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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
The initial classic Fontan utilising a direct right atrial appendage to pulmonary artery anastomosis led to numerous complications. Adults with such complications may benefit from conversion to a total cavo-pulmonary connection, the current standard palliation for children with univentricular hearts.
A single institution, retrospective chart review was conducted for all Fontan conversion procedures performed from July, 1999 through January, 2017. Variables analysed included age, sex, reason for Fontan conversion, age at Fontan conversion, and early mortality or heart transplant within 1 year after Fontan conversion.
A total of 41 Fontan conversion patients were identified. Average age at Fontan conversion was 24.5 ± 9.2 years. Dominant left ventricular physiology was present in 37/41 (90.2%) patients. Right-sided heart failure occurred in 39/41 (95.1%) patients and right atrial dilation was present in 33/41 (80.5%) patients. The most common causes for Fontan conversion included atrial arrhythmia in 37/41 (90.2%), NYHA class II HF or greater in 31/41 (75.6%), ventricular dysfunction in 23/41 (56.1%), and cirrhosis or fibrosis in 7/41 (17.1%) patients. Median post-surgical follow-up was 6.2 ± 4.9 years. Survival rates at 30 days, 1 year, and greater than 1-year post-Fontan conversion were 95.1, 92.7, and 87.8%, respectively. Two patients underwent heart transplant: the first within 1 year of Fontan conversion for heart failure and the second at 5.3 years for liver failure.
Fontan conversion should be considered early when atrial arrhythmias become common rather than waiting for severe heart failure to ensue, and Fontan conversion can be accomplished with an acceptable risk profile.
Intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) is associated with adverse metabolic outcome later in life. Healthy mice challenged with a Western-style diet (WSD) accumulated less body fat when previously fed a diet containing large lipid globules (complex lipid matrix (CLM)). This study was designed to clarify whether an early-life CLM diet mitigates ‘programmed’ visceral adiposity and associated metabolic sequelae after IUGR. In rats, IUGR was induced either by bilateral uterine vessel ligation (LIG) or sham operation (i.e. intra-uterine stress) of the dam on gestational day 19. Offspring from non-operated (NOP) dams served as controls. Male offspring of all groups were either fed CLM or ‘normal matrix’ control diet (CTRL) from postnatal days (PND) 15 to 42. Thereafter, animals were challenged with a mild WSD until dissection (PND 98). Fat mass (micro computer-tomograph scan; weight of fat compartments), circulating metabolic markers and expression of ‘metabolic’ genes (quantitative real-time PCR) were assessed. CLM diet significantly reduced visceral fat mass in LIG at PND 40. At dissection, visceral fat mass, fasted blood glucose, TAG and leptin concentrations were significantly increased in LIG-CTRL v. NOP-CTRL, and significantly decreased in LIG-CLM v. LIG-CTRL. Gene expression levels of leptin (mesenteric fat) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (liver) were significantly reduced in LIG-CLM v. LIG-CTRL. In conclusion, early-life CLM diet mitigated the adverse metabolic phenotype after utero-placental insufficiency. The supramolecular structure of dietary lipids may be a novel aspect of nutrient quality that has to be considered in the context of primary prevention of obesity and metabolic disease in at-risk populations.
For exploring the prospect of higher-k dielectric phase engineering on a high
mobility substrate, films of Hf1-xZrxO2 with
varying x-values (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) were deposited on
Al2O3 passivated Ge substrates using atomic layer
deposition (ALD) with a cyclic deposit-anneal-deposit-anneal (DADA) scheme. The
evolution of monoclinic to higher-k tetragonal structure with increasing
ZrO2 concentration was probed by grazing incident x-ray
diffraction and partial reciprocal space maps using the highly brilliant
synchrotron x-ray source at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS).
A primarily amorphous/nano-crystalline matrix of the asdeposited films changed
to randomly aligned grains of nanocrystalline MO2 (M=Hf, Zr)
after post deposition annealing at 800 °C for 200 seconds. In contrast,
the DADA films annealed for same thermal budget showed high degree of preferred
orientation along certain crystallographic directions. With increasing
ZrO2 content, the structure of the films changed from a monoclinic to
a tetragonal phase. A lower amount of ZrO2 (x = 0.33) was
required for stabilizing the tetragonal phase in films grown on
Al2O3 passivated Ge substrate as compared to similar
films grown on a Si substrate via the same DADA process (x ≥
Recent studies suggest that sand can serve as a vehicle for exposure of humans to pathogens at beach sites, resulting in increased health risks. Sampling for microorganisms in sand should therefore be considered for inclusion in regulatory programmes aimed at protecting recreational beach users from infectious disease. Here, we review the literature on pathogen levels in beach sand, and their potential for affecting human health. In an effort to provide specific recommendations for sand sampling programmes, we outline published guidelines for beach monitoring programmes, which are currently focused exclusively on measuring microbial levels in water. We also provide background on spatial distribution and temporal characteristics of microbes in sand, as these factors influence sampling programmes. First steps toward establishing a sand sampling programme include identifying appropriate beach sites and use of initial sanitary assessments to refine site selection. A tiered approach is recommended for monitoring. This approach would include the analysis of samples from many sites for faecal indicator organisms and other conventional analytes, while testing for specific pathogens and unconventional indicators is reserved for high-risk sites. Given the diversity of microbes found in sand, studies are urgently needed to identify the most significant aetiological agent of disease and to relate microbial measurements in sand to human health risk.
Children in care often have poor outcomes. There is a lack of evaluative
research into intervention options.
To examine the efficacy of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care for
Adolescents (MTFC-A) compared with usual care for young people at risk in
foster care in England.
A two-arm single (assessor) blinded randomised controlled trial (RCT)
embedded within an observational quasi-experimental case–control study
involving 219 young people aged 11–16 years (trial registration: ISRCTN
68038570). The primary outcome was the Child Global Assessment Scale
(CGAS). Secondary outcomes were ratings of educational attendance,
achievement and rate of offending.
The MTFC-A group showed a non-significant improvement in CGAS outcome in
both the randomised cohort (n = 34, adjusted mean
difference 1.3, 95% CI −7.1 to 9.7, P = 0.75) and in the
trimmed observational cohort (n = 185, adjusted mean
difference 0.95, 95% CI −2.38 to 4.29, P = 0.57). No
significant effects were seen in secondary outcomes. There was a possible
differential effect of the intervention according to antisocial
There was no evidence that the use of MTFC-A resulted in better outcomes
than usual care. The intervention may be more beneficial for young people
with antisocial behaviour but less beneficial than usual treatment for
Whole-grain intake has been reported to be associated with a lower risk of several lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, CVD and some types of cancers. As measurement errors in self-reported whole-grain intake assessments can be substantial, dietary biomarkers are relevant to be used as complementary tools for dietary intake assessment. Alkylresorcinols (AR) are phenolic lipids found almost exclusively in whole-grain wheat and rye products among the commonly consumed foods and are considered as valid biomarkers of the intake of these products. In the present study, we analysed the plasma concentrations of five AR homologues in 2845 participants from ten European countries from a nested case–control study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. High concentrations of plasma total AR were found in participants from Scandinavia and Central Europe and lower concentrations in those from the Mediterranean countries. The geometric mean plasma total AR concentrations were between 35 and 41 nmol/l in samples drawn from fasting participants in the Central European and Scandinavian countries and below 23 nmol/l in those of participants from the Mediterranean countries. The whole-grain source (wheat or rye) could be determined using the ratio of two of the homologues. The main source was wheat in Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, whereas rye was also consumed in considerable amounts in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. The present study demonstrates a considerable variation in the plasma concentrations of total AR and concentrations of AR homologues across ten European countries, reflecting both quantitative and qualitative differences in the intake of whole-grain wheat and rye.