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Recently there has been a considerable rise in the frequency of metabolic diseases, such as obesity, due to changes in lifestyle and resultant imbalances between energy intake and expenditure. Whey proteins are considered as potentially important components of a dietary solution to the obesity problem. However, the roles of individual whey proteins in energy balance remain poorly understood. This study investigated the effects of a high-fat diet (HFD) containing α-lactalbumin (LAB), a specific whey protein, or the non-whey protein casein (CAS), on energy balance, nutrient transporters expression and enteric microbial populations. C57BL/6J mice (n 8) were given an HFD containing either 20 % CAS or LAB as protein sources or a low-fat diet containing CAS for 10 weeks. HFD-LAB-fed mice showed a significant increase in cumulative energy intake (P=0·043), without differences in body weight, energy expenditure, locomotor activity, RER or subcutaneous and epididymal white adipose tissue weight. HFD-LAB intake led to a decrease in the expression of glut2 in the ileum (P=0·05) and in the fatty acid transporter cd36 (P<0·001) in both ileum and jejunum. This suggests a reduction in absorption efficiency within the small intestine in the HFD-LAB group. DNA from faecal samples was used for 16S rRNA-based assessment of intestinal microbiota populations; the genera Lactobacillus, Parabacteroides and Bifidobacterium were present in significantly higher proportions in the HFD-LAB group. These data indicate a possible functional relationship between gut microbiota, intestinal nutrient transporters and energy balance, with no impact on weight gain.
The main goal of this work consisted in cloning, purifying and characterizing a protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C) from promastigotes of Leishmania major. The gene was cloned and amplified by PCR using specific oligonucleotides and the recombinant protein was purified by affinity chromatography. The peak with maximal protein concentration was analysed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and revealed a protein of 44·9 kDa with PP2C activity. This activity was dependent on divalent cations (Mg+2 and Mn+2) and was optimal at pH of 8·5, using phosphothreonine as the substrate. Sanguinarine inhibited the activity of the recombinant LmPP2C, while protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors had no effect. The recombinant LmPP2C was used to generate polyclonal antibodies. These antibodies recognized a protein of 44·9 kDa in different Leishmania species; the LmPP2C was localized in the flagellar pocket and the flagellum of promastigotes.
The University of Georgia (USA) is partnering with the University of Padova (Italy) for a dual Master’s degree program in sustainable agriculture, promoting collaboration on some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today. This innovative program which was launched during 2016 provides students with outstanding training and a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges, opportunities, and leading edges of precision agriculture on another continent – an experience which will serve graduates well when they enter the job market in an increasingly global economy. This paper presents the goals of the program, the curriculum, and describes the opportunities available to prospective students. In addition it describes the process of developing the dual degree which can be used as guide by others wishing to develop similar programs.
Cognitive deficits are present from the onset of psychosis and are considered a core feature of the disorder. Increasing evidence suggests that cognitive function is associated with inflammatory processes. This study evaluated the association between cognition and inflammatory biomarkers in first-episode psychosis (FEP), in order to identify cognitive phenotypes from inflammatory expression profiles.
A case-control study of 92 FEP patients and 80 matched controls was used. Neurocognitive assessment, including verbal ability, sustained attention, verbal memory, working memory and executive function, was performed. The expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators of the main intracellular inflammatory pathway was measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma.
FEP patients performed worse in all cognitive domains compared to controls and had higher expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and lower expression of anti-inflammatory mediators. In the FEP group, cognition and psychopathology were associated with inflammation. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that association between the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin 15d-PGJ2 and sustained attention on one hand, and COX-2 expression and executive function on the other, were statistically significant.
Our study provides evidence for an association between anti-inflammatory biomarkers and cognition in FEP. The identification of a subgroup of patients based on these measures could be useful to guide treatment programmes by providing tools to select a personalized treatment approach, but longitudinal studies are needed before. In the future, establishment of biomarkers linked to cognition would be useful to monitor the course of cognitive impairment, but substantially more data will be required. Determination of IκBα, the inhibitory protein of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NFκB, could be useful in early phases to assess clinical severity.
Boiling is the most common method of household water treatment in developing countries; however, it is not always effectively practised. We conducted a randomized controlled trial among 210 households to assess the effectiveness of water pasteurization and safe-storage interventions in reducing Escherichia coli contamination of household drinking water in a water-boiling population in rural Peru. Households were randomized to receive either a safe-storage container or a safe-storage container plus water pasteurization indicator or to a control group. During a 13-week follow-up period, households that received a safe-storage container and water pasteurization indicator did not have a significantly different prevalence of stored drinking-water contamination relative to the control group [prevalence ratio (PR) 1·18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·92–1·52]. Similarly, receipt of a safe-storage container alone had no effect on prevalence of contamination (PR 1·02, 95% CI 0·79–1·31). Although use of water pasteurization indicators and locally available storage containers did not increase the safety of household drinking water in this study, future research could illuminate factors that facilitate the effective use of these interventions to improve water quality and reduce the risk of waterborne disease in populations that boil drinking water.
Understanding the biological parameters of some triatomine subspecies of Meccus phyllosomus (Burmeister) is a crucial first step in estimating the epidemiological importance of this group. Biological parameters related to egg eclosion, egg-to-adult development time, number of blood meals to moult, percentage of females at the end of the cycle, number of laid eggs, and the accumulative mortality for each instar of three M. phyllosomus subspecies [Meccus phyllosomus pallidipennis (Stål), Meccus phyllosomus longipennis (Usinger), and Meccus phyllosomus picturatus (Usinger)] as well as their laboratory hybrids were evaluated and compared. No significant differences (P > 0.05) were recorded among the experimental hybrids (M. p. longipennis × M. p. pallidipennis, M. p. longipennis × M. p. picturatus, M. p. pallidipennis × M. p. picturatus) and reciprocal cohorts. In five of the six studied parameters (egg eclosion, egg-to-adult development time, number of blood meals to moult, number of laid eggs and accumulative mortality), with the exception of the non-significant percentage of females obtained among all the studied cohorts, at least one of the parental cohorts in each set of crosses exhibited better fitness results than by those of their hybrid descendants. The lack of hybrid fitness in our study indicates the maintenance of reproductive isolation of parental genotypes. Moreover, the results lead us to propose that an incipient speciation process by distance is currently developing among the three studied subspecies, increasing the differences between them that modify the transmission efficiency of Trypanosoma cruzi to human beings in Mexico.
Breast milk constitutes one of the most important sources of postnatal microbes. However, the influence of perinatal factors on the milk microbiome is still poorly understood. The aim of our study was to assess the impact of mode of delivery on the microbiome composition and diversity present in breast milk of healthy mothers. Mature milk samples (n=10) were taken from mothers after 1 month of exclusively breastfeeding. Microbiomes from milk samples were analyzed with 16S ribosomal RNA gene pyrosequencing and targeted quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Despite inter-individual variability in bacterial composition, The Principal Coordinates Analysis clearly separated milk microbiome from mothers with vaginal delivery (n=6) from those who undergo C-section (n=4). In addition, higher bacterial diversity and richness was found in milk samples from vaginal deliveries. Quantitative PCR data showed that higher levels of Bifidobacterium spp. were related significantly to lower levels of Staphylococcus spp. Despite the low sample size, our data suggest that mode of delivery has an important impact on milk microbiome composition. Further studies with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm these results and to understand the biological effects of C-section associated microbes on infant’s health.
Solar irradiance and precipitation are the most likely drivers of the seasonal variation of net primary productivity (NPP) in tropical forests. Since their roles remain poorly understood, we use litter traps, dendrometer bands and census data collected from one hectare permanent plots to quantify the seasonality of above-ground NPP components and weather parameters in 13 sites distributed along a 2800-m altitudinal gradient ranging from lowland Amazonia to the high Andes. We combine canopy leaf area index and litterfall data to describe the seasonality of canopy production. We hypothesize that solar irradiance is the primary driver of canopy phenology in wetter sites, whereas precipitation drives phenology in drier systems. The seasonal rhythm of canopy NPP components is in synchrony with solar irradiance at all altitudes. Leaf litterfall peaks in the late dry season, both in lowland (averaging 0.54 ± 0.08 Mg C ha y−1, n = 5) and montane forests (averaging 0.29 ± 0.04 Mg C ha y−1, n = 8). Peaks in above-ground coarse woody NPP appears to be triggered by the onset of rainfall in seasonal lowland rain forests (averaging 0.26 ± 0.04 Mg C ha y−1, n = 5, in November), but not in montane cloud forests.
A computational algorithm has been developed to simulate the transport properties of oriented and un-oriented thin film nanocomposites of isotactic Polypropylene (iPP) and carbon nanotubes (CNT) with increasing CNT concentration. Our goal is to be able to design materials with optimal properties using these simulations. We use a cellular automata approach in a Matlab 3-D array environment. The percolation threshold is reproduced in the simulations, matching experimental data. Upon percolation, the thermal transport in the films increases sharply, due to the large difference in the thermal conductivities of the CNTs and the polymer. To verify the simulation, the thin-film samples were sheared in the melt at 200C at 1 Hz in a Linkan microscope shearing hot stage. The thermal conductivity measurements were performed on the same cell arrangement with the transport perpendicular to the thin-film plane using a DC method. The thermal conductivity is higher for the un-sheared as compared to the sheared samples. Our cellular automata simulations provide information about the microstructuremacroscopic property relation in the thin film nanocomposites and can be extended to simulations of other important materials.
The main goal of the current work was to develop and validate an in vitro fluke egg hatch test, as a method for the detection of albendazole (ABZ) resistance in the liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica. Fluke eggs (200/ml, n= 5) from six different isolates were used in the current experimental work. They were obtained from different geographical locations and named Cullompton (UK), CEDIVE (Chascomus, Argentina), INTA-Bariloche (Bariloche, Argentina), Rubino (Uruguay), Cajamarca (Perú) and Río Chico (Catamarca, Argentina). The fluke eggs were incubated (25°C) for a 12-h period in the presence of either ABZ or its sulphoxide metabolite (ABZ.SO) (5, 0.5 or 0.05 nmol/ml). Untreated eggs were incubated as a control. Incubated eggs (with or without drug present) were kept in darkness at 25°C for 15 days. Afterwards, the trematode eggs were exposed to daylight over a 2-h period. Hatched and unhatched eggs were evaluated using an optical microscope, and the ovicidal activity was assessed for each fluke isolate. A very low ovicidal activity ( ≤ 13.4%) was observed in the ABZ-resistant CEDIVE isolate for both ABZ and ABZ.SO. Conversely, in the INTA-Bariloche and Río Chico isolates, which are suspected to be susceptible to ABZ, ovicidal activities ≥ 70.3% were observed after incubation with ABZ at the lowest concentration tested (0.05 nmol/ml). This finding correlates with that previously described for the ABZ-susceptible Cullompton. Finally, the Cajamarca and Rubino isolates behaved as ABZ resistant, since no ovicidal activity was observed after eggs were incubated with ABZ at 0.5 nmol/ml. Considering the specific results obtained for each isolate under assessment, the egg hatch test described here may be a suitable method for detection of ABZ resistance in F. hepatica.
A general chemistry experiment has been adapted in which electrochemical principles in fuel cells are applied to the curriculum, thus bringing research into the classroom. It is well documented that students struggle in understanding redox reactions, in particular when applied to an electrochemical cell. There are three basic concepts needed to analyze these energy devices: anode, cathode and electrolyte.
In the proposed experiment, undergraduate students explored the role on an electrolyte in an electrochemical cell. Inquiry based methods were used to introduce the experiment. Explanations of fundamental electrochemical concepts involved in fuel cells were introduced to the students with pre- and post-laboratory activities and experimental results discussions. The lesson for the experiment “role of an electrolyte in an electrochemical cell” was planned to improve students’ technological skills and application of knowledge acquired in daily life. The battery was made using household materials: zinc, copper and napkin paper soaked in different electrolyte solutions. Students correlated the voltage of the cells with the substances being used in the experiment and classified these as strong electrolyte, weak electrolyte or non electrolyte. A variety of assessment tools were designed and incorporated during the experience to probe students understanding in the main topics and to identify the struggles during their learning process.
Platinum/Cerium oxide-based catalysts for methanol electro oxidation were prepared by the occlusion deposition technique. Composite glassy carbon (GC) electrodes were modified and then tested towards the methanol electro oxidation half reaction in acid and alkaline medium. Cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry techniques were used to test the catalytic response of the composite electrodes. AFM studies were carried out in order to have a measurement of the particle size and distribution of the platinum/ceria catalyst on HOPG.
Advances in nanotechnology observe new applications in many areas. Recently a great extent of research has been focused on the study of magnetic nanoparticles due to their potential application in areas such as bioscience and medicine. Magnetic nanoparticles are frequently used in biomedical and biotechnology applications since these particles associated to a given medicine are good candidates for drug release.
In this work zeta potential measurements of both hexagonal barium ferrites (magnetic nanoparticles), and an antibiotic known as tetracycline were carried out. The knowledge of the measured values establishes the possibility of bringing the two particles together in order to adsorb the tetracycline on the magnetic nanoparticles, since the surface charge play an essential role in the adsorption of the pharmaceutical drug on nanomaterials (i.e., tetracycline on barium ferrites).
Experimental results show the feasibility to adsorb tetracycline nanoparticles on barium hexaferrite solids at pH 7.0, based on the knowledge of the opposite electrical surface charge of the two solid species through the zeta potential measurement.
A reactive molecular dynamics simulation study on the structure, energetics, and chemistry of alkanethiolated gold cluster is presented. Through very recent reactive molecular dynamics force-fields developed by Järvi et al. , chemical reactions of alkanedithiolates and star-like shape gold nanoparticles are studied throughout octanedithiolates and stellated cuboctahedral gold clusters models  at room temperature. Structure, energetics, reactants, and some products of the reactions are preliminarily analyzed up to 25 ps. In general, preliminary results of this work are in agreement with those reported in the review by Love et al. .
The design and construction of an instrumentation for NOX degradation in a dielectric-barrier discharge reactor (DBDR) is presented. This is endowed with a parallel plane electrode glass-glass (GG) circular geometry configuration. A solid-state multi-cellular power supply was produced in order to generate the plasma discharge. The power supply is based on a full-bridge voltage inverter commanded by three 4.33 kHz square-wave signals. Thus, the output converter signal is filtered by a resonant LC circuit, providing a 13 kHz sine wave to the DBDR. Initial results showing high removal efficiencies of about 97% have been obtained by means of this instrumentation.
A dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) has been successfully applied to studying, both theoretically and experimentally, phenol degradation in waste water aqueous solutions. A coaxial reactor was selected where the liquid waste constitutes a part of the internal electrode itself, the liquid solution flowing up inside the hollow internal electrode impelled by a submersible pump. Thus, the solution falls by gravity on the external surface of the internal electrode. The DBD gas flows in parallel to the surface of the liquid. The cold plasma was generated from Ar-O2 mixture and O2 pure with the inclusion of moisture from the same solution. Two power supplies were compared delivering potentials up to 23 kV at 1.5 kHz, and up to 12 kV at 15.6 kHz respectively. The initial concentration of phenol was around 5 × 10−3 mol/L and efficiencies up to 99% were obtained after 1 h of treatment. Finally, a simplified kinetics model was developed where the temporal evolution of the compounds generated in the phenol degradation process was analyzed. Hydroquinone, catechol and resorcinol were obtained as byproducts and H2O, CO2 and some light carboxylic acids as final products.