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The aim of this study was to investigate the combined effect of n-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA, at an EPA:DHA ratio of 150:500) and phytosterol esters (PS) on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients. We conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ninety-six NAFLD subjects were randomly assigned to the following groups: the PS group (receiving 3·3 g/d PS); the FO group (receiving 450 mg EPA + 1500 mg DHA/d); the PS + FO combination group (receiving 3·3 g/d PS and 450 mg EPA + 1500 mg DHA/d) and the PO group (a placebo group). The baseline clinical characteristics of the four groups were similar. The primary outcome was liver:spleen attenuation ratio (L:S ratio). The percentage increase in liver–spleen attenuation (≤1) in the PS + FO group was 36 % (P = 0·083), higher than those in the other three groups (PS group, 11 %, P = 0·519; FO group, 18 %, P = 0·071; PO group, 15 %, P = 0·436). Compared with baseline, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) was significantly decreased in the three study groups at the end of the trial (PS, P = 0·000; FO, P = 0·002; PS + FO, P = 0·001) and TNF-α was significantly decreased in the FO group (P = 0·036), PS + FO group (P = 0·005) and PO group (P = 0·032) at the end of the intervention. Notably, TGF-β was reduced significantly more in the PS + FO group than in the PO group (P = 0·032). The TAG and total cholesterol levels of the PS + FO group were reduced by 11·57 and 9·55 %, respectively. In conclusion, co-supplementation of PS and EPA + DHA could increase the effectiveness of treatment for hepatic steatosis.
Immiscible displacement in porous media is common in many practical applications. Under quasi-static conditions, the process is significantly affected by disorder of the porous media and the wettability of the pore surface. Previous studies have focused on wettability effects, but the impact of the interplay between disorder and contact angle is not well understood. Here, we combine microfluidic experiments and pore-scale simulations with theoretical analysis to study the impact of disorder on the quasi-static displacement from weak imbibition to strong drainage. We define the probability of overlap to link the menisci advancements to displacement patterns, and derive a theoretical model to describe the lower and upper bounds of the cross-over zone between compact displacement and capillary fingering for porous media with arbitrary flow geometry at a given disorder. The phase diagram predicted by the theoretical model shows that the cross-over zone, in terms of contact angle range, expands as the disorder increases. The diagram further identifies four zones to elucidate that the impact of disorder depends on wettability. In zone I, increasing disorder destabilizes the patterns, and in zone II, a stabilizing effect plays a role, which is less significant than that in zone I. In the other two zones, invasion morphologies are compact and fingering, respectively, independent of both contact angle and disorder. We evaluate the proposed diagram using pore-scale simulations, experiments in this work and in the literature, confirming that the diagram can capture the effect of disorder on displacement under different wetting conditions. Our work extends the classical phase diagrams and is also of practical significance for engineering applications.
'Missing wedge' problem exists in some kind of CT imaging situations, such as electron microscopy, x-ray nano-CT image, etc. Method such as iterative reconstruction algorithms, total variation based method were applied to improve the reconstruction quality, but the 'missing wedge' artifacts are still inevitable. In this paper, a method based on image processing technique was proposed to locate the 'missing wedge' artifacts in CT reconstruction. The result showed good performance on locating the artifacts, which also showed the potential in CT reconstruction and image analysis in nano-CT.
Familial monozygotic (MZ) twinning reports are rare around the world, and we report a four-generation pedigree with seven recorded pairs of female MZ twins. Whole-genome sequencing of seven family members was performed to explore the featured genetic factors in MZ twins. For variations specific to MZ twins, five novel variants were observed in the X chromosome. These candidates were used to explain the seemingly X-linked dominant inheritance pattern, and only one variant was exonic, located at the 5′UTR region of ZCCHC12 (chrX: 117958597, G > A). Besides, consistent mitochondrial DNA composition in the maternal linage precluded roles of mitochondria for this trait. In this pedigree, autosomes also contain diverse variations specific to MZ twins. Pathway analysis revealed a significant enrichment of genes carrying novel SNVs in the epithelial adherens junction-signaling pathway (p = .011), contributed by FGFR1, TUBB6, and MYH7B. Meanwhile, TBC1D22A, TRIOBP, and TUBB6, also carrying similar SNVs, were involved in the GTPase family-mediated signal pathway. Furthermore, gene-set enrichment analysis for 533 genes covered by copy number variations specific to MZ twins illustrated that the tight junction-signaling pathway was significantly enriched (p < .001). Therefore, the novel changes in the X chromosome and the provided candidate variants across autosomes may be responsible for MZ twinning, giving clues to increase our understanding about the underlying mechanism.
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.
Fracture analysis is performed on a cylindrical composite consisting of an outer elastic layer, an inner rigid cylinder and an intermediate sliding interface. Interaction between the sliding interface and a parallel crack under in-plane shear is explored. An interesting phenomenon of oscillatory normal stress occurs on the local interfacial region near to the crack. It leads to local sliding-prevention and promotion effects, which constitute the mechanisms for the variations of stress intensity factors versus interfacial parameters. In addition, another interesting conclusion is that a crack near and parallel to a sliding interface never has the conventional anti-symmetry, even under pure in-plane shear loading.
Vortex rings have been a subject of interest in vortex dynamics due to a plethora of physical phenomena revealed by their motions and interactions within a boundary. The present paper is devoted to physics of a head-on collision of two vortex rings in three dimensional space, simulated with a second order finite volume scheme and compressible. The scheme combines non-iterative approximate Riemann-solver and piecewise-parabolic reconstruction used in inviscid flux evaluation procedure. The computational results of vortex ring collisions capture several distinctive phenomena. In the early stages of the simulation, the rings propagate under their own self-induced motion. As the rings approach each other, their radii increase, followed by stretching and merging during the collision. Later, the two rings have merged into a single doughnut-shaped structure. This structure continues to extend in the radial direction, leaving a web of particles around the centers. At a later time, the formation of ringlets propagate radially away from the center of collision, and then the effects of instability involved leads to a reconnection in which small-scale ringlets are generated. In addition, it is shown that the scheme captures several experimentally observed features of the ring collisions, including a turbulent breakdown into small-scale structures and the generation of small-scale radially propagating vortex rings, due to the modification of the vorticity distribution, as a result of the entrainment of background vorticity and helicity by the vortex core, and their subsequent interaction.
Associations of folic acid supplementation with risk of preterm birth (PTB) and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) birth were unclear for the Chinese populations. The aim of the present study was to investigate the associations in a large Chinese prospective cohort study: the Jiaxing Birth Cohort. In the Jiaxing Birth Cohort, 240 954 pregnant women visited local clinics or hospitals within their first trimester in Southeast China during 1999–2012. Information on anthropometric parameters, folic acid supplementation and other maternal characteristics were collected by in-person interviews during their first visit. Pregnancy outcomes were recorded during the follow-up of these participants. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the association of folic acid supplementation with pregnancy outcomes. The prevalence of folic acid supplementation was 24·9 % in the cohort. The prevalence of PTB and SGA birth was 3·48 and 9·2 %, respectively. Pre-conceptional folic acid supplementation was associated with 8 % lower risk of PTB (relative risk (RR) 0·92; 95 % CI 0·85, 1·00; P=0·04) and 19 % lower risk of SGA birth (RR 0·81; 95 % CI 0·70, 0·95; P=0·008), compared with non-users. Higher frequency of pre-conceptional folic acid use was associated with lower risk of PTB (Ptrend=0·032) and SGA birth (Ptrend=0·046). No significant association between post-conceptional initiation of folic acid supplementation and either outcome was observed. In conclusion, the present study suggests an association between pre-conceptional, but not post-conceptional, folic acid supplementation and lower risk of PTB and SGA birth in the Jiaxing Birth Cohort. Further research in other cohorts of large sample size is needed to replicate these findings.
The Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus is endemic to China and is Critically Endangered, largely because of overexploitation for food. This species is an expensive delicacy in China, and a rapidly growing industry to farm the species has developed throughout much of the country, centred on the Qinling Mountain region of Shaanxi Province. During a 2010 workshop on Chinese giant salamander conservation, which involved a range of stakeholders from across China, it became clear that the conservation community knew little about the salamander farming industry and whether it posed actual or potential threats or opportunities for conservation of the Chinese giant salamander. We therefore conducted a series of investigations to understand the industry better. Our results indicate that although farming of Chinese giant salamanders has the potential to be a positive development for conservation by supplying market demand with farmed animals, it is currently more likely to threaten than support conservation of the species, with continued overexploitation and the potential added impacts of infectious disease and genetic pollution arising from farming practices such as movement of animals across the country and the release of untreated farm wastewater and farmed salamanders to the wild.
Autonomous docking is a focus of research in the field of self-assembly robots. Navigation is a significant stage in the process of autonomous docking between two robotic modules; it determines the efficiency of docking and even the success and failure of the docking task. In most cases, it is too difficult to simultaneously satisfy both linear and angular displacement constraints in a single dynamic numerical computation process. In the present paper, the navigation process is divided into two stages: first, the angular displacement constraint is satisfied, and then the linear displacement condition is fulfilled. In this way, the constraints are loosened and the difficulty of numerical computation is thereby effectively reduced. This two-stage docking navigation model is the main contribution of the present work. By taking the non-holonomic nature of the navigation behavior into consideration, both kinematic and dynamic analyses are performed, and the voltage data of the DC motors required by the two-stage docking navigation are obtained. Finally, docking navigation experiments are completed on a self-assembly modular robot named Sambot. It is verified that the present two-stage strategy is effective in controlling the docking navigation process.
The mutualism between fig trees and their wasp pollinators is a model system for many ecological and evolutionary studies. However, the immature stages of pollinating fig wasps have rarely been studied. We monitored developing fig wasps of known ages and performed a series of dissections at 24 h intervals to identify key developmental traits of Ceratosolen solmsi marchali Mayr (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae), a pollinator of Ficus hispida L. (Moraceae). We identified where in the Ficus ovary eggs were deposited and time to hatch. We were also able to identify the timing and key underlying characters of five larval instars, three sub-pupal stages, and a single prepupal stage. We provide detailed morphological descriptions for the key stages and report some behavioral observations of the wasps in the several developmental stages we recorded. Scanning electron microscope images were taken.
Laser surface melting is one of the most important processes in laser material processing. Selective vaporization of alloying elements in laser melting offers fundamental understanding of laser processing on metallic alloys. This work provides linkage between laser melting and material properties using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) for tiny vaporized species in laser-generated plume and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) for solid solution range in molten pool, both qualitatively and quantitatively (up to hundreds of micron). Silicon wafer was used to collect the generated plume. Chemical analysis was carried out on top surface and sub-surface of the deposited plume. Transport behavior as well as distribution of the vaporized species inside the plume was further proposed.
Mexican sunflower is a native species of North and Central America that was introduced into China early last century, but it has widely naturalized and become a harmful invasive plant in tropical and subtropical regions in South China. Inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers were employed to assess genetic diversity and variation in Mexican sunflower populations from China and neighboring regions. The karyotypes of populations were also studied. Our research showed high levels of genetic diversity in all populations. The lowest genetic diversity estimates were represented in two populations in Laos, suggesting prevention of new introductions into Laos is critical. Partitioning of genetic variance revealed that genetic variation was mostly found within populations, and unweighted pair group method with arithmetic means (UPGMA) analysis showed that the introductions into China and Laos were independent. There were no obvious correlations between genetic relationships and geographic distance of populations in China, consistent with the human associated dispersal history of Mexican sunflower. Previous cytological data and our chromosome count (2n = 34) and karyotype analysis showed chromosome stability among populations. The high levels of genetic diversity within invasive Mexican sunflower populations could be challenging for its management in China, and further expansion and potential negative effects on ecological systems of this plant should be monitored.
Various metal fluoride crystals were subjected to electron beam irradiation at 200 and 300 kV using transmission electron microscopy in order to study in-situ fabrication of 3D metal nanostructures. Lithium fluoride, cobalt fluoride and aluminum fluoride salt fragments were chemically reduced and transformed by the electron beam to the corresponding metals. Using live video recording we observe that LiF crystals decompose in a unique way different to all other metal-halides. Li diffuses rapidly out of the salt crystal and covers its surface and the surrounding C-support film to many microns distance, where at random positions nucleation, growth and annihilation of Li nanorods and some nanospheres is observable. Decomposition of CoF2 also involves non-local synthesis of Co nanoparticles, mostly facetted, however, these are stable, without annihiliation, and their positioning seems to follow some degree of self-organisation. AlF3 transforms locally to Al grains inside the irradiated area only, and grain growth occurs to sizes proportional to the beam intensity. Findings are discussed in terms of displacement energy differences between the materials.
Phosphorylcholine glyceraldehyde (PCGA) was used as a phosphorylcholine (PC) group containing compound to graft onto the surface of polycarbonateurethane (PCU) film using 1,6-hexanediamine (HDA) or α,ω-diamino-poly(ethylene glycol) (APEG, Mn = 200) as a spacer, in order to introduce biomimetic structure onto the polymer surface. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis shows that PCGA has been covalently linked to the PCU surface. Water contact angle test suggests that the surface hydrophilicity has been improved after PCGA is grafted onto the surface of PCU film. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) observation of the modified PCU films after contacting with plasma-rich plasma demonstrates that platelets rarely adhere but a large number of platelets adhere to the original PCU surface. The hemocompatibility of the PC modified PCU film has been improved obviously after grafting with PCGA with PEG spacer.
Penetration of a nanochannel mask by 190keV Co+ ions is tested for the purpose of achieving laterally modulated ion implantation into a SiO2 thin film on a Si substrate. A 2D-nanoporous membrane of anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) is chosen as the mask. Criteria and challenges for designing the mask are presented. Implantation experiments through a mask with pore diameter of 125 nm and inter-pore distance of 260 nm are carried out. Cross-sectional TEM (XTEM) is shown as an ideal tool to assess depth distribution and lateral distribution of implanted ions at the same time, complemented by Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy. Using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy linescans, a Co distribution with lateral modulation is found at 120 nm below the oxide surface. First experiments in converting the atomic distribution of Co to discrete nanoparticles by in-situ TEM annealing are presented.
Piezoelectric nanoactuators, which can provide extremely stable and reproducible positioning, are rapidly becoming the dominant means for position control in transmission electron microscopy. Here we present a second-generation miniature goniometric nanomanipulation system, which is fully piezo-actuated with ultrafine step size for translation and rotation, programmable, and can be fitted inside a hollowed standard specimen holder for a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The movement range of this miniaturized drive is composed of seven degrees of freedom: three fine translational movements (X, Y, and Z axes), three coarse translational movements along all three axes, and one rotational movement around the X-axis with an integrated angular sensor providing absolute rotation feedback. The new piezoelectric system independently operates as a goniometer inside the TEM goniometer. In situ experiments, such as tomographic tilt without missing wedge and differential tilt between two specimens, are demonstrated.
To finite-difference model elastic wave propagation in a combined structure with solid, fluid and porous subregions, a set of modified Biot’s equations are used, which can be reduced to the governing equations in solids, fluids as well as fluid-saturated porous media. Based on the modified Biot’s equations, the field quantities are finite-difference discretized into unified forms in the whole structure, including those on any interface between the solid, fluid and porous subregions. For the discrete equations on interfaces, however, the harmonic mean of shear modulus and the arithmetic mean of the other parameters on both sides of the interfaces are used. These parameter averaging equations are validated by deriving from the continuity conditions on the interfaces. As an example of using the parameter averaging technique, a 2-D finite-difference scheme with a velocity-stress staggered grid in cylindrical coordinates is implemented to simulate the acoustic logs in porous formations. The finite-difference simulations of the acoustic logging in a homogeneous formation agree well with those obtained by the analytical method. The acoustic logs with mud cakes clinging to the borehole well are simulated for investigating the effect of mud cake on the acoustic logs. The acoustic logs with a varying radius borehole embedded in a horizontally stratified formation are also simulated by using the proposed finite-difference scheme.