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In recent years, soft robotics is widely considered as the most promising field for both research and application. First of all, the actuator is fundamental for designing, modeling, and controlling of soft robots. This paper presents a new type of pneumatic trunk-like soft actuator, which contains a chamber for stiffness adjustment in addition to three chambers for driving. Thus, the salient feature of the proposed actuator is the ability of stiffness self-regulation. The structure of the proposed actuator is described in detail. Then the theoretical models for elongation and bending motion of the actuator are established. The elongation as well as single-chamber and multi-chamber driving bending of the actuator were tested to verify the mathematical models. Finally, a dual-segment soft robot based on the proposed trunk-like soft actuator was developed and tested by experiments, which implies its potential application in practice.
Existing data on folate status and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) prognosis are scarce. We prospectively examined whether serum folate concentrations at diagnosis were associated with liver cancer-specific survival (LCSS) and overall survival (OS) among 982 patients with newly diagnosed, previously untreated HCC, who were enrolled in the Guangdong Liver Cancer Cohort (GLCC) study between September 2013 and February 2017. Serum folate concentrations were measured using chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay. Cox proportional hazards models were performed to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % CI by sex-specific quartile of serum folate. Compared with patients in the third quartile of serum folate, patients in the lowest quartile had significantly inferior LCSS (HR = 1·48; 95 % CI 1·05, 2·09) and OS (HR = 1·43; 95 % CI 1·03, 1·99) after adjustment for non-clinical and clinical prognostic factors. The associations were not significantly modified by sex, age at diagnosis, alcohol drinking status and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage. However, there were statistically significant interactions on both multiplicative and additive scale between serum folate and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels or smoking status and the associations of lower serum folate with worse LCSS and OS were only evident among patients with CRP > 3·0 mg/l or current smokers. An inverse association with LCSS were also observed among patients with liver damage score ≥3. These results suggest that lower serum folate concentrations at diagnosis are independently associated with worse HCC survival, most prominently among patients with systemic inflammation and current smokers. A future trial of folate supplementation seems to be promising in HCC patients with lower folate status.
Swelling deformation tests of Kunigel bentonite and its sand mixtures were performed in distilled water and NaCl solution. The salinity of NaCl solution has a significant impact on the swelling properties of bentonite, but not on its surface structure. The surface structure was characterized using the fractal dimension Ds. Based on the fractal dimension, a unique curve of the em–pe relationship (em is the void ratio of montmorillonite and pe is the effective stress) at full saturation was introduced to express the swelling deformation of bentonite–sand mixtures. In mixtures with a large bentonite content, the swelling deformation always followed the em–pe relationship. In mixtures with a small bentonite content, when the effective stress reached a threshold, the void ratio of montmorillonite em deviated from the unique em–pe curve due to the appearance of a sand skeleton. The threshold of vertical pressure for mixtures in different solutions and the maximum swelling strains were estimated using the em–pe relationship. The good agreement between estimates and experimental data suggest that the em–pe relationship might be an alternative method for predicting the swelling deformation of bentonite–sand mixtures in salt solution.
Toxigenic Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) carriers represent an important source in the transmission of C. difficile infection (CDI) during hospitalisation, but its prevalence and mode in patients with hepatic cirrhosis are not well established. We investigated longitudinal changes in carriage rates and strain types of toxigenic C. difficile from admission to discharge among hepatic cirrhosis patients. Toxigenic C. difficile was detected in 104 (19.8%) of 526 hepatic cirrhosis patients on admission, and the carriage status changed in a portion of patients during hospitalisation. Approximately 56% (58/104) of patients lost the colonisation during their hospital stay. Among the remaining 48 patients who remained positive for toxigenic C. difficile, the numbers of patients who were positive at one, two, three and four isolations were 10 (55.6%), three (16.7%), two (11.1%) and three (16.7%), respectively. Twenty-eight patients retained a particular monophyletic strain at multiple isolations. The genotype most frequently identified was the same as that frequently identified in symptomatic CDI patients. A total of 25% (26/104) of patients were diagnosed with CDI during their hospital stay. Conclusions: Colonisation with toxigenic C. difficile strains occurs frequently in cirrhosis patients and is a risk factor for CDI.
Energy chirp compensation of the electron bunch (e-bunch) in a laser wakefield accelerator, which is caused by the phase space rotation in the gradient wakefield, has been applied in many schemes for low energy spread e-bunch generation. We report the experimental observation of energy chirp compensation of the e-bunch in a nonlinear laser wakefield accelerator with a negligible beam loading effect. By adjusting the acceleration length using a wedge-roof block, the chirp compensation of the accelerated e-bunch was observed via an electron spectrometer. Apart from this, some significant parameters for the compensation process, such as the longitudinal dispersion and wakefield slope at the bunch position, were also estimated. A detailed comparison between experiment and simulation shows good agreement of the wakefield and bunch parameters. These results give a clear demonstration of the longitudinal characteristics of the wakefield in a plasma and the bunch dynamics, which are important for better control of a compact laser wakefield accelerator.
Markley variables have advantages of slow variation, easy numerical integration and high precision in describing the attitude of spinning spacecraft. Previous attitude estimation methods based on Markley variables for spinning spacecraft usually employ a sun vector from the sun sensor, a magnetic vector from the magnetometer, or the angular rate from the gyro as the measurement. This paper proposes a Markley variables-based attitude estimation method using optical flow and a star vector from a star sensor as the measurement, where optical flow provides rate information and the star vector provides direction information. This method can estimate the direction of the spin axis and spin angular rate very well by using only one star sensor. In addition, the star sensor has higher accuracy than the traditional sun sensor and magnetometer, and the star sensor can also replace the gyro in case the gyro is out of action. The impact factors of this method are also analysed, which include spin angular rate, spin axis orientation and spacecraft moment of inertia tensor error.
This paper reports the design, analysis, and control of a miniature vibration-driven planar locomotion robot called Shell. A vibration-driven system is able to achieve locomotion based on internal oscillations and anisotropic friction forces. In this robot design, two parallel oscillators are employed to provide propelling forces, and a blade-like support is designed to generate anisotropic frictional contact with the ground. If the two parallel oscillators are of different frequencies and amplitudes, two-dimensional locomotion of the robot can be achieved. To predict the robot's planar locomotion, a dynamic model is developed. Controlling the robot's locomotion and especially, the locomotion modes can be achieved by adjusting the vibration frequencies of the two internal oscillators. Experimental results show that Shell can be controlled to move rectilinearly and along circles with certain curvatures. In addition, by combining these basic trajectories, Shell can move freely on a horizontal plane.
In this study, macro-rough flows over beds with different permeability values are simulated using the large-eddy simulation, and the results are analysed by applying the double-averaging (DA) methodology. Spheres of different sizes and arrangements were used to form the beds, which are deemed to be permeable granular beds. The influence of bed permeability on the turbulence dynamics and structure is investigated. It was observed that the scales of the spanwise vortical structures over more permeable beds are larger than those over less permeable beds. This is attributed to large-scale spanwise-alternate strips of varying Reynolds shear stress (RSS), emerging from the surface of macro-rough elements for the permeable beds. The DA stress balance suggests that the time-averaged spanwise vortical structure leads to a damping in DA RSS and an unusual peak of the form-induced stress in the main flow. In the streamwise direction, both large turbulent structures that originate from the Kelvin–Helmholtz-type instability and small turbulent structures that are associated with the turbulent transport across the gaps of the roughness elements are more prevalent over highly permeable beds. Near the bed, the relative magnitude of turbulent events shows a transition from a ejections-dominating to sweeps-dominating zone with vertical distance. Further, several hydrodynamic characteristics normalized by inner scales (kinematic viscosity to shear velocity ratio) show a greater dependency on permeability Reynolds number than those normalized by sediment size. The study provides an insight into the mechanism of mass transfer near the fluid–particle interface, which is vital to benthic and aquatic ecology.
A carbohydrate-rich diet results in hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia; it may further induce the carcinogenesis of colorectal cancer. However, epidemiological evidence among Chinese population is quite limited. The aim of this study was to investigate total carbohydrate, non-fibre carbohydrate, total fibre, starch, dietary glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) in relation to colorectal cancer risk in Chinese population. A case–control study was conducted from July 2010 to April 2017, recruiting 1944 eligible colorectal cancer cases and 2027 age (5-year interval) and sex frequency-matched controls. Dietary information was collected by using a validated FFQ. The OR and 95 % CI of colorectal cancer risk were assessed by multivariable logistic regression models. There was no clear association between total carbohydrate intake and colorectal cancer risk. The adjusted OR was 0·85 (95 % CI 0·70, 1·03, Ptrend=0·08) comparing the highest with the lowest quartile. Total fibre was related to a 53 % reduction in colorectal cancer risk (adjusted ORquartile 4 v. 1 0·47; 95 % CI 0·39, 0·58). However, dietary GI was positively associated with colorectal cancer risk, with an adjusted ORquartile 4 v. 1 of 3·10 (95 % CI 2·51, 3·85). No significant association was found between the intakes of non-fibre carbohydrate, starch and dietary GL and colorectal cancer risk. This study indicated that dietary GI was positively associated with colorectal cancer risk, but no evidence supported that total carbohydrate, non-fibre carbohydrate, starch or high dietary GL intake were related to an increased risk of colorectal cancer in a Chinese population.
In this study, we investigated a psychological mechanism underlying the corruption of government officials, based on cultural factors in China. The proposed psychological kidnapping model describes how some bribers set up relations (guanxi, 关系) with bribees to conceal the intention of bribery and gradually lead them into corruption. Through text analysis, classification, and encoding of corruption cases, we defined the term psychological kidnapping, as well as its fundamental characteristics and the corresponding interaction process model (study 1). Using qualitative analysis, we confirmed the three stages of the process of corruption (attraction and acceptance, trust and integration, and collusion or fracture). In a further step, we unveiled three characteristics of psychological kidnapping, known as concealed resource delivery, imbalanced perceptions of corruption risk and cost for government officials, and soft menace from bribers. Then we explored the essential role of renqing (人情) in study 2 as a key enabler of psychological kidnapping. We hope that this work can provide a theoretical base for the prevention of corruption in the public service sector in China.
Campylobacter is a major foodborne pathogen and is commonly present in food producing animals. This pathogenic organism is highly adaptable and has become increasingly resistant to various antibiotics. Recently, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have designated antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter as a serious threat to public health. For the past decade, multiple mechanisms conferring resistance to clinically important antibiotics have been described in Campylobacter, and new resistance mechanisms constantly emerge in the pathogen. Some of the recent examples include the erm(B) gene conferring macrolide resistance, the cfr(C) genes mediating resistance to florfenicol and other antimicrobials, and a functionally enhanced variant of the multidrug resistance efflux pump, CmeABC. The continued emergence of new resistance mechanisms illustrates the extraordinary adaptability of Campylobacter to antibiotic selection pressure and demonstrate the need for innovative strategies to control antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter. In this review, we will briefly summarize the trends of antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter and discuss the mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics used for animal production and important for clinical therapy in humans. A special emphasis will be given to the newly discovered antibiotic resistance.
This study aimed to investigate the effects of dietary live yeast (LY) supplementation on growth, intestinal permeability and immunological parameters of piglets challenged with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli K88 (ETEC). Piglets weaned at 21 d were allocated into three treatments with six pens and six piglets per pen, receiving the control diet (CON), diets supplemented with antibiotics plus zinc oxide (ANT–ZnO) and LY (Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain CNCM I-4407), respectively, for a period of 2 weeks. On day 8, thirty-six piglets were selected as control without ETEC (CON), CON–ETEC, ANT–ZnO–ETEC and LY–ETEC groups challenged with ETEC until day 10 for sample collections. Piglets fed ANT–ZnO diet had the highest average daily gain and average daily feed intake (P<0·05) during the 1st week, but ADG of piglets fed the ANT–ZnO diet was similar as piglets fed LY diet during the second week. Piglets with LY–ETEC or ANT–ZnO–ETEC had markedly lower diarrhoea score (P<0·05) than piglets with CON–ETEC during the 24 h after ETEC challenge. Relative to piglets with CON, the counts of E. coli, urinary ratio of lactulose to mannitol, plasma IL-6 concentration, mRNA abundances of innate immunity-related genes in ileum and mesenteric lymph node tissues were increased (P<0·05), whereas the villous height of jejunum and relative protein expression of ileum claudin-1 were decreased (P<0·05) in piglets with CON–ETEC; however, these parameters did not markedly change in piglets with LY–ETEC or ANT–ZnO–ETEC. In summary, dietary LY supplementation could alleviate the severity of diarrhoea in piglets with ETEC, which may be associated with the improved permeability, innate immunity and bacterial profile.
Population decline among Asian horseshoe crabs in Asia is increasingly reported, but knowledge of their population and ecological status in China is limited. We conducted community interviews in 30 fishing villages around Beibu Gulf in Guangxi, China, to collect distribution information about the potential spawning/nursery grounds of Tachypleus tridentatus and Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda, and any imminent threats to their populations. Based on the results from 400 respondents we identified 45 potential spawning/nursery grounds distributed widely along the shores of Beibu Gulf. We visited 10 of these sites and verified the presence of juvenile horseshoe crabs by field surveys. Nearly all respondents reported an overall depletion in horseshoe crab populations from these 45 sites, which they attributed mainly to unsustainable fishing practices. Respondents who reported having seen horseshoe crab mating pairs on shores were mostly older people, which may suggest a considerable reduction in horseshoe crabs coming to the shores to spawn in recent years. The mean daily harvest of adult T. tridentatus offshore, as indicated by fishers, has declined from c. 50–1,000 in the 1990s to 0–30 individuals during 2011–2016. Our Wisdom of Crowds approach, supported by confirmatory field surveys, is a cost-effective method for assessing the population status of horseshoe crabs, and the level of threat they face. Similar approaches with other species are likely to be particularly valuable in the Asia–Pacific region, where well-structured population monitoring is largely unaffordable.
To explore the effects of maternal nutrition on offspring muscle characteristics, a total of 56 sows were assigned to one of the four dietary groups during gestation: control (CON), or control diets supplemented with methyl donor (MET), bisphenol A (BPA), and combined BPA and MET (BPA+MET). Compared with CON offspring, MET offspring showed a higher meat redness value, but lower glycogen content in the longissimus thoracis (LT). Moreover, compared with CON offspring, MET offspring showed lower LT glycogen synthase (GS) mRNA levels at birth and the finishing stage, and increased methylation at the GS promoter. Prenatal BPA exposure reduced the pH and redness value of meat, but increased the lightness value, lactate content, glycolytic potential and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) enzyme activity in the LT muscle. Prenatal BPA exposure increased LDH mRNA levels in the LT muscle at birth and the finishing stage, and reduced methylation at the LDH promoter. Thus, maternal MET affects muscle GS and LDH expression via DNA methylation, thereby resulting in persistent effects on pork quality.
This research communication describes the profile of gene expression related to the synthesis of yak milk as determined via quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Significant up-regulation during lactation were observed in genes related to fatty acid (FA) uptake from blood (LPL, CD36), intracellular FA transport (FABP3), intracellular FA activation of long- and short-chain FAs (ACSS1, ACSS2, ACSL1), de novo synthesis (ACACA), desaturation (SCD), triacyglycerol (TAG) synthesis (AGPAT6, GPAM, LPIN1), lipid droplet formation (PLIN2, BTN1A1, XDH), ketone body utilisation (BDH1, OXCT1), and transcription regulation (THRSP, PPARGC1A). In particular, intracellular de novo FA synthesis (ACSS2, ACACA, and FABP3) and TAG synthesis (GPAM, AGPAT6, and LPIN1), whose regulation might be orchestrated as part of the gene network under the control of SERBF1 in the milk fat synthesis process, were more activated compared to levels in dairy cows. However, the genes involved in lipid droplet formation (PLIN2, XDH, and BTN1A1) were expressed at lower levels compared to those in dairy cows, where these genes are mainly controlled by the PPARG regulator.
Previous studies have supported the theory that there is a positive association between ferritin and carotid atherosclerosis in Western people. Diet plays an important role in determining serum ferritin concentration. Asian dietary patterns are different from Western dietary patterns, implying that there may be a difference in the association of ferritin with carotid atherosclerosis between Asian and Western people. However, few studies focus on the association between ferritin and carotid atherosclerosis among Asians. The aim of this study was to investigate how serum ferritin levels are associated with carotid atherosclerosis in an Asian adult population. A cross-sectional assessment was performed in 8302 adults in Tianjin, China. Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaques were assessed using ultrasonography, and serum ferritin was measured using the protein chip-chemiluminescence method. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between quartiles of serum ferritin concentration and carotid atherosclerosis. In the present study, the overall prevalence of IMT and carotid plaques in participants is 29·2 and 22·7 %, respectively. In women, after adjustments for potentially confounding factors, the OR of IMT and carotid plaques by increasing serum ferritin quartiles were 1·00, 1·39 (95 % CI 0·98–1·99), 1·39 (95 % CI 0·99–1·97), 1·81 (95 % CI 1·30–2·55) (Pfor trend<0·001) and 1·00, 1·24 (95 % CI 0·89–1·73), 1·18 (95 % CI 0·85–1·65), 1·59 (95 % CI 1·15–2·20) (Pfor trend<0·01), respectively. However, no association was found between serum ferritin and carotid atherosclerosis in men. The study demonstrated that increased serum ferritin levels are independently associated with IMT and carotid plaques in Asian women but not in Asian men.
A study in rodent models showed that phytosterols protected against colon carcinogenesis, probably by inhibiting dysregulated cell cycle progression and inducing cellular apoptosis. However, epidemiological studies on the relationship between phytosterols and colorectal cancer risk are quite limited. The aim of this study was to investigate dietary phytosterol intake in relation to colorectal cancer risk in the Chinese population. A case–control study was conducted from July 2010 to June 2016, recruiting 1802 eligible colorectal cancer cases plus 1813 age (5-year interval) and sex frequency-matched controls. Dietary information was collected by using a validated FFQ. The OR and 95 % CI of colorectal cancer risk were assessed by multivariable logistic regression models. A higher total intake of phytosterols was found to be associated with a 50 % reduction in colorectal cancer risk. After adjusting for various confounders, the OR of the highest quartile intake compared with the lowest quartile intake was 0·50 (95 % CI 0·41, 0·61, Ptrend<0·01) for total phytosterols. An inverse association was also found between the consumption of β-sitosterol, campesterol, campestanol and colorectal cancer risk. However, stigmasterol intake was related to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. No statistically significant association was found between β-sitostanol and colorectal cancer risk. Stratified analysis by sex showed that the positive association of stigmasterol intake with colorectal cancer risk was found only in women. These data indicated that the consumption of total phytosterols, β-sitosterol, campesterol and campestanol is inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk in a Chinese population.
Flavonoids may play an important role in the protective effects of vegetables, fruits and tea against colorectal cancer. However, associations between flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk are inconsistent, and a few studies have evaluated the effect of flavonoids from different dietary sources separately. This study aimed to evaluate associations of flavonoids intake from different dietary sources with colorectal cancer risk in a Chinese population. From July 2010 to December 2015, 1632 eligible colorectal cancer cases and 1632 frequency-matched controls (age and sex) completed in-person interviews. A validated FFQ was used to estimate dietary flavonoids intake. Multivariate logistical regression models were used to calculate the OR and 95 % CI of colorectal cancer risk after adjusting for various confounders. No significant association was found between total flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk, with an adjusted OR of 1·06 (95 % CI 0·85, 1·32) comparing the highest with the lowest quartile. Anthocyanidins, flavanones and flavones intakes from total diet were found to be inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Compared with the lowest quartile, the adjusted OR for the highest quartile were 0·80 (95 % CI 0·64, 1·00) for anthocyanidins, 0·28 (95 % CI 0·22, 0·36) for flavanones and 0·54 (95 % CI 0·43, 0·67) for flavones. All subclasses of flavonoids from vegetables and fruits were inversely associated with colorectal cancer. However, no significant association was found between tea flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk. These data indicate that specific flavonoids, specifically flavonoids from vegetables and fruits, may be linked with the reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
TiO2 nanofibers (TNFs) with different anatase/rutile phase ratios were fabricated using electrospinning technique followed by the annealing at different temperatures. The effect of annealing temperatures on their morphology, structural, and optical properties and photocatalytic activity was investigated. The photocatalytic performance of TNFs was evaluated by degradation of methyl orange (MO) in aqueous solution under the irradiation of simulated solar light. Annealing temperature significantly influenced photocatalytic degradation of MO due to the incorporation of rutile phase which suppresses recombination of photoactivated electron and hole pairs. Turnover frequency (TOF) of MO degradation was introduced to describe the intrinsic activity of TNFs. TNFs acquired best anatase/rutile phase ratio (A/R = 83/17) when annealed at 650 °C, resulting in highest TOF value 2394 h−1, two times higher as compared to P25 with similar anatase/rutile phase ratio (A/R = 85/15). Appropriate crystalline structure could be the reason for good photocatalytic activity as well as intrinsic activity of TNFs.