from Different Food Groups
by Diego Antonio Mena Canata, Mara Silveira Benfato, Francielly Dias Pereira, María João Ramos Pereira and Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto
Life 2024, 14(2), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020266 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 639
Abstract
In this work, we examined the levels of vitamin E in the heart, liver, and kidneys of four species of adult male bats with distinct feeding habits. Our results indicate consistent vitamin E levels in the heart across all four bat species, suggesting [...] Read more.
In this work, we examined the levels of vitamin E in the heart, liver, and kidneys of four species of adult male bats with distinct feeding habits. Our results indicate consistent vitamin E levels in the heart across all four bat species, suggesting the presence of regulatory mechanisms. Additionally, the liver displayed notably higher vitamin E levels in nectarivorous and frugivorous bats, while hematophagous bats exhibited lower levels, indicating a link between dietary intake and liver vitamin E levels. Furthermore, correlation analysis provided additional insights into the relationships between vitamin E and key antioxidant parameters in the livers of bats. On the other hand, no correlation was observed between vitamin E and key antioxidant parameters in the heart. Intriguingly, vitamin E was not detected in the kidneys, likely due to physiological factors and the prioritization of vitamin E mobilization in the heart, where it serves critical physiological functions. This unexpected absence of vitamin E in bat kidneys highlights the unique metabolic demands and prioritization of vitamin mobilization in wild animals like bats, compared to conventional animal models. These findings provide insight into the intricate distribution and utilization of vitamin E in bats, emphasizing the influence of dietary intake and metabolic adaptations on vitamin E levels in different organs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Animal Science: 2nd Edition)
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11 pages, 803 KiB  
Article
Using Remote Technology to Engage Patients with Interstitial Lung Diseases in a Home Exercise Program: A Pilot Study
by Antonio Sarmento, Kaitlin King and Diana C. Sanchez-Ramirez
Life 2024, 14(2), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020265 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 912
Abstract
Introduction: The access and compliance of patients with interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) to exercise programs (EPs) remain challenges. Objectives: We assessed the dropout rate, intervention completion, compliance with data acquisition and submission, safety, and satisfaction of a home EP delivered via video conference [...] Read more.
Introduction: The access and compliance of patients with interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) to exercise programs (EPs) remain challenges. Objectives: We assessed the dropout rate, intervention completion, compliance with data acquisition and submission, safety, and satisfaction of a home EP delivered via video conference (EPVC group) or self-directed (EPSD group) to patients with ILD. Pre- and post-intervention changes in patient outcomes (dyspnea, fatigue, exercise capacity, lung function, and quality of life) were secondarily explored. Material and Methods: Groups performed an eight-week virtual EP three times/week. Video conferences were led by a registered respiratory therapist, whereas self-directed exercises were completed following a pre-recorded video. Participants submitted spirometry, heart rate, and SpO2 results weekly to the research team. Results: Fourteen patients with ILD were equally assigned to the EPVC and EPSD groups, but three from the EPSD group dropped out after the initial assessment (dropout rate of 42.8% in the EPSD group). Eleven patients (mean age of 67 ± 12 years) completed 96.5% of sessions. Compliance with data acquisition and submission was optimal (≥97.6% in both groups), and no adverse events were reported. Changes in overall fatigue severity were significantly different between groups (p = 0.014, Cohen’s r = 0.64). Conclusions: The results suggest that a structured virtual EP delivered via video conference or pre-recorded video can be feasible, safe, and acceptable for patients with ILD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Advances in Interstitial Lung Diseases)
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9 pages, 225 KiB  
Article
Head CT Scans in the Emergency Department during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Use or Overuse?
by Marcello Covino, Andrea Piccioni, Giuseppe Merra, Carolina Giordano, Rosellina Russo, Amato Infante, Luca Ausili Cefaro, Luigi Natale, Francesco Franceschi and Simona Gaudino
Life 2024, 14(2), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020264 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 666
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to mainly involve the respiratory system, but it was realized that it could affect any organ, including the CNS. The pandemic has followed a wave-like trend, with its peaks being due to the COVID-19 different variants and the [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to mainly involve the respiratory system, but it was realized that it could affect any organ, including the CNS. The pandemic has followed a wave-like trend, with its peaks being due to the COVID-19 different variants and the introduction of the vaccine, which led to an apparent reduction in hospitalizations but also brought about perplexities related to its adverse effects. The aim of this study was to analyze the changes in the use of head CT/contrast CT and their impacts on the onset of cerebrovascular disease in our emergency department during the COVID-19 period and the vaccine rollout. Methods: Patients ≥ 18 years old admitted to our emergency department from January 2018 to September 2021 were enrolled. The patients were divided into three groups. The COVID-19 period included patients who visited our emergency department from 1 March 2020 to 31 January 2021; the vaccine period was considered to range from 1 February 2021 to 30 September 2021. The patients who visited the emergency department from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2020 were considered the controls. Results: We found an increase in head CT/contrast CT requests during the COVID-19 period and increase in head contrast CT during the vaccine period, without an increase in the incidence of cerebrovascular disease. Conclusions: The uncertainty regarding the possible thrombotic events associated with COVID-19 and its vaccine increased the relative use of head CT/contrast CT by about 20% compared to the control period Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Radiobiology and Nuclear Medicine)
27 pages, 1435 KiB  
Review
Molecular Assessment of Methylglyoxal-Induced Toxicity and Therapeutic Approaches in Various Diseases: Exploring the Interplay with the Glyoxalase System
by Muhanad Alhujaily
Life 2024, 14(2), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020263 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 928
Abstract
This comprehensive exploration delves into the intricate interplay of methylglyoxal (MG) and glyoxalase 1 (GLO I) in various physiological and pathological contexts. The linchpin of the narrative revolves around the role of these small molecules in age-related issues, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and [...] Read more.
This comprehensive exploration delves into the intricate interplay of methylglyoxal (MG) and glyoxalase 1 (GLO I) in various physiological and pathological contexts. The linchpin of the narrative revolves around the role of these small molecules in age-related issues, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. Methylglyoxal, a reactive dicarbonyl metabolite, takes center stage, becoming a principal player in the development of AGEs and contributing to cell and tissue dysfunction. The dual facets of GLO I—activation and inhibition—unfold as potential therapeutic avenues. Activators, spanning synthetic drugs like candesartan to natural compounds like polyphenols and isothiocyanates, aim to restore GLO I function. These molecular enhancers showcase promising outcomes in conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, kidney disease, and beyond. On the contrary, GLO I inhibitors emerge as crucial players in cancer treatment, offering new possibilities in diseases associated with inflammation and multidrug resistance. The symphony of small molecules, from GLO I activators to inhibitors, presents a nuanced understanding of MG regulation. From natural compounds to synthetic drugs, each element contributes to a molecular orchestra, promising novel interventions and personalized approaches in the pursuit of health and wellbeing. The abstract concludes with an emphasis on the necessity of rigorous clinical trials to validate these findings and acknowledges the importance of individual variability in the complex landscape of health. Full article
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14 pages, 1915 KiB  
Article
A Federated Database for Obesity Research: An IMI-SOPHIA Study
by Carl Delfin, Iulian Dragan, Dmitry Kuznetsov, Juan Fernandez Tajes, Femke Smit, Daniel E. Coral, Ali Farzaneh, André Haugg, Andreas Hungele, Anne Niknejad, Christopher Hall, Daan Jacobs, Diana Marek, Diane P. Fraser, Dorothee Thuillier, Fariba Ahmadizar, Florence Mehl, Francois Pattou, Frederic Burdet, Gareth Hawkes, Ilja C. W. Arts, Jordi Blanch, Johan Van Soest, José-Manuel Fernández-Real, Juergen Boehl, Katharina Fink, Marleen M. J. van Greevenbroek, Maryam Kavousi, Michiel Minten, Nicole Prinz, Niels Ipsen, Paul W. Franks, Rafael Ramos, Reinhard W. Holl, Scott Horban, Talita Duarte-Salles, Van Du T. Tran, Violeta Raverdy, Yenny Leal, Adam Lenart, Ewan Pearson, Thomas Sparsø, Giuseppe N. Giordano, Vassilios Ioannidis, Keng Soh, Timothy M. Frayling, Carel W. Le Roux and Mark Ibbersonadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Life 2024, 14(2), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020262 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1551
Abstract
Obesity is considered by many as a lifestyle choice rather than a chronic progressive disease. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) SOPHIA (Stratification of Obesity Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy) project is part of a momentum shift aiming to provide better tools for [...] Read more.
Obesity is considered by many as a lifestyle choice rather than a chronic progressive disease. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) SOPHIA (Stratification of Obesity Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy) project is part of a momentum shift aiming to provide better tools for the stratification of people with obesity according to disease risk and treatment response. One of the challenges to achieving these goals is that many clinical cohorts are siloed, limiting the potential of combined data for biomarker discovery. In SOPHIA, we have addressed this challenge by setting up a federated database building on open-source DataSHIELD technology. The database currently federates 16 cohorts that are accessible via a central gateway. The database is multi-modal, including research studies, clinical trials, and routine health data, and is accessed using the R statistical programming environment where statistical and machine learning analyses can be performed at a distance without any disclosure of patient-level data. We demonstrate the use of the database by providing a proof-of-concept analysis, performing a federated linear model of BMI and systolic blood pressure, pooling all data from 16 studies virtually without any analyst seeing individual patient-level data. This analysis provided similar point estimates compared to a meta-analysis of the 16 individual studies. Our approach provides a benchmark for reproducible, safe federated analyses across multiple study types provided by multiple stakeholders. Full article
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11 pages, 2816 KiB  
Article
Myocardial Perfusion Imaging and C-Reactive Protein in Myocardial Ischemia: A Retrospective Single-Center Study
by Aidonis Rammos, Aris Bechlioulis, Areti Kekiopoulou, Pavlos Kekiopoulos, Christos S. Katsouras and Chrissa Sioka
Life 2024, 14(2), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020261 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Background: Inflammation is an important mechanism in atherosclerosis and plaque formation. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a common inflammatory biomarker associated with the risk of coronary heart disease. We investigated the relationship of CRP with findings from myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI). Methods: In this [...] Read more.
Background: Inflammation is an important mechanism in atherosclerosis and plaque formation. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a common inflammatory biomarker associated with the risk of coronary heart disease. We investigated the relationship of CRP with findings from myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI). Methods: In this retrospective study, 102 consecutive patients (mean age 71 years, 68% males) who underwent MPI (for diagnostic reasons or quantification of myocardial ischemia) and CRP determination (upper limit: 6 mg/L) within 1 month from MPI were included. The patients had no infection or recent acute coronary syndrome. Results: The median CRP level was 4 mg/L (2, 10) among the study population. Patients with raised CRP had higher summed stress score (SSS) (p = 0.006) and summed rest score (SRS) (p = 0.001) and higher risk for SSS > 3 (OR 9.25, 95% CI 2.03–42.13, p = 0.001) compared to those with low CRP. The association of SSS and SRS with CRP levels was more evident in patients over 70 years (p = 0.027 and p = 0.005, respectively). No significant difference in summed difference score was shown. The two groups had no difference in other risk factors (p > 0.05 for all comparisons). Conclusion: a high level of CRP was associated with the presence and extent of stress-induced myocardial ischemia in MPI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Cardiac Imaging)
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24 pages, 5423 KiB  
Article
Possible Correlations between Mean Platelet Volume and Biological, Electrocardiographic, and Echocardiographic Parameters in Patients with Heart Failure
by Andreea Catană, Cătălina Liliana Andrei, Suzana Guberna, Octavian Ceban and Crina Julieta Sinescu
Life 2024, 14(2), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020260 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 586
Abstract
(1) Background: Despite advancements in medical research and discoveries, heart failure (HF) still represents a significant and prevalent public health challenge. It is characterized by persistently high mortality and morbidity rates, along with increased rates of readmissions, particularly among the elderly population. (2) [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Despite advancements in medical research and discoveries, heart failure (HF) still represents a significant and prevalent public health challenge. It is characterized by persistently high mortality and morbidity rates, along with increased rates of readmissions, particularly among the elderly population. (2) Methods: This study was conducted retrospectively on 260 patients with stable or decompensated chronic HF. The parameter of interest in the study population was the mean platelet volume (MPV), and the main objective of the research was to identify a possible relationship between MPV and several variables—biological (NT-proBNP, presepsin, red cell distribution width (RDW)), electrocardiographic (atrial fibrillation (AFib) rhythm, sinus rhythm (SR)), and echocardiographic (left ventricle ejection fraction (LVEF), left atrial (LA) diameter, left ventricle (LV) diameter, pulmonary hypertension (PH)). (3) Results: By applying logistic and linear regression models, we assessed whether there is a correlation between MPV and biological, electrocardiographic, and echocardiographic variables in patients with HF. The results revealed linear relationships between MPV and NT pro-BNP values and between MPV and RDW values, and an increased probability for the patients to have an AFib rhythm, reduced LVEF, dilated LA, dilated LV, and PH as their MPV value increases. The results were deemed statistically relevant based on a p-value below 0.05. (4) Conclusions: Through regression model analyses, our research revealed that certain negative variables in HF patients such as increased levels of NT-proBNP, increased levels of RDW, AFib rhythm, reduced LVEF, dilated LA, dilated LV, and PH, could be predicted based on MPV values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cardiovascular Diseases: From Basic Research to Clinical Application)
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22 pages, 3499 KiB  
Article
Elderly Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension: Clinical Characteristics, Survival, and Risk Stratification in a Single-Center Prospective Registry
by Natalia Goncharova, Kirill Lapshin, Aelita Berezina, Maria Simakova, Alexandr Marichev, Irina Zlobina, Narek Marukyan, Kirill Malikov, Alexandra Aseeva, Vadim Zaitsev and Olga Moiseeva
Life 2024, 14(2), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020259 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 614
Abstract
Introduction: The predictive value of the risk stratification scales in elderly patients with IPAH might differ from that in younger patients. It is unknown whether young and older IPAH patients have the same survival dependence on PAH-specific therapy numbers. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Introduction: The predictive value of the risk stratification scales in elderly patients with IPAH might differ from that in younger patients. It is unknown whether young and older IPAH patients have the same survival dependence on PAH-specific therapy numbers. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic relevance of risk stratification scales and PAH medication numbers in elderly IPAH patients in comparison with young IPAH patients. Materials and methods: A total of 119 patients from a prospective single-center PAH registry were divided into group I < 60 years old (n = 89) and group II ≥ 60 years old (n = 30). ESC/ERS, REVEAL, and REVEAL 2.0 risk stratification scores were assessed at baseline, as well as H2FpEF score and survival at follow-up. Results: During a mean follow-up period of 2.9 years (1.63; 6.0), 42 (35.3%) patients died; at 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, survival was 95%, 88.6%, 78.5%, 61.7%, 48.5%, and 33.7%, respectively. No survival differences were observed between the two groups, despite the use of monotherapy in the elderly patients. The best predictive REVEAL value in elderly patients (IPAH patients ≥ 60 years) was AUC 0.73 (0.56–0.91), p = 0.03; and in patients with LHD comorbidities in the entire cohort, it was AUC 0.73 (0.59–0.87), p < 0.009. Factors independently associated with death in the entire cohort were CKD (p = 0.01, HR 0.2), the right-to-left ventricle dimension ratio (p = 0.0047, HR 5.97), and NT-proBNP > 1400 pg/mL (p = 0.008, HR 3.18). Conclusion: Risk stratification in the elderly IPAH patients requires a fundamentally different approach than that of younger patients, taking into account the initial limitations in physical performance and comorbidities that interfere with current assessment scores. The REVEAL score reliably stratifies patients at any age and LHD comorbidities. The initial monotherapy seems to be reasonable in patients over 60 years. Selection tools for initial combination PAH therapy in older IPAH patients with comorbidities need to be validated in prospective observational studies. Full article
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15 pages, 748 KiB  
Article
Silurian Climatic Zonation of Cryptospore, Trilete Spore and Plant Megafossils, with Emphasis on the Přídolí Epoch
by Jiří Bek, Philippe Steemans, Jiří Frýda and Viktor Žárský
Life 2024, 14(2), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020258 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 553
Abstract
This paper describes dispersed cryptospores and trilete spores from tropical, temperate and cool climate belts within Přídolí and compares them with the land plant megafossil record. The palynology of earlier intervals in the Silurian are also reviewed. A common feature of the cryptospore [...] Read more.
This paper describes dispersed cryptospores and trilete spores from tropical, temperate and cool climate belts within Přídolí and compares them with the land plant megafossil record. The palynology of earlier intervals in the Silurian are also reviewed. A common feature of the cryptospore and trilete spore records is that their number is surprisingly lowest in the tropical climatic belt and much higher in the temperate and especially in the cool latitude, and the highest number of cryptospore taxa occurring only in one belt is found in the cool belt while the highest number of trilete spore taxa that occurred only in one belt is recorded in the temperate belt. In general, based on the dispersed spore record, we can estimate that the plant assemblages of the tropical belt were dominated by rhyniophytes; trimerophytes probably prevailed over rhyniophytes in the temperate belt, and rhyniophytes again dominated within the cool belt. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)
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13 pages, 416 KiB  
Article
Multifocality in Testicular Cancer: Clinicopathological Correlations and Prognostic Implications
by Uros Bumbasirevic, Milos Petrovic, Milica Zekovic, Vesna Coric, Bogomir Milojevic, Nikola Lisicic, David Obucina, Nenad Vasilic, Petar Bulat, Marko Zivkovic, Milica Cekerevac, Nebojsa Bojanic and Aleksandar Janicic
Life 2024, 14(2), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020257 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 599
Abstract
There are limited data regarding the significance of multifocality in testicular cancer patients. This study evaluated the relationship between multifocality and clinicopathological features determined at the time of radical orchiectomy. The study involved 280 consecutive patients who underwent radical orchiectomy between 2018 and [...] Read more.
There are limited data regarding the significance of multifocality in testicular cancer patients. This study evaluated the relationship between multifocality and clinicopathological features determined at the time of radical orchiectomy. The study involved 280 consecutive patients who underwent radical orchiectomy between 2018 and 2023. Multifocality was defined as a distinct tumor focus characterized by a group of malignant cells > 1 mm, clearly differentiated from the primary tumor mass. Uni- and multivariate logistic regression analyses were employed to investigate the association between multifocality and histopathological parameters along with potential risk factors for clinical stages II + III. Multifocality was identified in 44 (15.7%) patients. Significantly smaller primary tumors were observed in subjects with multifocality (20.0 mm vs. 30.0 mm, p = 0.0001), while those exhibiting monofocality presented a markedly elevated rate of tumors exceeding 4 cm (40.3% vs. 18.2%, p = 0.005). Furthermore, multifocality was associated with a significantly higher rate of primary tumors < 2 cm (52.3% vs. 29.2%, p = 0.003). Univariate logistic regression analysis revealed a substantial decrease in the likelihood of multifocality occurrence in seminoma patients with tumors > 4 cm (OR = 0.38, p = 0.017). Meanwhile, in multivariate logistic regression, multifocality did not emerge as a significant risk factor for clinical stages II + III in either seminoma (p = 0.381) or non-seminoma (p = 0.672) cases. Our study suggests that multifocality holds no substantial prognostic relevance for clinically advanced disease in testicular cancer patients. The findings indicate that multifocality is associated with smaller primary tumors, particularly those measuring less than 2 cm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Research)
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16 pages, 2845 KiB  
Article
UVC Box: An Effective Way to Quickly Decontaminate Healthcare Facilities’ Wheelchairs
by Cloé Adam, Marius Colin, Romuald Stock, Laurent Weiss and Sophie C. Gangloff
Life 2024, 14(2), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020256 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 560
Abstract
Disinfection in the hospital environment remains challenging, especially for wide and structurally complex objects such as beds or wheelchairs. Indeed, the regular disinfection of these objects with chemicals is manually carried out by healthcare workers and is fastidious and time-consuming. Alternative antibacterial techniques [...] Read more.
Disinfection in the hospital environment remains challenging, especially for wide and structurally complex objects such as beds or wheelchairs. Indeed, the regular disinfection of these objects with chemicals is manually carried out by healthcare workers and is fastidious and time-consuming. Alternative antibacterial techniques were thus proposed in the past decades, including the use of naturally antimicrobial UVC. Here, the antibacterial efficiency of a large UVC box built to accommodate wheelchairs was investigated through testing bacterial burden reductions on various parts of a wheelchair, with various support types and with several treatment durations. The results demonstrate a time-dependent antibacterial effect, with a strong burden reduction at only five minutes of treatment (>3-log median reduction in Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis). The UVC flux and residual bacterial burden both significantly varied depending on the spatial location on the wheelchair. However, the nature of the support impacted the antibacterial efficiency even more, with residual bacterial burdens being the lowest on rigid materials (steel, plastics) and being the highest on tissue. On metallic samples, the nature of the alloy and surface treatment had various impacts on the antibacterial efficiency of the UVC. This study highlights the efficiency of the tested UVC box to efficiently and quickly decontaminate complex objects such as wheelchairs, but also gives rise to the warning to focus on rigid materials and avoid porous materials in the conception of objects, so as to ensure the efficiency of UVC decontamination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Microbiology)
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15 pages, 1305 KiB  
Review
An Emerging Role of Micro- and Nanoplastics in Vascular Diseases
by Seung Eun Lee, Hyun Kyung Yoon, Do Yun Kim, Taek Seung Jeong and Yong Seek Park
Life 2024, 14(2), 255; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020255 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 907
Abstract
Vascular diseases are the leading causes of death worldwide, and they are attributable to multiple pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Exposure to various environmental contaminants is associated with the development of various diseases, including vascular diseases. Among environmental [...] Read more.
Vascular diseases are the leading causes of death worldwide, and they are attributable to multiple pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Exposure to various environmental contaminants is associated with the development of various diseases, including vascular diseases. Among environmental contaminants, micro- and nanoplastics have gained attention as global environmental risk factors that threaten human health. Recently, extensive research has been conducted on the effects of micro- and nanoplastics on various human diseases, including vascular diseases. In this review, we highlight the effects of micro- and nanoplastics on vascular diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases: 2nd Edition)
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12 pages, 1085 KiB  
Review
The Puzzle of Preimplantation Kidney Biopsy Decision-Making Process: The Pathologist Perspective
by Albino Eccher, Jan Ulrich Becker, Fabio Pagni, Giorgio Cazzaniga, Mattia Rossi, Giovanni Gambaro, Vincenzo L’Imperio and Stefano Marletta
Life 2024, 14(2), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020254 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 717
Abstract
Kidney transplantation is the best treatment for end-stage renal disease since it offers the greatest survival benefit compared to dialysis. The gap between the number of renal transplants performed and the number of patients awaiting renal transplants leads to a steadily increasing pressure [...] Read more.
Kidney transplantation is the best treatment for end-stage renal disease since it offers the greatest survival benefit compared to dialysis. The gap between the number of renal transplants performed and the number of patients awaiting renal transplants leads to a steadily increasing pressure on the scientific community. Kidney preimplantation biopsy is used as a component of the evaluation of organ quality before acceptance for transplantation. However, the reliability and predictive value of biopsy data are controversial. Most of the previously proposed predictive models were not associated with graft survival, but what has to be reaffirmed is that histologic examination of kidney tissue can provide an objective window on the state of the organ that cannot be deduced from clinical records and renal functional studies. The balance of evidence indicates that reliable decisions about donor suitability must be made based on the overall picture. This work discusses recent trends that can reduce diagnostic timing and variability among players in the decision-making process that lead to kidney transplants, from the pathologist’s perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kidney Transplantation: What’s Hot and What’s New)
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17 pages, 624 KiB  
Article
Oxytocin Modulation in Mindfulness-Based Pain Management for Chronic Pain
by Oytun Aygün, Emily Mohr, Colin Duff, Sophie Matthew and Poppy Schoenberg
Life 2024, 14(2), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020253 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1481
Abstract
In the context of chronic pain management, opioid-based treatments have been heavily relied upon, raising concerns related to addiction and misuse. Non-pharmacological approaches, such as Mindfulness-Based Pain Management, offer alternative strategies. We conducted a mechanistic clinical study to investigate the impact of an [...] Read more.
In the context of chronic pain management, opioid-based treatments have been heavily relied upon, raising concerns related to addiction and misuse. Non-pharmacological approaches, such as Mindfulness-Based Pain Management, offer alternative strategies. We conducted a mechanistic clinical study to investigate the impact of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Pain Management intervention on chronic pain, the modulation of inflammatory markers, stress physiology, and oxytocin, and their interplay with clinical pain symptoms and perception, in comparison to a patient wait-list active control. A total of 65 participants, including 50 chronic pain patients and 15 healthy controls, underwent salivary assays to assess endocrine markers, oxytocin, interleukin (IL)-1b, IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S). Psychological assessments were also conducted to evaluate aspects of pain perception, mindfulness, mood, and well-being. Findings revealed significant differences between chronic pain patients and healthy controls in various clinical metrics, highlighting the psychological distress experienced by patients. Following Mindfulness-Based Pain Management, oxytocin levels significantly increased in chronic pain patients, that was not observed in the patient wait-list control group. In contrast, cytokine and DHEA-S levels decreased (not to statistically significant margins) supporting anti-inflammatory effects of Mindfulness-Based Pain Management. The fact DHEA-S levels, a marker of stress, did attenuate but not to statistically meaningful levels, suggests that pain reduction was not solely related to stress reduction, and that oxytocin pathways may be more salient than previously considered. Psychological assessments demonstrated substantial improvements in pain perception and mood in the intervention group. These results contribute to the growing body of evidence regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in chronic pain management and underscore oxytocin’s potential role as a therapeutic target. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Paradigm Shift in Airway and Pain Management)
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14 pages, 1250 KiB  
Article
Effects of Land Use Type Transformation on the Structure and Diversity of Soil Bacterial Communities
by Henian Hua, Xin Sui, Yanan Liu, Xu Liu, Qiuyang Chang, Ruiting Xu, Mengsha Li and Liqiang Mu
Life 2024, 14(2), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020252 - 13 Feb 2024
Viewed by 671
Abstract
Soil microbiota are significantly influenced by their microenvironments. Therefore, to understand the impacts of various land use patterns on the diversity and composition of soil bacterial communities, this study focused on three typical land use types—NF (natural forest), AF (artificial forests), and FL [...] Read more.
Soil microbiota are significantly influenced by their microenvironments. Therefore, to understand the impacts of various land use patterns on the diversity and composition of soil bacterial communities, this study focused on three typical land use types—NF (natural forest), AF (artificial forests), and FL (farmland)—in the Heilongjiang Central Station Black-billed Capercaillie National Nature Reserve, located in the southwestern part of Heihe City, Heilongjiang Province, China. Using high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, we examined the soil bacterial community structures in these different land use types and explored their correlation with soil environmental factors. The following were our main observations: (1) Significant variations in soil chemical properties among different land use patterns were observed. In artificial forests, total nitrogen (TN), alkali hydrolyzed nitrogen (AN), total phosphorus (TP), and available phosphorus (AP) were higher compared to farmland and significantly higher than those in natural forests. Furthermore, the organic carbon content (SOC) in natural forests was higher than in artificial forests and significantly higher than in farmland. (2) Comparative analysis using the Shannon and Simpson indices revealed that bacterial community diversity was higher in artificial forests than in natural forests, which was significantly higher than in farmland. (3) The effect of different land use types on soil bacterial community structure was not significant. The three land types were dominated by Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria. Proteobacteria exhibited a higher relative abundance in farmland and artificial forests compared to natural forests, whereas Actinobacteria exhibited the lowest relative abundance in natural forests. (4) Redundancy analysis (RDA) revealed that SOC, TN, AN, and AP were key environmental factors influencing the microbial communities of soil. Collectively, our findings demonstrated that land use practices can significantly alter soil nutrient levels, thereby influencing the structure of bacterial communities. Full article
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24 pages, 15626 KiB  
Article
Cultivation of Chroococcidiopsis thermalis Using Available In Situ Resources to Sustain Life on Mars
by Giacomo Fais, Mattia Casula, Agnieszka Sidorowicz, Alessia Manca, Valentina Margarita, Pier Luigi Fiori, Antonella Pantaleo, Pierluigi Caboni, Giacomo Cao and Alessandro Concas
Life 2024, 14(2), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020251 - 13 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1365
Abstract
The cultivation of cyanobacteria by exploiting available in situ resources represents a possible way to supply food and oxygen to astronauts during long-term crewed missions on Mars. Here, we evaluated the possibility of cultivating the extremophile cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis thermalis CCALA 050 under operating [...] Read more.
The cultivation of cyanobacteria by exploiting available in situ resources represents a possible way to supply food and oxygen to astronauts during long-term crewed missions on Mars. Here, we evaluated the possibility of cultivating the extremophile cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis thermalis CCALA 050 under operating conditions that should occur within a dome hosting a recently patented process to produce nutrients and oxygen on Mars. The medium adopted to cultivate this cyanobacterium, named Martian medium, was obtained using a mixture of regolith leachate and astronauts’ urine simulants that would be available in situ resources whose exploitation could reduce the mission payload. The results demonstrated that C. thermalis can grow in such a medium. For producing high biomass, the best medium consisted of specific percentages (40%vol) of Martian medium and a standard medium (60%vol). Biomass produced in such a medium exhibits excellent antioxidant properties and contains significant amounts of pigments. Lipidomic analysis demonstrated that biomass contains strategic lipid classes able to help the astronauts facing the oxidative stress and inflammatory phenomena taking place on Mars. These characteristics suggest that this strain could serve as a valuable nutritional resource for astronauts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Space Life Sciences)
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9 pages, 1856 KiB  
Case Report
Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension and Subdural Hematomas Treatment Management Using MMA Embolization and Target Blood Patch: A Case Report
by Luigi Cirillo, Francesca Verna, Ciro Princiotta, Massimo Dall’Olio, Arianna Rustici, Carlo Bortolotti, Filippo Badaloni, Davide Mascarella, Pietro Cortelli and Sabina Cevoli
Life 2024, 14(2), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14020250 - 13 Feb 2024
Viewed by 639
Abstract
We report a patient suffering from spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) who, following a non-selective lumbar blood patch, returned to his healthcare provider with severe symptoms of neurological deficits. It was subsequently discovered that the aforementioned deficits were due to a bilateral subdural hematoma, [...] Read more.
We report a patient suffering from spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) who, following a non-selective lumbar blood patch, returned to his healthcare provider with severe symptoms of neurological deficits. It was subsequently discovered that the aforementioned deficits were due to a bilateral subdural hematoma, and an emergency surgical drainage of the hematoma has been performed. However, the hematoma reformed and potential cerebrospinal fluid leakage was consequently investigated through myelography. Following the diagnostic finding of a venous diverticulum, a selective blood patch was executed in the affected area, and in order to stabilize the hematoma, an embolization of the middle meningeal arteries was performed. The combination of such operations allowed for the resorption of the hematoma and the improvement of neurological symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Problems and New Horizons in Headache Clinical Practice)
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