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Infertility is an important reproductive health problem, and male infertility is especially important in more than half of infertility cases. Due to the importance of genetic factors in this condition, analysis of semen alone is not enough to recognize men with idiopathic infertility. A molecular non-invasive investigation is necessary to gain valuable information. Currently, microRNAs (miRNAs) are being used as non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers. miRNAs, single-stranded non-coding RNA molecules, act as post-transcriptional gene silencing regulators either by inhibition or repression of translation. Changes in the regulation of miRNAs have been investigated in several different types of male infertility, therefore the biological role of miRNA and gene targets has been defined. The purpose of this study was to review recent research on the altered expression of miRNA in semen, sperm, and testicular biopsy samples in infertile males with different types of unexplained infertility. Changes in miRNA regulation were investigated using microarray and the miRNA levels were confirmed by real-time qRT-PCR. This review explains why creating a non-invasive diagnostic method for male infertility is necessary and how changes in miRNA expression can be used as new diagnostic biomarkers in patients with differing spermatogenic and histopathologic injury.
Pakistan is a lower middle-income country, which to date has had very little research and policy making to address the challenge of dementia. This study aims to explore the perceptions of dementia in a group of Pakistani adults. A series of focus group discussions were completed during 2017 with men and women in two metropolitan centres in Pakistan (Lahore and Karachi) (N = 40). Two vignettes, depicting someone with mild dementia and someone with severe dementia, were used to facilitate discussions. An induction-led thematic analysis was completed. Five themes were identified, reflecting (a) dementia awareness, (b) responsibility, (c) barriers to health care, (d) identified support needs, and (e) religion. Most participants had little awareness and knowledge about dementia, commonly understood to be a disease of forgetting or just normal ageing. Thus, there is an urgent need of a nation-wide campaign to raise dementia awareness in Pakistan, though this needs to be accompanied by improved, accessible health and social care services.
Natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, in addition to physical complications, have always had psychological consequences for those affected by them. Stuttering is one of the psychological consequences of shocking events. After a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Hojedk, Kerman, Iran, two 5-year-old children and a 4-year-old child with symptoms of discontinuous speech (including repeated sound, syllable, and words) were referred to the Kerman Welfare Organization’s rehabilitation center (Kerman, Iran). After history-taking, it became clear that the children had begun to stutter after the earthquake due to fear and stress. Considering the importance of negative emotional experiences in the onset of stuttering, it cannot really be said with certainty that the negative experience of the earthquake initiated the stuttering. Rather, the stuttering had not been present before the earthquake and appeared after the event. These cases indicate the importance of psychosocial support and speech therapy after disasters, especially for children that have higher psychological vulnerability than other age groups.
It is shown that an electron, positron and ion plasma can be self-organized to a double Beltrami state – the superposition of two force-free states. The scale parameters which determine the nature of the self-organized structures are found to depend on the number densities of the plasma species. The loss of equilibrium in slowly evolving double Beltrmi states is investigated. The effects of density ratios, helicities, positron flows and energy on equilibrium are investigated. It is found that the double Beltrami state transforms to a single Beltrami state at the termination of equilibrium. It is also shown that much of the magnetic energy converts to the flow kinetic energy through catastrophic transformation.
In cotton–wheat cropping system of Pakistan, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is harvested in late April; however, the optimum sowing time of Bt cotton is mid-March. This indicates a time difference of 4–6 weeks between the harvest of wheat and cotton sowing. It is hypothesized that this overlapping period may be managed by transplanting cotton seedlings (30–45 days old) in late April, after the harvest of wheat due to better performance of already established seedlings. To this end, this study was conducted to evaluate the allometric traits and fiber quality of transplanted Bt cotton after harvesting wheat in the cotton–wheat cropping system. The Bt cotton–wheat cropping systems were flat sown wheat (FSW)–conventionally tilled cotton, FSW–zero tilled cotton, ridge sown wheat–ridge transplanted cotton using 30- and 45-days-old seedlings, and bed sown wheat (BSW)–bed transplanted cotton (BTC) also using 30- and 45-days-old seedlings. The study was conducted at Vehari and Multan in Punjab, Pakistan. Bt cotton in BSW–BTC with 45-days-old seedlings showed better performance for allometric (leaf area index; (LAI), net assimilation rate; (NAR), and crop growth rate; (CGR)), seed cotton yield, and fiber traits (fiber uniformity, fiber length, fiber strength, and fiber fineness) in comparison to other treatments. Most of the fiber quality traits were positively correlated with allometric traits and biological yield (dry matter yield at maturity) at both locations, except correlations of CGR and LAI with fiber fineness and fiber length and NAR with fiber length. As plant growth and fiber quality of transplanted cotton was significantly higher than conventionally grown cotton, our data indicate transplanting is an interesting management practice for improving productivity in wheat–cotton cropping systems.
In this paper, adaptive noise estimation is used along with a previously proposed Huber-based robust algorithm for cooperative localisation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). The Huber-based robust cooperative localisation algorithm named Huber-based Iterative Divided Difference Filtering (HIDDF), proposed in our previous work, effectively achieved a robust result against abnormal measurement noise, enhanced the stability of the filtering algorithm and improved the performance of cooperative localisation state estimation. However, its performance could be significantly further improved if it could estimate the system's noise statistical properties online in real time and then adaptively adjust the filtering gain matrix accordingly. In this paper, a novel adaptive noise estimation algorithm is proposed based on a covariance matching method. The proposed algorithm is suitable for adaptively estimating Gaussian and non-Gaussian measurement as well as process noise. The efficacy of the proposed algorithm has been verified through simulation results. In order to further verify the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm in practical systems, lake tests were conducted. Then, based on offline test data, the performance of the cooperative positioning algorithm under dual-pilot and single-pilot schemes was simulated. The advantages and feasibility of the algorithm are analysed and compared through performance comparison. Cooperative localisation accuracy of the previously proposed Huber-based robust algorithm has been enhanced significantly when used with the proposed adaptive noise estimation algorithm.
We use irradiation with 50-MeV Cu-ions to create vortex pinning defects in high-temperature superconducting Y1Ba2Cu3O7-x coated conductors using a beam-rastering approach that allows for the uniform irradiation of large ample areas. Our samples contain barium zirconate nanorods as pre-existing vortex pinning defects. By irradiating the samples at angles of 0o, 15oand 30o from the crystallographic c-axis we explore the interplay between pre-existing and irradiation-induced pinning and find that irradiation at 30o leads to a moderate enhancement of Jc at 5 K at high fields (greater than 2 Tesla). In contrast, Jc was suppressed for all temperatures and fields for other angles of irradiation. Optimized particle irradiation procedures offer a way for improving the performance of high-temperature superconducting wires for use in high magnetic fields without the need for changing wire synthesis protocols.
The purpose of this study is the verification of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) head neck treatment planning with one-dimensional and two-dimensional (2D) dosimeters using imaging and radiation oncology core (IROC) Houston head & neck (H&N) phantom.
The image of the H&N phantom was obtained by computed tomography scan which was then transferred to Pinnacle@3 treatment planning system (TPS) for treatment planning. The contouring of the target volumes and critical organ were done manually and dose constraints were set for each organ according to IROC prescription. The plan was optimised by adoptive convolution algorithm to meet the IROC criteria and collapse cone convolution algorithm calculated the delivered doses for treatment. Varian Clinac 2110 was used to deliver the treatment plan to the phantom, the process of irradiation and measurement were repeated three times for reproducibility and reliability. The treatment plan was verified by measuring the doses from thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) and GafChromic external beam therapy 2 films. The agreement between the planned and delivered doses were checked by calculating the percentage dose differences, analysing their isodose line profiles and 2D gamma maps.
The average percent dose difference of 1·8% was obtained between computed doses by TPS and measured doses from TLDs, however these differences were found to be higher for organ at risk. The film dose profile was well in agreement with the planned dose distribution with distance to agreement of 1·5 mm. The gamma analysis of the computed and recorded doses passed the criteria of 3%/3 mm with passing percentages of >96%, which shows successful authentication of delivered doses for IMRT.
IMRT pre-treatment validation can be done with IROC anthropomorphic phantoms, which is essential for the delivery of modulated radiotherapies. It was concluded that films and TLDs can be used as quality assurance tools for IMRT.
To verify dose delivery and quality assurance of volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) for head and neck (H&N) cancer.
The Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core Houston (IROC-H) H&N phantom with thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) and films, were imaged with computed tomography scan and the reconstructed image was transferred to pinnacle treatment planning system (TPS). On TPS, the planning target volume (PTV), secondary target volume (STV) and organ at risk (OAR) were delineated manually and a treatment plan was made. The dose constraints were determined for the concerned organs according to IROC-H prescription. The treatment plan was optimised using adoptive convolution algorithm to improve dose homogeneity and conformity. The dose calculation was performed using C.C Convolution algorithm and a Varian True Beam linear accelerator was used to deliver the treatment plan to the H&N phantom. The delivered radiation dose to the phantom was measured through TLDs and GafChromic external beam radiotherapy 2 (EBT2) films. The dosimetric performance of the VMAT delivery was studied by analysing percent dose difference, isodose line profile and gamma analysis of the TPS-computed dose and linac-delivered doses.
The percent dose difference of 3.8% was observed between the planned and measured doses of TLDs and a 1.5-mm distance to agreement (DTA) was observed by comparing isodose line profiles. Passed the gamma criteria of 3%/3 mm was with good percentages.
The dosimetric performance of VMAT delivery for a challenging H&N radiotherapy can be verified using TLDs and films embedded in an anthropomorphic H&N phantom.
Cobalt-doped ZnO (CZO) film nanocomposites have been deposited on Si(100) substrates by pulsed electron beam ablation from a single Co0.2Zn0.8O target. The films have been deposited at various electron beam repetition rates (1, 2, 4, and 8 Hz), under a background argon (Ar) pressure of ∼3 mtorr, an accelerating voltage of 16 kV, and a deposition temperature of 450 °C. The effect of beam frequency on the structural, chemical, and morphological properties of the films has been assessed. The findings reveal that film thickness, film roughness, and degree of crystallinity of the ZnO wurtzite structure increase with beam frequency, while globule size and density reach maximum and minimum values, respectively, as the beam frequency is increased. The pulse frequency does not appear to affect the average nanoparticulate size. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy data support the co-existence of metallic cobalt (Co0), CoO, and Co2O3 in CZO films near the surface. Phase analysis by X-ray diffraction also confirms the presence of hexagonal close-packed metallic cobalt whose content in the films is practically unaffected by beam frequency.
Accurate three-dimensional dosimetry is essential in modern radiotherapy techniques such as volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). In this research work, the PRESAGE® dosimeter was used as quality assurance (QA) tool for VMAT planning for head and neck (H&N) cancer.
Material and method
Computer tomography (CT) scans of an Image Radiation Oncology Core (IROC) H&N anthropomorphic phantom with both IROC standard insert and PRESAGE® insert were acquired separately. Both CT scans were imported into the Pinnacle (9.4 version) TPS for treatment planning, where the structures [planning target volume (PTV), organs at risk) and thermoluminescent detectors (TLDs) were manually contoured and used to optimise a VMAT plan. Treatment planning was done using VMAT (dual arc: 182°–178°, 178°–182°). Beam profile comparisons and gamma analysis were used to quantify agreement with film, PRESAGE® measurement and treatment planning system (TPS) calculated dose distribution.
The average ratio of TLD measured to calculated doses at the four PTV locations in the H&N phantom were between 0·95 to 0·99 for all three VMAT deliveries. Dose profiles were taken along the left–right, the anterior–posterior and superior–inferior axes, and good agreement was found between the PRESAGE® and Pinnacle profile. The mean value of gamma results for three VMAT deliveries in axial and sagittal planes were found to be 94·24 and 93·16% when compared with film and Pinnacle, respectively. The average values comparing the PRESAGE® results and dose values calculated on Pinnacle were observed to be 95·29 and 94·38% in the said planes, respectively, using a 5%/3 mm gamma criteria.
The PRESAGE® dose measurements and calculated dose of pinnacle show reasonable agreement in both axial and sagittal planes for complex dual arc VMAT treatment plans. In general, the PRESAGE® dosimeter is found to be a feasible QA tool of VMAT plan for H&N cancer treatment.
Millimeter-wave (mm-wave) beam-steering antennas are preferred for reducing the disruptive effects, such as those caused by high atmospheric debilitation in wireless communications systems. In this work, a compact broadband antenna array with a low loss feed network design is introduced. To overcome the short-range effects on mm-wave frequencies, a feed network – with a modified Butler matrix and a compact zeroth-order resonance antenna element – has been designed. Furthermore, the aperture feed technique has been utilized to provide a broadside stable pattern and improve the delivered gain. A Fabry-Perot layer without the height of the air layer is used. Taking advantage of this novel design, a broadband and compact beam-steering array antenna – capable of covering impedance bandwidths (from 33.84 to 36.59 GHz) and scanning a solid angle of about ~94°, with a peak gain of 17.6 dBi – is attained.
Strenuous physical exercise and hyperthermia may paradoxically induce oxidative stress and adverse effects on myocardial function. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of 14-d coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation and pre-cooling on serum creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB), cardiac Troponin I (cTnI), myoglobin (Mb), lactate dehydrogenase (LD), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), lipid peroxidation (LPO) and CoQ10 concentration in elite swimmers. In total, thirty-six healthy males (mean age 17 (sd 1) years) were randomly selected and divided into four groups of supplementation, supplementation with pre-cooling, pre-cooling and control. During an eighteen-session protocol in the morning and evening, subjects attended speed and endurance swimming training sessions for 5 km in each session. Blood sampling was done before (two stages) and after (two stages) administration of CoQ10 and pre-cooling. ANCOVA and repeated measurement tests with Bonferroni post hoc test were used for the statistical analysis of the data. There was no significant statistical difference among groups for the levels of CK-MB, cTnI, Mb, LD, TAC, LPO and CoQ10 at the presampling (stages 1 and 2) (P>0·05). However, pre-cooling and control groups show a significant increase in the levels of CK-MB, cTnI, Mb, LD and LPO compared with the supplementation and supplementation with pre-cooling groups in the post-sampling (stages 1 and 2) (P<0·05), except for the TAC and CoQ10. Consequently, CoQ10 supplementation prevents adverse changes of myocardial damage and oxidative stress during swimming competition phase. Meanwhile, the pre-cooling strategy individually has no desired effect on the levels of CK-MB, cTnI, Mb, LD, LPO, TAC and CoQ10.
Dendritic growth during charging period is one of the main barriers for the rechargeablity of conventional batteries. Additionally this phenomenon hinders the utilization of high energy density metal candidates by limiting the safety and allowable operating condition for these devices. We address the role of square wave pulse on the growth dynamics of dendrites in the continuum scale and large time periods by formulating an analytical criterion. Our dimension-free analysis permits the application our results to a variety of electrochemical systems in diverse scales.
Evidence suggests adolescent self-esteem is influenced by beliefs of how individuals in their reference group perceive them. However, few studies examine how gender- and violence-related social norms affect self-esteem among refugee populations. This paper explores relationships between gender inequitable and victim-blaming social norms, personal attitudes, and self-esteem among adolescent girls participating in a life skills program in three Ethiopian refugee camps.
Ordinary least squares multivariable regression analysis was used to assess the associations between attitudes and social norms, and self-esteem. Key independent variables of interest included a scale measuring personal attitudes toward gender inequitable norms, a measure of perceived injunctive norms capturing how a girl believed her family and community would react if she was raped, and a peer-group measure of collective descriptive norms surrounding gender inequity. The key outcome variable, self-esteem, was measured using the Rosenberg self-esteem scale.
Girl's personal attitudes toward gender inequitable norms were not significantly predictive of self-esteem at endline, when adjusting for other covariates. Collective peer norms surrounding the same gender inequitable statements were significantly predictive of self-esteem at endline (ß = −0.130; p = 0.024). Additionally, perceived injunctive norms surrounding family and community-based sanctions for victims of forced sex were associated with a decline in self-esteem at endline (ß = −0.103; p = 0.014). Significant findings for collective descriptive norms and injunctive norms remained when controlling for all three constructs simultaneously.
Findings suggest shifting collective norms around gender inequity, particularly at the community and peer levels, may sustainably support the safety and well-being of adolescent girls in refugee settings.
Digital libraries content and quality of services are badly affected by the author name ambiguity problem in the citations and it is considered as one of the hardest problems faced by the digital library researchers. Several techniques have been proposed in the literature for the author name ambiguity problem. In this paper, we reviewed some recently presented author name disambiguation techniques and give some challenges and future research directions. We analyze the recent advancements in this field and classify these techniques into supervised, unsupervised, semi-supervised, graph-based and heuristic-based techniques according to their problem formulation that is mainly used for the author name disambiguation. A few surveys have been conducted to review different techniques for the author name disambiguation. These surveys highlighted only the methodology adopted for author name disambiguation but did not critically review their shortcomings. This survey provides a detailed review of author name disambiguation techniques available in the literature, makes a comparison of these techniques at an abstract level and discusses their limitations.
The addition of acids generally lowers the pH and buffering capacity of the diet, reduces pH within the stomach, increases both gastric proteolysis and nutrient digestibility, promotes beneficial bacteria at the expense of pathogenic organisms and decreases intestinal bacterial growth. As a consequence there is an improvement in gastrointestinal health, resulting in enhanced growth performance and improved feed efficiency. Mixture of Organic acids has shown to be an effective alternative to eliminate salmonellas in feeds and chickens. Organic acids reduce the pH in the digestive tract and are able to suppress the growth of undesired micro organisms, mainly in the upper part of the digestive tract depending on the place and rate of absorption. The faster the acids are absorbed the smaller is the pH lowering effect. This effect is directly influenced by the acid binding capacity of the diet. Therefore the aim of this study was to determine that antibiotic growth promoter could be replaced by a mixture of organic acids.