Articles from MDPI


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  • Niu, Shuanghong Jenny; Luo, Jiutong; Niemi, Hannele; Li, Xiaoqing; Lu, Yu (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    In Chinese schools in less advanced places, there is an urgent need to improve the quality of education and educational equity. This study aims to investigate how an AI-aided educational platform can be used to provide additional teaching and learning resources to serve this need. The AI-aided educational platform used in this study is called Smart-Learning Partner (SLP), which is based on AI technology to provide new opportunities for personalized learning and more educational resources. A qualitative research method was applied in this study. We interviewed and surveyed 98 students and 32 teachers at 9 Chinese schools located in less developed areas. We used content analysis to interpret the findings based on students’ and teachers’ experiences of using the SLP platform. The data demonstrated that this kind of AI-aided educational platform was viewed by students and teachers as a useful tool in students’ learning and teachers’ work. It provided additional possibilities to students and teachers with its rich assessment tools, personalized and overall student learning analysis reports, plentiful high-quality mini-lecture videos, and recommendations from the platform based on the students’ needs for further enhancement study. However, challenges still exist. Adequate electronic devices for students are needed, especially in schools in less developed areas. Students and teachers called for user-friendly interfaces and features, social interaction aspects, and gamification mechanisms with recent online learning platforms. We conclude that based on the teachers’ and students’ views, AI-aided education platforms are useful tools for supporting teaching and learning in Chinese school.
  • Kapp, Karmen; Sivén, Mia; Laurén, Patrick; Virtanen, Sonja; Katajavuori, Nina; Södervik, Ilona (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    An essential feature of pharmacy education is the teaching of theoretical knowledge with the support of practical work in the laboratory. When properly utilized, laboratory activities have the potential to enhance students’ achievement, conceptual understanding, and positive attitudes towards learning. In this pilot study, an augmented reality (AR) environment was designed and introduced for teaching laboratory skills in pharmacy education at the university level. The AR environment was used by pharmacy students (n = 36), featuring gate questions, information screens, Quick Response codes, think-aloud questions, and instant feedback. The environment was utilized with smart glasses and mobile devices with the aim of comparing the support to students’ performance. User experience was evaluated through self-efficacy beliefs and anxiety towards the technology. As a result, students found the environment a useful supplement to traditional laboratory teaching. Smart glasses and mobile devices were both accepted with great positivity but neither being clearly preferred over the other. Smart glasses were noted to provide sufficient feedback in the right stages of work. In contrast, mobile devices promoted the learning process more than the smart glasses. The self-efficacy results for mobile device use were higher, especially related to device handling and operating the AR environment. The pilot study gives educators valuable insights on the usability of AR technology in guiding laboratory tasks, although future work should involve larger and more diverse samples, as well as different learning tasks.
  • Savadova-Ratkus, Ksenija; Mazur-Marzec, Hanna; Karosienė, Jūratė; Sivonen, Kaarina; Suurnäkki, Suvi; Kasperovičienė, Jūratė; Paškauskas, Ričardas; Koreivienė, Judita (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Monodominant (one species dominates) or polidominant (multiple species dominate) cyanobacterial blooms are pronounced in productive freshwater ecosystems and pose a potential threat to the biota due to the synthesis of toxins. Seasonal changes in cyanobacteria species and cyanometabolites composition were studied in two shallow temperate eutrophic lakes. Data on cyanobacteria biomass and diversity of dominant species in the lakes were combined with chemical and molecular analyses of fifteen potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria species (248 isolates from the lakes). Anatoxin-a, saxitoxin, microcystins and other non-ribosomal peptides formed the diverse profiles in monodominant (Planktothrix agardhii) and polidominant (Aphanizomenon gracile, Limnothrix spp. and Planktolyngbya limnetica) lakes. However, the harmfulness of the blooms depended on the ability of the dominant species to synthesize cyanometabolites. It was confirmed that P. agardhii produced a greater amount and diverse range of MCs and other NRPs. In the polidominant lake, isolates of the co-dominant A. gracile, L. planctonica and P. limnetica synthesized no or only small amounts of cyanometabolites. In general, the profile of cyanometabolites was greater in cyanobacteria isolates than in environmental samples, indicating a high potential for toxic cyanobacteria bloom.
  • Pino, Alessandra; Vaccalluzzo, Amanda; Caggia, Cinzia; Balzaretti, Silvia; Vanella, Luca; Sorrenti, Valeria; Ronkainen, Aki; Satokari, Reetta; Randazzo, Cinzia Lucia (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Lactobacilli with probiotic properties have emerged as promising tools for both the prevention and treatment of vaginal dysbiosis. The present study aimed to study the in vitro probiotic potential of the Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus CA15 (DSM 33960) strain isolated from a healthy vaginal ecosystem. The strain was evaluated for both functional (antagonistic activity against pathogens; H2O2, organic acid, and lactic acid production; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities; ability to adhere to intestinal mucus and to both CaCo-2 and VK7/E6E7 cell lines; exopolysaccharide production; surface properties; and ability to survive during gastrointestinal transit) and safety (hemolytic, DNase, and gelatinase activities; mucin degradation ability; production of biogenic amines; and resistance to antimicrobials) characteristics. Data revealed that the tested strain was able to antagonize a broad spectrum of vaginal pathogens. In addition, the adhesion capacity to both vaginal and intestinal cell lines, as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, was detected. The ability of the Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus CA15 (DSM 33960) strain to survive under harsh environmental conditions occurring during the gastrointestinal passage suggests its possible oral delivery. Thus, in vitro data highlighted interesting probiotic properties of the CA15 (DSM 33960) strain, which could represent a valuable candidate for in vivo vaginal infections treatment.
  • Koistinen, Timo (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Contrary to the majority of contemporary analytic philosophers of religion, James Sterba argues in his book Is a Good God Logically Possible? (2019) that Alvin Plantinga with his famous free will defense has not succeeded in solving the logical problem of evil. However, Sterba is not alone in disputing this generally accepted view in analytic philosophy of religion. D. Z. Phillips (1934–2006) has argued that the logical problem of evil has not been solved and he further holds that it has not even got off the ground. The aim of this article is to explore Phillips’ criticism of the free-will defense and mainstream theodicies. His critique is relevant for Sterba’s atheistic stance because Phillips’ arguments are partly applicable to forms of philosophical atheism that share the same assumptions with philosophical theism. In the first part of the article, I will briefly describe the starting points of the best-known solutions to the problem of evil in analytic philosophy of religion and refer to some aspects of Sterba’s arguments. After that I will explore Phillips’ ethical and conceptual criticism against frameworks used in the discussion of theodicy. Finally, I will pay attention to Phillips’ Wittgensteinian view of the task and the aim of philosophy in order to clarify some problematic aspects of his thought.
  • Fredriksson-Ahomaa, Maria; Sauvala, Mikaela; Kurittu, Paula; Heljanko, Viivi; Heikinheimo, Annamari; Paulsen, Peter (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Listeria monocytogenes is an important foodborne zoonotic bacterium. It is a heterogeneous species that can be classified into lineages, serogroups, clonal complexes, and sequence types. Only scarce information exists on the properties of L. monocytogenes from game and game meat. We characterised 75 L. monocytogenes isolates from various game sources found in Finland between 2012 and 2020. The genetic diversity, presence of virulence and antimicrobial genes were studied with whole genome sequencing. Most (89%) of the isolates belonged to phylogenetic lineage (Lin) II and serogroup (SG) IIa. SGs IVb (8%) and IIb (3%) of Lin I were sporadically identified. In total, 18 clonal complexes and 21 sequence types (STs) were obtained. The most frequent STs were ST451 (21%), ST585 (12%) and ST37 (11%) found in different sample types between 2012 and 2020. We observed 10 clusters, formed by closely related isolates with 0–10 allelic differences. Most (79%) of the virulence genes were found in all of the L. monocytogenes isolates. Only fosX and lin were found out of 46 antimicrobial resistance genes. Our results demonstrate that potentially virulent and antimicrobial-sensitive L. monocytogenes isolates associated with human listeriosis are commonly found in hunted game and game meat in Finland.
  • Zhou, Dangwei; Mehmood, Furrukh; Lin, Pengcheng; Cheng, Tingfeng; Wang, Huan; Shi, Shenbo; Zhang, Jinkui; Meng, Jing; Zheng, Kun; Poczai, Péter (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Anisodus tanguticus Maxim. (Solanaceae), a traditional endangered Tibetan herb, is endemic to the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. Here, we report the de novo assembled chloroplast (cp) genome sequences of A. tanguticus (155,765 bp). The cp contains a pair of inverted repeated (IRa and IRb) regions of 25,881 bp that are separated by a large single copy (LSC) region (86,516 bp) and a small single copy SSC (17,487 bp) region. A total of 132 functional genes were annotated in the cp genome, including 87 protein-coding genes, 37 tRNA genes, and 8 rRNA genes. Moreover, 199 simple sequence repeats (SSR) and 65 repeat structures were detected. Comparative plastome analyses revealed a conserved gene order and high similarity of protein-coding sequences. The A. tanguticus cp genome exhibits contraction and expansion, which differs from Przewalskia tangutica and other related Solanaceae species. We identified 30 highly polymorphic regions, mostly belonging to intergenic spacer regions (IGS), which may be suitable for the development of robust and cost-effective markers for inferring the phylogeny of the genus Anisodus and family Solanaceae. Analysis of the Ka/Ks ratios of the Hyoscyameae tribe revealed significant positive selection exerted on the cemA, rpoC2, and clpP genes, which suggests that protein metabolism may be an important strategy for A. tanguticus and other species in Hyoscyameae in adapting to the adverse environment on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that A. tanguticus clustered closer with Hyoscyamus niger than P. tangutica. Our results provide reliable genetic information for future exploration of the taxonomy and phylogenetic evolution of the Hyoscyameae tribe and related species.
  • Salih, Enass Y. A.; Julkunen-Tiitto, Riitta; Luukkanen, Olavi; Fyhrqvist, Pia (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Various parts of Terminalia brownii (Fresen) are used in Sudanese traditional medicine against fungal infections. The present study aimed to verify these uses by investigating the anti-Candida activity and phytochemistry of T. brownii extracts. Established agar diffusion and microplate dilution methods were used for the antifungal screenings. HPLC-DAD and UHPLC/QTOF-MS were used for the chemical fingerprinting of extracts and for determination of molecular masses. Large inhibition zones and MIC values of 312 µg/mL were obtained with acetone, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of the leaves and acetone and methanol extracts of the roots. In addition, decoctions and macerations of the leaves and stem bark showed good activity. Sixty compounds were identified from a leaf ethyl acetate extract, showing good antifungal activity. Di-, tri- and tetra-gallotannins, chebulinic acid (eutannin) and ellagitannins, including an isomer of methyl-(S)-flavogallonate, terflavin B and corilagin, were detected in T. brownii leaves for the first time. In addition, genipin, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin, kaempferol-4’-sulfate, myricetin-3-rhamnoside and sericic acid were also characterized. Amongst the pure compounds present in T. brownii leaves, apigenin and β-sitosterol gave the strongest growth inhibitory effects. From this study, it was evident that the leaf extracts of T. brownii have considerable anti-Candida activity with MIC values ranging from 312 to 2500 µg/mL.
  • Ramakrishnan, Muthusamy; Satish, Lakkakula; Kalendar, Ruslan; Narayanan, Mathiyazhagan; Kandasamy, Sabariswaran; Sharma, Anket; Emamverdian, Abolghassem; Wei, Qiang; Zhou, Mingbing (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    The authors would like to make the following corrections to the original publication [...]
  • Boström, Anna; Asplund, Kjell; Bergh, Anna; Hyytiäinen, Heli (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Background: To explore the scientific evidence for therapeutic ultrasound (TU), we conducted a systematic review of the literature on TU in dogs, horses, donkeys, and cats. Methods: In three major databases, relevant articles published in 1980–2020 were identified. The risk of bias in each article was evaluated. Results: Twenty-four relevant articles on the effects of TU in dogs, nine in horses, two in donkeys, and one in cats were identified. TU usually involved 2–6 treatments weekly for up to 4 weeks. Articles on tendon, ligament, and bone healing, acute aseptic arthritis, osteoarthritis, paraparesis, hindquarter weakness, and back muscle pain were identified. In experimental bone lesions in dogs, there is moderate scientific evidence for enhanced healing. For the treatment of other musculoskeletal conditions, the scientific evidence is insufficient due to the high risk of bias. There is substantial evidence that continuous TU increases tissue temperature in muscles and tendons by up to 5 °C in healthy animals. For disorders in tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints in sport and companion animals, there is insufficient evidence for the clinical effects of TU.
  • Biancari, Fausto; Pettinari, Matteo; Mariscalco, Giovanni; Mustonen, Caius; Nappi, Francesco; Buech, Joscha; Hagl, Christian; Fiore, Antonio; Touma, Joseph; Dell’Aquila, Angelo M.; Wisniewski, Konrad; Rukosujew, Andreas; Perrotti, Andrea; Hervé, Amélie; Demal, Till; Conradi, Lenard; Pol, Marek; Kacer, Petr; Onorati, Francesco; Rossetti, Cecilia; Vendramin, Igor; Piani, Daniela; Rinaldi, Mauro; Ferrante, Luisa; Quintana, Eduard; Pruna-Guillen, Robert; Rodriguez Lega, Javier; Pinto, Angel G.; Mäkikallio, Timo; Acharya, Metesh; El-Dean, Zein; Field, Mark; Harky, Amer; Gerelli, Sebastien; Di Perna, Dario; Jormalainen, Mikko; Gatti, Giuseppe; Mazzaro, Enzo; Juvonen, Tatu; Peterss, Sven (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    (1) Background: Acute Stanford type A aortic dissection (TAAD) may complicate the outcome of cardiovascular procedures. Data on the outcome after surgery for iatrogenic acute TAAD is scarce. (2) Methods: The European Registry of Type A Aortic Dissection (ERTAAD) is a multicenter, retrospective study including patients who underwent surgery for acute TAAD at 18 hospitals from eight European countries. The primary outcomes were in-hospital mortality and 5-year mortality. Twenty-seven secondary outcomes were evaluated. (3) Results: Out of 3902 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for acute TAAD, 103 (2.6%) had iatrogenic TAAD. Cardiac surgery (37.8%) and percutaneous coronary intervention (36.9%) were the most frequent causes leading to iatrogenic TAAD, followed by diagnostic coronary angiography (13.6%), transcatheter aortic valve replacement (10.7%) and peripheral endovascular procedure (1.0%). In hospital mortality was 20.5% after cardiac surgery, 31.6% after percutaneous coronary intervention, 42.9% after diagnostic coronary angiography, 45.5% after transcatheter aortic valve replacement and nihil after peripheral endovascular procedure (p = 0.092), with similar 5-year mortality between different subgroups of iatrogenic TAAD (p = 0.710). Among 102 propensity score matched pairs, in-hospital mortality was significantly higher among patients with iatrogenic TAAD (30.4% vs. 15.7%, p = 0.013) compared to those with spontaneous TAAD. This finding was likely related to higher risk of postoperative heart failure (35.3% vs. 10.8%, p < 0.0001) among iatrogenic TAAD patients. Five-year mortality was comparable between patients with iatrogenic and spontaneous TAAD (46.2% vs. 39.4%, p = 0.163). (4) Conclusions: Iatrogenic origin of acute TAAD is quite uncommon but carries a significantly increased risk of in-hospital mortality compared to spontaneous TAAD.
  • Laurell, Jenni; Gholami, Khalil; Tirri, Kirsi; Hakkarainen, Kai (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    This study examined Finnish eighth graders’ (N = 1136) educational aspirations and how those can be predicted by mindsets, academic achievement, and gender. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate how two mindset constructs (intelligence and giftedness), domain-specific academic performance (mathematics and reading), and gender relate to students’ educational aspirations on three levels (academic, vocational, and unknown). The growth mindset about giftedness was found to predict unknown aspirations, whereas the growth mindset about intelligence did not predict educational aspirations. High performance in math predicted students’ academic aspirations, but performance in reading did not predict educational aspirations. Gender-related differences were found, as boys seem to have vocational aspirations, but the effect did not penetrate all schools. Lastly, students’ aspirations differed between schools: from some schools, students are more likely to apply to university, while from other schools, students are more likely to apply to vocational education. Overall, the study demonstrated that a growth mindset does not directly predict academic aspirations, and the relationship between implicit beliefs and educational outcomes might be more complex than suggested.
  • Jääskeläinen, Tiina; Klemetti, Miira M. (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Paralleling the increasing trends of maternal obesity, gestational diabetes (GDM) has become a global health challenge with significant public health repercussions. In addition to short-term adverse outcomes, such as hypertensive pregnancy disorders and fetal macrosomia, in the long term, GDM results in excess cardiometabolic morbidity in both the mother and child. Recent data suggest that women with GDM are characterized by notable phenotypic and genotypic heterogeneity and that frequencies of adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes are different between physiologic GDM subtypes. However, as of yet, GDM treatment protocols do not differentiate between these subtypes. Mapping the genetic architecture of GDM, as well as accurate phenotypic and genotypic definitions of GDM, could potentially help in the individualization of GDM treatment and assessment of long-term prognoses. In this narrative review, we outline recent studies exploring genetic risk factors of GDM and later type 2 diabetes (T2D) in women with prior GDM. Further, we discuss the current evidence on gene–lifestyle interactions in the development of these diseases. In addition, we point out specific research gaps that still need to be addressed to better understand the complex genetic and metabolic crosstalk within the mother–placenta–fetus triad that contributes to hyperglycemia in pregnancy.
  • Boström, Anna; Bergh, Anna; Hyytiäinen, Heli; Asplund, Kjell (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Background: Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ECSWT) is increasingly used to treat different types of musculoskeletal conditions in sport and companion animals. To explore the scientific basis for the treatment, we conducted a systematic review of the literature on ECSWT used in horses, dogs, and cats. Methods: Relevant articles published in 1980–2020 were identified from three major databases. Each article was assessed for risk of bias. Results: The review identified 27 relevant articles on the effects of ECSWT in horses, nine in dogs, but none in cats. Typically, ECSWT involved one to three treatment sessions at 1- to 3-week intervals. We identified studies on bone mass and bone healing, wound healing, navicular disease, ligament injury, desmitis, sesamoiditis, tendon injury, osteoarthritis, and short-term analgesic effects. Common to all indications was that the scientific evidence was very limited. For each separate indication, there were relatively few studies, many of which had methodological flaws. Where favorable results were reported, they were usually not replicated in independent studies. A few encouraging results were found. Conclusions: In sport and companion animals, the scientific evidence for clinical effects of ECSWT in horses, dogs, and cats is limited. For some applications, notably short-term pain relief, ligament ailments, and osteoarthritis, the results seem promising and warrant further exploration in high-quality studies.
  • Gynther, Mikko; Estrada, Mariana Leal; Loppi, Sanna; Korhonen, Paula; Kanninen, Katja M.; Malm, Tarja; Koistinaho, Jari; Auriola, Seppo; Fricker, Gert; Puris, Elena (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) is an enzyme regulating membrane phospholipid homeostasis and the release of arachidonic acid utilized in inflammatory responses. It represents an attractive target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Previously, we showed that lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced systemic inflammation caused abnormal lipid metabolism in the brain of a transgenic AD mouse model (APdE9), which might be associated with potential changes in cPLA2 activity. Here, we investigated changes in cPLA2 expression and activity, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying these alterations due to chronic LPS administration in the cerebral cortex of female APdE9 mice as compared to saline- and LPS-treated female wild-type mice and saline-treated APdE9 mice. The study revealed the significant effects of genotype LPS treatment on cortical cPLA2 protein expression and activity in APdE9 mice. LPS treatment resulted in nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFkB) activation in the cortex of APdE9 mice. The gene expressions of inflammation markers Il1b and Tnfa were significantly elevated in the cortex of both APdE9 groups compared to the wild-type groups. The study provides evidence of the elevated expression and activity of cPLA2 in the brain cortex of APdE9 mice after chronic LPS treatment, which could be associated with NFkB activation.
  • Machado, Marília Carneiro; Yamamoto, Priscila Akemi; Pippa, Leandro Francisco; de Moraes, Natália Valadares; Neves, Fabiane Maria Fernandes; Portela, Ricardo Dias; Barrouin-Melo, Stella Maria; Hielm-Björkman, Anna; Godoy, Ana Leonor Pardo Campos; Estrela-Lima, Alessandra (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    This prospective study aimed to evaluate the effect of metronomic cyclophosphamide on carboplatin’s tolerability, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics in dogs with mammary carcinoma. Sixteen female dogs with mammary carcinoma were divided into groups: 300 mg/m2 intravenous (i.v.) carboplatin therapy (G1 = 8) or 300 mg/m2 i.v. carboplatin which was associated with 12.5 mg/m2 oral cyclophosphamide in a metronomic regimen (G2 = 8). The investigated animals underwent a clinical evaluation, a mastectomy, a carboplatin chemotherapy, and serial blood sampling for the pharmacokinetic analysis. The adverse events and survival rates were monitored. A non-compartmental analysis was applied to calculate the pharmacokinetic parameters of carboplatin in the 2nd and 4th chemotherapy cycles. Carboplatin PK showed high interindividual variability with a 10-fold variation in the area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC) in G1. The systemic plasma exposure to carboplatin was equivalent in both of the treatments considering the AUC and maximum plasma concentration (Cmax) values. Although the red blood cells (p < 0.0001), platelets (p = 0.0005), total leukocytes (p = 0.0002), and segmented neutrophils (p = 0.0007) were reduced in G2, the survival rate increased (p = 0.0044) when it was compared to G1. In conclusion, adding low daily doses of cyclophosphamide to a carboplatin therapy showed promising outcomes in female dogs with mammary tumors.
  • Fahad, Shah; Chavan, Sangram Bhanudas; Chichaghare, Akash Ravindra; Uthappa, Appanderanda Ramani; Kumar, Manish; Kakade, Vijaysinha; Pradhan, Aliza; Jinger, Dinesh; Rawale, Gauri; Yadav, Dinesh Kumar; Kumar, Vikas; Farooq, Taimoor Hassan; Ali, Baber; Sawant, Akshay Vijay; Saud, Shah; Chen, Shouyue; Poczai, Peter (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Agroforestry integrates woody perennials with arable crops, livestock, or fodder in the same piece of land, promoting the more efficient utilization of resources as compared to monocropping via the structural and functional diversification of components. This integration of trees provides various soil-related ecological services such as fertility enhancements and improvements in soil physical, biological, and chemical properties, along with food, wood, and fodder. By providing a particular habitat, refugia for epigenic organisms, microclimate heterogeneity, buffering action, soil moisture, and humidity, agroforestry can enhance biodiversity more than monocropping. Various studies confirmed the internal restoration potential of agroforestry. Agroforestry reduces runoff, intercepts rainfall, and binds soil particles together, helping in erosion control. This trade-off between various non-cash ecological services and crop production is not a serious constraint in the integration of trees on the farmland and also provides other important co-benefits for practitioners. Tree-based systems increase livelihoods, yields, and resilience in agriculture, thereby ensuring nutrition and food security. Agroforestry can be a cost-effective and climate-smart farming practice, which will help to cope with the climate-related extremities of dryland areas cultivated by smallholders through diversifying food, improving and protecting soil, and reducing wind erosion. This review highlighted the role of agroforestry in soil improvements, microclimate amelioration, and improvements in productivity through agroforestry, particularly in semi-arid and degraded areas under careful consideration of management practices.
  • Almuhayawi, Mohammed S.; Al Jaouni, Soad K.; Selim, Samy; Alkhalifah, Dalal Hussien M.; Marc, Romina Alina; Aslam, Sidra; Poczai, Peter (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Enterobacter xiangfangensis is a novel, multidrug-resistant pathogen belonging to the Enterobacter genus and has the ability to acquire resistance to multiple antibiotic classes. However, there is currently no registered E. xiangfangensis drug on the market that has been shown to be effective. Hence, there is an urgent need to identify novel therapeutic targets and effective treatments for E. xiangfangensis. In the current study, a bacterial pan genome analysis and subtractive proteomics approach was employed to the core proteomes of six strains of E. xiangfangensis using several bioinformatic tools, software, and servers. However, 2611 nonredundant proteins were predicted from the 21,720 core proteins of core proteome. Out of 2611 nonredundant proteins, 372 were obtained from Geptop2.0 as essential proteins. After the subtractive proteomics and subcellular localization analysis, only 133 proteins were found in cytoplasm. All cytoplasmic proteins were examined using BLASTp against the virulence factor database, which classifies 20 therapeutic targets as virulent. Out of these 20, 3 cytoplasmic proteins: ferric iron uptake transcriptional regulator (FUR), UDP-2,3diacylglucosamine diphosphatase (UDP), and lipid-A-disaccharide synthase (lpxB) were chosen as potential drug targets. These drug targets are important for bacterial survival, virulence, and growth and could be used as therapeutic targets. More than 2500 plant chemicals were used to molecularly dock these proteins. Furthermore, the lowest-binding energetic docked compounds were found. The top five hit compounds, Adenine, Mollugin, Xanthohumol C, Sakuranetin, and Toosendanin demonstrated optimum binding against all three target proteins. Furthermore, molecular dynamics simulations and MM/GBSA analyses validated the stability of ligand–protein complexes and revealed that these compounds could serve as potential E. xiangfangensis replication inhibitors. Consequently, this study marks a significant step forward in the creation of new and powerful drugs against E. xiangfangensis. Future studies should validate these targets experimentally to prove their function in E. xiangfangensis survival and virulence.
  • Yrjälä, Tommi; Helenius, Ilkka; Rissanen, Tiia; Ahonen, Matti; Taittonen, Markku; Helenius, Linda (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Persistent pain after posterior spinal fusion affects 12 to 42% of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The incidence of persistent pain among surgically treated children with Scheuermann kyphosis and spondylolisthesis is not known. The aim of our study was to determine the predictors and incidence of acute and chronic postoperative pain in adolescents undergoing posterior spinal fusion surgery. The study was a retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected pediatric spine register data. The study included 213 consecutive patients (158 AIS, 19 Scheuermann kyphosis, and 36 spondylolisthesis), aged 10–21 years undergoing posterior spinal fusion at a university hospital between March 2010 and March 2020. The mean (SD) daily postoperative opioid consumption per kilogram was significantly lower in the spondylolisthesis patients 0.36 mg/kg/day (0.17) compared to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis 0.51 mg/kg/day (0.25), and Scheuermann kyphosis 0.52 mg/kg/day (0.25) patients after surgery (p = 0.0004). Number of levels fused correlated with the daily opioid consumption (rs = 0.20, p = 0.0082). The SRS-24 pain domain scores showed a statistically significant improvement from preoperative levels to two-year follow-up in all three groups (p ≤ 0.03 for all comparisons). The spondylolisthesis patients had the lowest SRS pain domain scores (mean 4.04, SD 0.94), reporting more pain two years after surgery, in comparison to AIS (mean 4.31, SD 0.60) (p = 0.043) and SK (mean 4.43, SD 0.48) patients (p = 0.049). Persistent postoperative pain in adolescents undergoing posterior spinal fusion is related to disease pathology while higher acute postoperative pain is associated with a more extensive surgery. Spondylolisthesis patients report more chronic pain after surgery compared to AIS and SK patients.
  • Tuccillo, Fabio; Wang, Yaqin; Edelmann, Minnamari; Lampi, Anna-Maija; Coda, Rossana; Katina, Kati (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022)
    Fermentation with Weissella confusa A16 could improve the flavor of various plant-based sources. However, less is known about the influence of fermentation conditions on the profile of volatile compounds, dextran synthesis and acidity. The present work investigates the synthesis of potential flavor-active volatile compounds, dextran, acetic acid, and lactic acid, as well as the changes in viscosity, pH, and total titratable acidity, during fermentation of faba bean protein concentrate with W. confusa A16. A Response Surface Methodology was applied to study the effect of time, temperature, dough yield, and inoculum ratio on the aforementioned responses. Twenty-nine fermentations were carried out using a Central Composite Face design. A total of 39 volatile organic compounds were identified: 2 organic acids, 7 alcohols, 8 aldehydes, 2 alkanes, 12 esters, 3 ketones, 2 aromatic compounds, and 3 terpenes. Long fermentation time and high temperature caused the formation of ethanol and ethyl acetate and the reduction of hexanal, among other compounds linked to the beany flavor. Levels of dextran, acetic acid, and lactic acid increased with increasing temperature, time, and dough yield. Optimal points set for increased dextran and reduced acidity were found at low temperatures and high dough yield. Such conditions would result in hexanal, ethyl acetate and ethanol having a relative peak area of 35.9%, 7.4%, and 4.9%, respectively.

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