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Treatment of liver fibrosis is very limited as there is currently no effective anti-fibrotic therapy. Spirulina platensis (SP) is a blue-green alga that is widely supplemented in healthy foods. The objective of this study was to determine whether SP supplementation can prevent obesity-induced liver fibrosis in vivo. Male C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned to a low-fat or a high-fat (HF)/high-sucrose/high-cholesterol diet or an HF diet supplemented with 2·5 % SP (w/w) (HF/SP) for 16 or 20 weeks. There were no significant differences in body weight, activity, energy expenditure, serum lipids or glucose tolerance between mice on HF and HF/SP diets. However, plasma alanine aminotransferase level was significantly reduced by SP at 16 weeks. Expression of fibrotic markers and trichrome stains showed no differences between HF and HF/SP. Splenocytes isolated from HF/SP fed mice had lower inflammatory gene expression and cytokine secretion compared with splenocytes from HF-fed mice. SP supplementation did not attenuate HF-induced liver fibrosis. However, the expression and secretion of inflammatory genes in splenocytes were significantly reduced by SP supplementation, demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effects of SP in vivo. Although SP did not show appreciable effect on the prevention of liver fibrosis in this mouse model, it may be beneficial for other inflammatory conditions.
Clonorchis sinensis (C. sinensis), a trematode parasite that invades the hypoxic hepatobiliary tract of vertebrate hosts requires a considerable amount of oxygen for its sexual reproduction and energy metabolism. However, little is known regarding the molecular mechanism of C. sinensis involved in the adaptation to the hypoxic environments. In this study, we investigated the molecular structures and induction patterns of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and other basic helix–loop–helix and Per–Arnt–Sim (bHLH–PAS) domain-containing proteins such as HIF-1β, single-minded protein and aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which might prompt adaptive response to hypoxia, in C. sinensis. These proteins possessed various bHLH–PAS family-specific domains. Expression of C. sinensis HIF-1α (CsHIF-1α) was highly induced in worms which were either exposed to a hypoxic condition or co-incubated with human cholangiocytes. In addition to oxygen, nitric oxide and nitrite affected the CsHIF-1α expression depending on the surrounding oxygen concentration. Treatment using a prolyl hydroxylase-domain protein inhibitor under 20%-oxygen condition resulted in an increase in the CsHIF-1α level. Conversely, the other bHLH–PAS genes were less responsive to these exogenous stimuli. We suggest that nitrite and nitric oxide, as well as oxygen, coordinately involve in the regulation of HIF-1α expression to adapt to the hypoxic host environments in C. sinensis.
Identification of bouldery landforms in mountains and correctly understanding their formative processes play an important role in reconstructing the geomorphic history of a region. We propose that blocks were liberated by frost cracking and wedging of cliff walls during the last glacial period. However, we further suggest and test four hypotheses comprising different scenarios for preconditioning by chemical weathering and subsequent block transport using terrain analysis, characterization of boulders, and 10Be exposure dating. Frost shattering from the backing cliff produced the boulders since the beginning of the last glacial period (~80 ka), and gelifluction transported them downslope throughout the last glacial period. Their activity then entered a dormant phase at the beginning of the Holocene. Distribution patterns of exposure ages of tors and block streams are similar to those of previous studies, implying that bouldery landscapes in the southern Korean Peninsula were likely to be formed by similar processes under periglacial conditions. The timing of active periods in transport of block streams corresponds well with the cold periods identified in regional and global climate proxy records. Interestingly, the activity of block streams in the study area reached a maximum during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 3 to 2 when the growth rate of nearby speleothems was lowest.
Tyrosinase provides an essential activity during egg production in diverse platyhelminths by mediating sclerotization of eggshells. In this study, we investigated the genomic and evolutionary features of tyrosinases in parasitic platyhelminths whose genomic information is available. A pair of paralogous tyrosinases was detected in most trematodes, whereas they were lost in cyclophyllidean cestodes. A pseudophyllidean cestode displaying egg biology similar to that of trematodes possessed an orthologous gene. Interestingly, one of the paralogous tyrosinases appeared to have been multiplied into three copies in Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini. In addition, a fifth tyrosinase gene that was minimally transcribed through all developmental stages was further detected in these opisthorchiid genomes. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that the tyrosinase gene has undergone duplication at least three times in platyhelminths. The additional opisthorchiid gene arose from the first duplication. A paralogous copy generated from these gene duplications, except for the last one, seemed to be lost in the major neodermatans lineages. In C. sinensis, tyrosinase gene expressions were initiated following sexual maturation and the levels were significantly enhanced by the presence of O2 and bile. Taken together, our data suggest that tyrosinase has evolved lineage-specifically across platyhelminths related to its copy number and induction mechanism.
The HoDoo English game was developed to take advantage of the benefits attributed to on-line games while teaching English to native Korean speakers. We expected to see that the improvements in the subjects’ English language abilities after playing the HoDoo English game would be associated with increased brain functional connectivity in the areas of the brain involved in the language production (Broca’s area) and the understanding (Wernicke’s area) networks. Twelve children, aged nine and ten, were asked to play the on-line English education game for 50 minutes per day, five days per week for twelve weeks. At baseline, and again at the end of twelve weeks of game play, each child’s English language ability was assessed and a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan was conducted. The on-line English education game play effectively improved English language skills, especially in terms of non-verbal pragmatic skills. Following twelve weeks of on-line English education game play, the children showed positive connectivity between Broca’s area and the left frontal cortex as well as between Wernicke’s area and the left parahippocampal gyrus and the right medial frontal gyrus. Changes in pragmatic scores were positively correlated with average peak brain activity in the left parahippocampal gyrus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report an improvement in English ability and changes in brain activity within language areas after on-line language education game play.
Cyclophyllidean cestodes including Echinococcus granulosus have a smaller genome and show characteristics such as loss of the gut, a segmented body plan, and accelerated growth rate in hosts compared with other tissue-invading helminths. In an effort to address the molecular mechanism relevant to genome shrinkage, the evolutionary status of long-terminal-repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, which are known as the most potent genomic modulators, was investigated in the E. granulosus draft genome. A majority of the E. granulosus LTR retrotransposons were classified into a novel characteristic clade, named Saci-2, of the Ty3/gypsy family, while the remaining elements belonged to the CsRn1 clade of identical family. Their nucleotide sequences were heavily corrupted by frequent base substitutions and segmental losses. The ceased mobile activity of the major retrotransposons and the following intrinsic DNA loss in their inactive progenies might have contributed to decrease in genome size. Apart from the degenerate copies, a gag gene originating from a CsRn1-like element exhibited substantial evidences suggesting its domestication including a preserved coding profile and transcriptional activity, the presence of syntenic orthologues in cestodes, and selective pressure acting on the gene. To my knowledge, the endogenized gag gene is reported for the first time in invertebrates, though its biological function remains elusive.
In this study, we design a differential CMOS power amplifier using a 180-nm SOI RFCMOS process for 802.11n (64-QAM, 20 MHz bandwidth, 9.6 dB peak to average power ratio (PAPR)) applications. To minimize the chip area and mismatch in differential signals, we propose a layout method with an inter-stage matching network using a split inductor. By virtue of the symmetrical layout of the proposed split inductor, the mismatch in the differential signals is minimized, while the interconnection lines between the driver and power stages are shortened to minimize the overall chip area and the loss induced by the resistive parasitic components. The designed power amplifier is measured using a wireless local area network (WLAN) 802.11n signal to verify the feasibility of the proposed layout technique. The power amplifier achieved 20.34 dBm output power, while the measured EVM for the 802.11n applications is satisfied. From the measured results, we successfully prove the feasibility of the proposed power amplifier.
Because it is inevitable to lose some information in the process of one dimensional luminosity profile extraction, we developed a two dimensional luminosity decomposition method in order to examine the structure of galaxy such as bulge, bar and spiral arms.
Background: Decision makers in middle-income countries are using economic evaluations (EEs) in pricing and reimbursement decisions for pharmaceuticals. However, whilst many of these jurisdictions have local submission guidelines and local expertise, the studies themselves often use economic models developed elsewhere and elements of data from countries other than the jurisdiction concerned. The objectives of this study were to describe the current situation and to assess the challenges faced by decision makers in transferring data and analyses from other jurisdictions.
Methods: Experienced health service researchers in each region conducted an interview survey of representatives of decision making bodies from jurisdictions in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America that had at least 1 year's experience of using EEs.
Results: Representatives of the relevant organizations in twelve countries were interviewed. All twelve jurisdictions had developed official guidelines for the conduct of EEs. All but one of the organizations evaluated studies submitted to them, but 9 also conducted studies and 7 commissioned them. Nine of the organizations stated that, in evaluating EEs submitted to them, they had consulted a study performed in a different jurisdiction. Data on relevant treatment effect was generally considered more transferable than those on prices/unit costs. Views on the transferability of epidemiological data, data on resource use and health state preference values were more mixed. Eight of the respondents stated that analyses submitted to them had used models developed in other jurisdictions. Four of the organizations had a policy requiring models to be adapted to reflect local circumstances. The main obstacles to transferring EEs were the different patterns of care or wealth of the developed countries from which most economic evaluations originate.
Conclusions: In middle-income countries it is commonplace to deal with the issue of transferring analyses or data from other jurisdictions. Decision makers in these countries face several challenges, mainly due to differences in current standard of care, practice patterns, or gross domestic product between the developed countries where the majority of the studies are conducted and their own jurisdiction
Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) successfully completed the development of Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet, Park et al. 2012) in mid-2015, following which it conducted test runs for several months. ‘DEep Ecliptic Patrol of the Southern sky’ (DEEP-South, Moon et al. 2015), which will be used for asteroid and comet studies, will not only characterize targeted asteroids, carrying out blind surveys toward the sweet spots, but will also mine the data of such bodies using the KMTNet archive. We report preliminary lightcurves of four Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) from test runs at KMTNet-CTIO in the February - May 2015 period.
We started ‘DEep Ecliptic Patrol of the Southern sky’ (DEEP-South, DS) (Moon et al. 2015) in late 2012, and conducted test runs with the first Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet) (Park et al. 2012), a 1.6 m telescope with 18k x 18k CCD stationed at CTIO in early 2015. While the primary objective of DEEP-South is the physical characterization of small Solar System bodies, it is also expected to discover a large number of such bodies, many of them previously unknown. An automated observation scheduling, data reduction and analysis software subsystem called ‘DEEP-South Scheduling and Data reduction System’ (DS SDS) is thus being designed and implemented to enable observation planning, data reduction and analysis with minimal human intervention.
Korea Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTNet) which consists of three identical 1.6 m wide-field telescopes with 18k × 18k CCDs, is the first optical survey system of its kind. The combination of fast optics and the mosaic CCD delivers seeing limited images over a 4 square degrees field of view. The main science goal of KMTNet is the discovery and characterization of exoplanets, yet it also offers various other science applications including DEep Ecliptic Patrol of SOUTHern sky (DEEP-South). The aim of DEEP-South is to discover and characterize asteroids and comets, including Near Earth Objects (NEOs). We started test runs last February after commissioning, and will return to normal operations in October 2015. A summary of early results from the test runs will be presented.
Despite recent reports regarding the biology of cytosine methylation in Schistosoma mansoni, the impact of the regulatory machinery remains unclear in diverse platyhelminthes. This ambiguity is reinforced by discoveries of DNA methyltransferase 2 (DNMT2)-only organisms and the substrate specificity of DNMT2 preferential to RNA molecules. Here, we characterized a novel DNA methyltransferase, named CsDNMT2, in a liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis. The protein exhibited structural properties conserved in other members of the DNMT2 family. The native and recombinant CsDNMT2 exhibited considerable enzymatic activity on DNA. The spatiotemporal expression of CsDNMT2 mirrored that of 5-methylcytosine (5 mC), both of which were elevated in the C. sinensis eggs. However, CsDNMT2 and 5 mC were marginally detected in other histological regions of C. sinensis adults including ovaries and seminal receptacle. The methylation site seemed not related to genomic loci occupied by progenies of an active long-terminal-repeat retrotransposon. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that C. sinensis has preserved the functional DNA methylation machinery and that DNMT2 acts as a genuine alternative to DNMT1/DNMT3 to methylate DNA in the DNMT2-only organism. The epigenetic regulation would target functional genes primarily involved in the formation and/or maturation of eggs, rather than retrotransposons.
Comprehensive intermetallic compound phase analysis at wire bond interfaces was performed for a side-by-side comparative study between 18 µm Pd-only coated Cu wire and 18 µm Pd-coated Cu wire followed by Au flash coating. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy results combined with nanobeam electron diffraction and structure factor calculation identified the formation of metastable θ′-CuAl2 and Cu9Al4 in both of the wire bonds before and after high temperature storage test. In particular, nanobeam electron diffraction and structure factor calculation unambiguously revealed that the two intermetallic compound phases grow in size after high storage temperature test in a manner that they maintain their epitaxial relationships that minimize lattice mismatch at the Cu/Al wire bond interface. Nanobeam electron diffraction and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy results found no significant Au flash coating effects in terms of intermetallic compound morphology, phase, and thermal evolution.
This study aimed to assess the prevalence, incidence, and persistence of suicidal ideation (SI), and to investigate the psychosocial factors associated with these.
A total of 1,204 community dwelling elderly adults aged 65 years or older were evaluated at baseline, 909 (75%) of whom were followed two years later. The presence of SI was identified using the questions from the community version of the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) diagnostic schedule (GMS B3) at both baseline and follow-up interviews. Baseline measures included demographic status, years of education, rural/urban residence, accommodation, past and current occupation, monthly income, marital status, stressful life events, social support deficits, number of physical illnesses, severity of pain, physical activity, disability, depressive symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, cognitive function, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
Baseline SI prevalence, follow-up incidence (SI rate at follow-up of 805 elderly subjects who did not have SI at baseline), and persistence (SI rate at follow-up of 104 elderly subjects who had SI at baseline) were 11.5%, 9.6%, and 36.5%, respectively. Baseline SI was independently associated with no current employment, lower monthly income, stressful life events, more severe pain, presence of disability, depressive symptoms, and smoking. Incident SI was independently predicted by baseline unmarried status, social support deficit, severe pain, presence of depressive symptoms, and smoking. Persistent SI was independently predicted by baseline stressful life events and depressive symptoms.
Depressive symptoms were independently associated with prevalent, incident, and persistent SI, but other predictors varied according to incidence and persistence outcomes.
The effects of polymer substrates on the interfacial structure and the thermal stability of Ga-doped ZnO (GZO) thin films were investigated. The GZO thin films were deposited on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrates by rf-magnetron sputtering at room temperature, and thermal stability tests of the GZO thin films on the polymer substrates were performed at 150°C up to 8 h in air. Electrical and structural characterizations of the GZO thin films on the PET and the PEN substrates were carried out, and the origins of the stable interfacial structure and the improved thermal stability of the GZO thin film on the PEN substrate were discussed.
We present a multi-proxy record (pollen, microscopic charcoal, magnetic susceptibility, carbon-isotopic composition, total organic carbon [TOC], carbon/nitrogen [C/N] ratios, and particle size) of the late Holocene environmental change and human activities from Bongpo marsh on the east coast of Korea. Mutual interaction between the environment and humans during the late Holocene has not been properly investigated in Korea due to the lack of undisturbed samples with high sedimentation rates. In this study, the history of human responses to late Holocene environmental changes is clearly reconstructed using a multi-proxy paleoenvironmental approach that has not previously been applied in Korea. The evidence from Bongpo marsh indicates that 1) Bongpo marsh began to develop ca. 650 BC as a coastal lagoon was rapidly filled with organic matter, 2) agricultural disturbance around the study site remained slight until ca. AD 600, 3) full-scale intensive agriculture prevailed and the area of deforestation increased between ca. AD 600 and ca. AD 1870, and 4) the land use changed from lowland rice agriculture to upland cultivation when agricultural productivity declined after AD 1870, probably due to severe deforestation and the consequent heavy influx of clastic sediment on rice fields, as described in various historical documents.
Novel fluorine-doped zinc tin oxide (ZTO:F) thin-film transistors (TFTs) have been fabricated using an aqueous solution process. Exploiting hydrolysis and condensation reactions in an aqueous solution process, organic-free ZTO:F thin films were fabricated at a low temperature of 250 °C. The fabricated TFT device shows a field-effect mobility of 2.85 cm2/V s, on-to-off current ratios exceeding 107, and sub-threshold swings of 0.83 V/dec. The ZTO:F TFT also displays high operational stability of ΔVth = 1.73 V despite incorporation of a large amount of fluorine and use of a low-temperature annealing process. This is attributed to effective passivation of oxygen vacancy diffusion by metal fluoride bonds at the ZTO:F channel/gate dielectric interface.
The Class II 6.7-GHz methanol maser is a tracer of high mass young stellar objects. We present results of a 44-GHz class I methanol maser and 22-GHz water maser survey using the KVN (Korean VLBI Network) 21-m single dish radio telescopes towards 284 6.7-GHz maser sites. Class I methanol maser and water maser emission is detected towards 116 (41%) and 136 (48%) sources, respectively. About 50 sources have a peak flux density higher than 10 Jy at 44-GHz. They are candidates for VLBI studies using the KVN.
We have carried out simultaneous 22 GHz H2O and 44 GHz Class I CH3OH maser line surveys of more than 1500 intermediate- and high-mass YSOs in the Galaxy using newly-constructed KVN 21-m telescopes. As the central (proto)stars evolve, the detection rates of the two masers rapidly decrease for intermediate-mass YSOs while the rates increase for high-mass YSOs. These results suggest that the occurrence of the two masers is closely related both to the evolutionary stage of the central objects and to the circumstellar environments. CH3OH masers always have very similar velocities (<10 km s−1) to the natal dense cores, whereas H2O masers often have significantly different velocities. The isotropic luminosities of both masers are well correlated with the bolometric luminosities of the central (proto)stars.