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Northeastern China is a region of high tick abundance, multiple tick-borne pathogens and likely human infections. The spectrum of diseases caused by tick-borne pathogens has not been objectively evaluated in this region for clinical management and for comparison with other regions globally where tick-transmitted diseases are common. Based on clinical symptoms, PCR, indirect immunofluorescent assay and (or) blood smear, we identified and described tick-borne diseases from patients with recent tick bite seen at Mudanjiang Forestry Central Hospital. From May 2010 to September 2011, 42% (75/180) of patients were diagnosed with a specific tick-borne disease, including Lyme borreliosis, tick-borne encephalitis, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, human babesiosis and spotted fever group rickettsiosis. When we compared clinical and laboratory features to identify factors that might discriminate tick-transmitted infections from those lacking that evidence, we revealed that erythema migrans and neurological manifestations were statistically significantly differently presented between those with and without documented aetiologies (P < 0.001, P = 0.003). Twelve patients (6.7%, 12/180) were co-infected with two tick-borne pathogens. We demonstrated the poor ability of clinicians to identify the specific tick-borne disease. In addition, it is necessary to develop specific laboratory assays for optimal diagnosis of tick-borne diseases.
One of the critical prerequisites for accurately measuring the mechanical properties of profiled fibers is the precise determination of their cross-sectional areas (CSAs). In this study, a new method is established for determining a single profiled fibers’ CSA based on the frozen section method and digital photo, pixel-ratio method (FS-DP). FS-DP is used to obtain a transverse section of a fiber, by acquiring an image of the cross section using optical microscopy or scanning electron microscopy, and then calculating the CSA using Photoshop. Using FS-DP, it was found that the shape of a fiber of silk changes little in a range of 50 μm, but varies considerably over a range of 1 m, while the CSA of cocoon silk (900 m) first increases and then decreases. Mechanical property tests showed that the elongation, strength, elastic modulus, and toughness values of the cocoon silk are consistent with those reported previously. Additionally, FS-DP was also used to observe other profiled fibers. The application tests indicated that FS-DP can be used to quickly and accurately obtain the CSA of a single profiled fiber, and that it is suitable for the large-scale determination and analysis of the mechanical properties of profiled fibers.
In this paper, we introduce a lower extremity exoskeleton CUHK-EXO that is developed to help paraplegic patients, who have lost the motor and sensory functions of their lower limbs to perform basic daily life motions. Since the sit-to-stand and stand-to-sit (STS) motion is the first step for paraplegic patients toward walking, analysis of the exoskeleton's applicability to the STS motion assistance is performed. First, the human-exoskeleton system (HES) is modeled as a five-link model during the STS motion, and the center of pressure (COP) on the ground and center of gravity of the whole system are calculated. Then, a description of the CUHK-EXO hardware design is presented, including the mechatronics design and actuator selection. The COP position is an important factor indicating system balance and wearer's comfort. Based on the COP position, a trajectory online modification algorithm (TOMA) is proposed for CUHK-EXO to counteract disturbances, stabilize system balance, and improve the wearer's comfort in the STS motion. The results of STS motion tests conducted with a paraplegic patient demonstrate that CUHK-EXO can provide a normal reference pattern and proper assistive torque to support the patient's STS motion. In addition, a pilot study is conducted with a healthy subject to verify the effectiveness of the proposed TOMA under external disturbances before future clinical trials. The testing results verify that CUHK-EXO can counteract disturbances, and help the wearer perform the STS motion safely and comfortably.
Although alterations in the dendritic spine density in the brain regions may play a role in the stress-induced depression-like phenotype, the precise mechanisms are unknown. The aim was to investigate the role of spine density in the brain regions after chronic social defeat stress (CSDS).
We examined dendritic spine density in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), CA1, CA3, dentate gyrus (DG) of hippocampus, nucleus accumbens (NAc), and ventral tegmental area (VTA) of susceptible and resilient mice after CSDS.
Spine density in the prelimbic area of mPFC, CA3, and DG in the susceptible group, but not resilient group, was significantly lower than control group. In contrast, spine density in the NAc and VTA in the susceptible group, but not resilient group, was significantly higher than control group.
The results suggest that regional differences in spine density may contribute to resilience versus susceptibility in mice subjected to CSDS.
Research suggests that an 8-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
(MBCT) course may be effective for generalised anxiety disorder
To compare changes in anxiety levels among participants with GAD randomly
assigned to MBCT, cognitive–behavioural therapy-based psychoeducation and
In total, 182 participants with GAD were recruited (trial registration
number: CUHK_CCT00267) and assigned to the three groups and followed for
5 months after baseline assessment with the two intervention groups
followed for an additional 6 months. Primary outcomes were anxiety and
Linear mixed models demonstrated significant group × time interaction
(F(4,148) = 5.10, P = 0.001) effects
for decreased anxiety for both the intervention groups relative to usual
care. Significant group × time interaction effects were observed for
worry and depressive symptoms and mental health-related quality of life
for the psychoeducation group only.
These results suggest that both of the interventions appear to be
superior to usual care for the reduction of anxiety symptoms.
We conducted community interviews and field surveys to determine the distribution and population of the Endangered Shortridge's capped langur Trachypithecus shortridgei, and the threats to the species, in the Dulong and Nu River valleys of north-western Yunnan Province, China. We found that c. 19 groups of T. shortridgei reside in the Dulong valley, mostly located in the southern portion of the valley. According to interview and observational records in the Gaoligong Mountains to the west of the Nu River, 12 individuals and no groups were observed. Family groups consist of one adult male, 2–3 adult females and up to five young. We estimate the population of T. shortridgei in China to be c. 250–370 individuals. Threats to the species include habitat loss and poaching. We suggest several measures to conserve T. shortridgei, such as a review of the Gaoligong National Nature Reserve management strategy, and increasing engagement, education, inclusion of local people in forest management, and the consistency of enforcement.
Introduction: The mortality of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and its associated risk factors among clinically definite PD patients in China has been rarely investigated. Our study aimed to identify the mortality rates and predictors of death in PD patients in China. Methods: 157 consecutive, clinically definite PD patients from the urban area of Shanghai were recruited from a central hospital based movement disorder clinic in 2006. All patients were regularly followed up at the clinic until December 31, 2011, or death. Mortality and associations with baseline demographics, health and medical factors were then determined within the cohort. Results: After 5 years, 11(7%) patients had died. The standardised mortality ratio was 0.62 (95% CI 0.32 to 1.07, P=0.104). The main causes of death were pneumonia (54.5%, 6/11) and digestive disorders (18.2%, 2/11), respectively. Age at onset, independent living, the mini mental state examination score, the Parkinson’s disease sleep scale score and the Epworth sleepiness scale score at baseline were statistically significantly different between the survival group and the deceased group (P<0.05). Across all participants, risk factors for death included low mini mental state examination score, and high Epworth sleepiness scale score according to a binary variable logistic regression analysis. Conclusions: This study confirms the similar survival of patients with PD to the control population up to a follow-up of 5 years. Interventions tailored to potential risk factors associated with death may offer further benefits.
In this paper, the Ni-decorated ZnO photocatalysts with magnetic separable characteristics were prepared by a simple replacing-hydrothermal process for the first time. The as-synthesized composites were characterized by powder x-ray diffraction, UV–visible diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscope, transmission electron microscopy, and so on. It is found that the introduction of Ni (as Ni0 and Ni2+ forms) turned the morphologies of ZnO photocatalysts, enhanced photoabsorption in a visible light region, and increased amount of surface adsorbed oxygen. The photodegradation test of anthraquinone dye (reactive brilliant blue KN-R) indicated that the Ni-decorated ZnO photocatalysts have better activities as compared to the ZnO reference. The enhancement of photocatalytic activity of Ni-decorated ZnO photocatalysts can be attributed to the existence of Ni2+ doping, Ni0/ZnO heterostructure, and abundant-adsorbed oxygen (as the electronic scavenges), which caused efficient separation of electron–hole pairs in Ni-decorated ZnO photocatalysts. Furthermore, the introduction of metallic Ni also endued ZnO with good magnetic recoverability. The re-collected experiments by external magnetic field indicated that Ni-decorated ZnO as a magnetically recoverable photocatalyst is acceptable.
Genetic variation in wild soybean (Glycine soja Sieb. and Zucc.) is a valuable resource for crop improvement efforts. Soybean is believed to have originated from China, Korea, and Japan, but little is known about the diversity or evolution of Korean wild soybean. Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the genetic diversity and population structure of 733 G. soja accessions collected in Korea using 21 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The SSR loci produced 539 alleles (25.7 per locus) with a mean genetic diversity of 0.882 in these accessions. Rare alleles, those with a frequency of less than 5%, represented 75% of the total number. This collection was divided into two populations based on the principal coordinate analysis. Accessions from population 1 were distributed throughout the country, whereas most of the accessions from population 2 were distributed on the western side of the Taebaek and Sobaek mountains. The Korean G. soja collection evaluated in this study should provide useful background information for allele mining approach and breeding programmes to introgress alleles into the cultivated soybean (G. max (L). Merr.) from wild soybean.
Nanoparticles of ∼55 nm in diameter have been found to significantly increase the fracture toughness of nanocomposites with a ductile polymer matrix. This paper presents a comparative study of the effectiveness of micrometer-sized and nanosized elastomeric particles in improving the fracture toughness and strength of polymeric adhesives. Particular focuses are on the effects of particle size, matrix ductility, and adhesive thickness on the shear strength and fracture toughness. The results reveal that for an epoxy adhesive cured with a J400 hardener, nanosized particles can produce nearly 18 times more increase in fracture toughness than what can be achieved using micrometer-sized particles at the same volume fraction of 5.0 vol%. This huge improvement of adhesives' fracture toughness by nanosized particles is similar to that observed in bulk nanocomposites, indicating that the superior toughening mechanism of nanosized elastomeric particles is equally effective in thin adhesives constrained by stiff adherends.
The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of chitosan (CS)-Zn on intestinal morphology, mucosal epithelial cell apoptosis and mucosal immune function in weanling pigs. A total of 150 weanling barrows with a body weight of 7·2 kg were randomly allocated into five groups. A basal diet without Zn supplementation was used as the control and other four groups were fed the control diet supplemented with 50 or 100 mg/kg of Zn as CS-Zn, 100 mg/kg of Zn as ZnSO4 and 3000 mg/kg of Zn as ZnO, respectively. The feeding trial lasted for 28 d. The results showed that serum diamine oxidase activities, d-lactate levels and endotoxin contents were lower in pigs fed dietary 100 mg/kg of Zn as CS-Zn or 3000 mg/kg of Zn as ZnO than in pigs fed the control or 100 mg Zn/kg as ZnSO4 diet. The ratios of the villus height:crypt depth of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum were higher in pigs that received 100 mg/kg of Zn as CS-Zn or a high level of Zn as ZnO than in pigs fed the control diet. Moreover, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-biotin nick end labelling (TUNEL)-stained ileal epithelial cells were found in the control group, and apoptotic cells did not appear prominently in pigs that received the 100 mg/kg of CS-Zn or ZnO diet. Secretory IgA concentration in ileal mucus was increased in the dietary group that received 100 mg/kg of CS-Zn or ZnO. These results indicated that dietary 100 mg CS-Zn/kg had similar biological effects to dietary 3000 mg ZnO/kg on intestinal morphology, mucosal epithelial cell apoptosis and mucosal immune function.
The role of diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) has become increasingly important in the preoperative mapping of brain white matter. Recently, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) driven DTT has provided the ability to evaluate the spatial relationship between the corticospinal tract (CST) and motor resection tumor boundaries. The main objective of this study was improvement of the preoperative assessment of the CST in patients with gliomas involving the motor cortical areas.
Seventeen patients with gliomas involving motor cortical areas underwent 3 dimensions (3D) T1-weighted imaging for anatomical referencing, using both fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We used the fast-marching tractography (FMT) algorithm to define the 3D connectivity maps within the whole brain using seed points selected in the white matter adjacent to the location of fMRI activation. The target region of interest (ROI) was placed in the cerebral peduncle. Karnofsky performance status (KPS) scores were evaluated for each patient before and after surgery.
The CST of a total seventeen patients were successfully tracked by choosing seed and target ROI on the path of the fibers. What is more, DTT can indicate preoperatively the possibility for total glioma removal or the maximum extent of surgical resection. The postoperative average KPS score for the seventeen patients enrolled increased by more than 10 points.
Incorporation of fMRI driven DTT showed a maximum benefit in surgical treatment of gliomas. Our study of the assessment precision should enhance the accuracy of glioma operations with a resulting improvement in postoperative patient outcome.
To date, there has been little improvement in cryopreservation of bull sperm due to lack of understanding of the freezing mechanisms. Therefore, this study set out to investigate expression levels of fertility-associated proteins in bull sperm, and in particular the relationship between the 90 kDa heat-shock protein (HSP90) and the sperm characteristics after freezing–thawing. Semen was collected from eight Holstein bulls by artificial vagina. Characteristics of these fresh semen, including sperm motility, morphology, viability and concentration, were evaluated. Sperm quality was also assessed after freezing–thawing. Eight ejaculates were divided into two groups based on freezing resistance and sperm motility. Sperm proteins were extracted and sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis and western blotting were performed. SDS-PAGE results showed that there was substantial diversity in 90 kDa proteins in the frozen–thawed sperm and HSP90 was confirmed as one of the 90 kDa proteins by western blot. This study indicated that HSP90 expression correlated positively with sperm quality. The amount of expressed 90 kDa proteins in the high freezing resistance (HFR) group was significantly higher than that in the low freezing resistance (LFR) group (P < 0.05). Thus, higher expression of HSP90 could probably lead to the higher motility and freezing resistance of sperm found after freezing–thawing. Therefore, we concluded that level of HSP90 expression could be used to predict reliably and simply the freezing resistance of bull sperm.
The presence of glutamine (Gln) in in vitro maturation (IVM) and in vitro culture (IVC) medium is a more potent factor for improving porcine oocyte and embryo development than other amino acids. However Gln is inherently unstable and spontaneously breaks down into ammonia, and therefore interferes with proper development. To avoid this adverse effect, Gln was replaced in the present study with its stable dipeptide derivative alanyl-glutamine (Ala-Gln) and the effects of this replacement on porcine IVM and IVC were evaluated. Replacement of Gln with Ala-Gln during IVM did not improve nuclear maturation, however numbers of early cleaved embryos were significantly increased after activation. Blastocyst formation rates were also significantly improved by using Ala-Gln during IVM. Replacement of Gln with Ala-Gln during IVC significantly increased total cell numbers in blastocysts. Blastocyst formation rate was also significantly higher when Ala-Gln was used in both IVM and IVC. In conclusion, the use of Ala-Gln rather than Gln gives better results for development in both porcine IVM and IVC.
Energetic electron beam generation from a thin foil target by the ponderomotive force of an ultra-intense circularly polarized laser pulse is investigated. Two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations show that laser pulses with intensity of 1022–1023 Wcm−2 generate about 1–10 GeV electron beams, in agreement with the prediction of one-dimensional theory. When the laser intensity is at 1024–1025 Wcm−2, the beam energy obtained from PIC simulations is lower than the values predicted by the theory. The radiation damping effect is considered, which is found to become important for the laser intensity higher than 1025 Wcm−2. The effect of laser focus positions is also discussed.
The oocyte is known from recent studies in the mouse, cow, sheep and human to be a central regulator of follicular cell function. However, in the pig, little information is known about the regulation of cumulus expansion by oocyte-secreted factors and oocyte quality. We investigated the possible effects of oocyte-secreted factors during in vitro maturation on cumulus expansion and on porcine oocytes as judged by subsequent embryonic development after parthenogenetic activation. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COC) from antral follicles of pig ovaries collected from a local abattoir were divided into control and treatment groups and were cultured in tissue culture medium 199 supplemented with follicle-stimulating hormone. Treatment groups consisted of increasing numbers of denuded oocytes (DO) co-cultured with COC (at ratios of COC to DO of 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5). After incubation for 44 h, cumulus expansion and maturation rates were assessed and oocytes were activated parthenogenetically. Cumulus expansion in the 1 COC:4 DO and 1 COC:5 DO groups was low and altered because full dispersion of the outer layer did not occur. Cell viability was not affected, as measured by the automated cell counter, but scanning electron microscopy revealed only a scanty extracellular matrix. Blastocyst rate was significantly higher in the 1 COC:4 DO (34.4%) and in the 1 COC:5 DO (34.9%) groups (p < 0.05) when compared with other groups. Maturation rate, cleavage rate and total cell number showed no significant difference between control and treatment groups. Amplification by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed up-regulation of growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) in the cumulus cells in the 1 COC:4 DO group at 44 h. We conclude that denuded porcine oocytes could improve the maturation of COC as evidenced by increased blastocyst development in the 1 COC:4 DO, even though cumulus expansion was poor. This improvement could be a result of the GDF9 up-regulation.
In non-human primates, it is difficult to collect sufficient numbers of oocytes for producing identical embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Because of this factor, inter-species SCNT (iSCNT) using heterospecific oocytes is an attractive alternative approach. The objective of this study was to produce iSCNT-derived blastocysts using enucleated cow (Bos taurus) metaphase II oocytes and adult rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) fibroblasts. Ear skin tissue from a 6-year-old male rhesus monkey was collected by biopsy and fibroblasts were isolated. Immature cumulus–oocyte complexes from cow ovaries were collected and matured in vitro in Medium 199. The enucleated oocytes were reconstructed with rhesus monkey fibroblasts and iSCNT embryos were cultured in modified synthetic oviduct fluid in an atmosphere of 5–5.5% CO2 under various conditions (37–39 °C and 5–20% O2) to examine the effects of in vitro culture conditions. Most embryos were arrested at the 8- or 16-cell stage and only three blastocysts were derived in this way using iSCNT from a total of 1153 cultured activated embryos (0.26% production rate). Two of the three blastocysts were used for counting nuclear numbers using bisbenzimide staining, which were 51 and 24. The other iSCNT-derived blastocyst was used to analyse mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) by PCR, and both rhesus monkey and cow mtDNA were detected. Although the development rate was extremely low, this study established that iSCNT using two phylogenetically distant species, including a primate, could produce blastocysts. With improvements in the development rate, it may be possible to produce rhesus monkey iSCNT-derived embryonic stem cell lines for studies on primate nucleus and cow mitochondria interaction mechanisms.
Oxidation of an aluminum nanocluster (252,158 atoms) of radius 100Å placed in gaseous oxygen (530,727 atoms) is investigated by performing molecular-dynamics simulations on parallel computers. The simulation takes into account the effect of charge transfer between Al and 0 based on the electronegativity equalization principles. We find that the oxidation starts at the surface of the cluster and the oxide layer grows to a thickness of ∼28Å. Evolutions of local temperature and densities of Al and 0 are investigated. The surface oxide melts because of the high temperature resulting from the release of energy associated with Al-O bondings. Amorphous surface-oxides are obtained by quenching the cluster. Vibrational density-of-states for the surface oxide is analyzed through comparisons with those for crystalline Al, Al nanocluster, and α-Al2O3
Treatment with 6-dimethylaminopurine (6-DMAP) or demecolcine (DE) for several (at least 2) hours after artificial activation is known to improve in vitro development of porcine embryos. However, several reports have also shown that treatments with these chemicals induce apoptosis. The aim of this study was to find out whether short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE combined with electrical or thimerosal/dithiothreitol (Thi/DTT) activation had a beneficial effect on development of parthenogenetically activated porcine oocytes. We additionally treated embryos with 6-DMAP (2 mM) and/or DE (0.4 μg/ml) for a short time (40 min) after an electrical pulse (EP) or Thi/DTT. As a result, short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE successfully induced development of electrically or Thi/DTT-activated porcine parthenogenetic embryos with no significant difference in cleavage rate, blastocyst formation rate and total cell number compared with long-term treatment. To find optimal activation protocol, cleavage rate, blastocyst formation rate and total cell number were compared between EP and Thi/DTT treatments. Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE showed significantly higher blastocyst formation rate (36.1 ± 3.5%) and total cell number (46.9 ± 1.0) than other groups (EP + 6-DMAP + DE, EP + Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE: 23.3 ± 3.0%, 42.2 ± 1.1 and 17.2 ± 2.7%, 36.7 ± 1.5, respectively). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE is as effective as the standard long-term treatment and Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE exerts a synergistic effect.