[Experimental] List of manuscripts available for review volunteers
23 manuscripts available for review volunteers
November 9, 2017

Background. Work related accidents are common and may lead to permanent physical disability or death. Besides specific injury related challenges these workers face numerous socioeconomic stresses. These stresses are associated with cortical reorganization that may result in cognitive problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the stress level and attention in adults with work related physical disabilities.

Methods. Morning salivary cortisol was used as a stress marker while the event-related potential during the performance of the auditory oddball paradigm was conducted to investigate the attentive ability to sound stimuli. Eighteen injured workers (IW) and ten unaffected healthy workers (CW) were recruited for this study with half being men and the other half women (aged 21 to 55). Behavioral performance measures including reaction time (RT), accuracy rate, and commission error as well as the latency and amplitude of P300 wave over the central (Cz), centroparietal (CPz), and parietal (Pz) electrode sites were used to compare the two groups.

Results. This study demonstrated significantly higher salivary cortisol levels, longer RT, less accuracy to respond to the target during the auditory oddball paradigm in the IW group as compared to CW group. In addition, a significant prolongation of the peak latency of auditory P300 wave over Cz, CPz, and Pz electrodes was also detected in IW group.

Discussion. The increased cortisol levels found in the IW group reflect the alteration of the basal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis as a result of the stresses of living with a physical disability. Delayed RT and the decreased in accuracy together with changing in peak latencies of auditory P300 wave indicate the impairment of attention networks in IW.

Conclusion. Our study revealed that the workers with permanent physical disabilities exhibit the higher level of stress and attention deficits as compared to their uninjuried peers.

November 6, 2017

Background: Sampling bias, like survey participants’ nonresponse, needs to be adequately addressed in the analysis of sampling designs to get representative population estimates. Often survey weights will be calibrated on specific covariates related to the probability of selection and nonresponse, to get unbiased population estimates. Such calibrated survey (CS) weights are usually constructed for valid cross-sectional results and not for additional longitudinal analyses. For example, when the outcome of interest is time to death, and sampling selection is related to time to death and censoring, given other covariates, the sampling design is informative. Then, unweighted or CS weighted regression analyses may be biased. In 2010, Switzerland changed from a decennial full census to a yearly register-based and survey-based census system. In the present study, we investigated the potential bias in mortality analysis due to an informative sampling design using census-linked survey data.

Methods: We analysed more than 6.5 million individuals aged 15 years or older from registry-based census data from years 2010 to 2013, linked with mortality records up to end of 2014. Out of this population, approximately 3.5% were aimed to be sampled from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) in a stratified yearly micro census. The SFSO calculated CS weights to enable representative population estimates from the micro census. We additionally constructed inverse probability (IP) weights where we used survival information in addition to the known sampling design and nonresponse covariates from the SFSO. We compared CS and IP weighted mortality rates (MR) and life expectancy (LE) with estimates from the true underlying population. Additionally, we performed simulation studies under different sampling and nonresponse scenarios.

Results: We found that individuals who died in 2011, had a 0.67 [95% CI (0.64, 0.70)] times lower odds of participating in the 2010 micro census, using a multivariable logistic regression model with covariates age, gender, nationality, civil status, region and survival information. IP weighted MR were comparable to estimates from the total population, whereas CS weighted MR underestimated the population MR in general. The IP weighted LE estimates at age 30 years for men were 50.9 years (95% CI, 50.2 to 51.6 years), whereas the CS weighted overestimated LE by 2.5 years. Our results from the simulation study confirmed that IP weighted models are comparable to true underlying population estimates.

Conclusion: Mortality analyses based on the new Swiss survey-based census may be biased, caused by an informative sampling design, where an unmeasured risk factor is related to mortality and non-response of the survey. We conclude that mortality analyses based on census-linked survey data have to be carefully conducted - and if possible – validated by register information to allow for an unbiased interpretation and generalisation.

November 4, 2017
Backgound. Cactaceae are subject to strong anthropogenic pressure due to external factors such as loss of habitat, looting for illegal traffic, or intrinsic factors such as low rates of growth and recruitment. This supports the search for strategies for its conservation, considering diverse aspects as the reproduction, establishment, specific environmental requirements and the interactions with the environment. Methods. In the present work, these aspects were evaluated through the survival and growth of eight native species from northeastern Mexico, to establish a proposal for their ex situ conservation by reintroduction, applying three substrates (perlite/peat moss, zeolite/peat-moss and natural soil), in west and east sun exposure, respectively. Results. The results showed a variability of both survival and growth, depending on the type of substrate and exposure, with the highest growth values in diameter with A. myriostigma in the eastern solar exposure (51.20 and 42.63 mm in zeolite/peat-moss and perlite/peat moss, respectively) and in height with the plants placed in the eastern exposure, with S. scheeri (7.38.cm with perlite/peat moss and 6.98 cm with natural soil) and A. myriostigma (6.8 cm with zeolite/peat-moss and 6.08 cm with perlite/peat moss). As for survival, the highest value was recorded with the treatments West-Zeolite/peat-moss and East-Perlite/peat-moss, since in these treatments, six of the eight species evaluated (Acharagma roseana, Astrophytum myriostigma, Escobaria dasyacantha, Sclerocactus scheeri and Mammillaria prolifera) reached 100%, while the lowest survival value (0%) was recorded with Mammillaria plumosa on the three substrate combinations with the west exposure. Discusion. Sun exposure combinated with soil type in the experimental treatments west - zeolite and east - perlite allowed the successful establishment of six of the eight evaluated species. The cactaceae established with zeolite reached the mayor diameter and height, which shows that the zeolite substrate provides a greater availability of nutrients and facilitates the absorption of water, favoring the growth of plants. When plants are used for reintroduction, significant losses are recorded, which prevents the establishment of a viable population in the medium term.
November 4, 2017

Background. E-health technology applications are essential tools of modern information technology that improve quality of healthcare delivery in hospitals of both developed and developing countries. However, despite its positive benefits, studies indicate that the rate of the e-health adoption in some developing countries is either low or underutilized. This is due in part, to barriers such as resistance from healthcare professionals, poor infrastructure, and low technical expertise among others.

Objective. The aim of this study is to investigate, identify and analyze the underlying factors that affect healthcare professionals decision to adopt and use e-health technology applications in developing countries, with particular reference to hospitals in Nigeria.

Methods. The study used quantitative method in the form of close-ended questionnaire to collect data from a sample of 465 healthcare professionals randomly selected from 15 hospitals in Nigeria. We used variables of modified Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) as dependent variables and external factors as independent variables. The collected data was then analyzed using SPSS statistical analysis such as frequency test, reliability analysis, and correlation coefficient analysis.

Results. The results obtained, which correspond with findings from other researches published, indicate that perceived usefulness, belief, as well as attitude of healthcare professionals have significant influence on their willingness to adopt and use the e-health technology applications. Other strategic factors identified include low literacy level and experience in using the e-health technology applications, lack of motivation, poor organizational and management policies.

Conclusion. The study contributes to the literature by pin-pointing significant areas its findings can positively affect or be useful, such as serving as guide to healthcare policy decision makers in Nigeria and other developing countries to understand their areas of priorities and weaknesses when planning for e-health technology adoption and implementation.

November 3, 2017
Vinasses are the main byproducts from ethanol distillation and distilled beverages worldwide and are generated in large amounts. Tequila vinasses (TV) are considered as a possible feedstock for biohydrogen production through dark fermentative (DF) process due to the high content of organic matter. However, the composition of TV composition has not been previously studied to determine if they contain compounds that may inhibit DF. This work aimed to identify and quantify volatile compounds (VC) in TV, and determine if their VC profile dependent upon the type of production process. TV were sampled from 3 NC (not cooking agave stems) process, and 3 C (cooking agave stem) and volatile compounds were determined by GC-MS. A total of 111 volatile compounds were identified, the TV from cooking process (C) showed the higher presence of furanic compounds (furfural and 5-(hydroxymethyl) furfural) and organic acids (acetic acid and butyric acid), which were reported as potential inhibitors for dark fermentation. To our knowledge, this is the first description of the volatile compounds composition from TV. This study could serve as a base for further investigations related with vinasse from different sources.
November 3, 2017
This study assessed in detail the influence of four different human proteins on the activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes and on the formation of regulatory T cells. Human whole-blood samples were incubated overnight with four different human proteins. The effects of these proteins on the downstream immune-system response, on the expression of extracellular activation markers on and intracellular cytokines in T lymphocytes, and on the number of regulatory T cells (T-reg cells) was investigated via flow cytometry. Overnight incubation with ß-actin or glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), which are cytoplasmic proteins, increased the expression of both extracellular activation markers (CD4, CD8, CD3, and CD69) and intracellular cytokines but did not significantly affect the number of T-reg cells. In contrast, incubation with human albumin or insulin, which are serum proteins, reduced both extracellular activation markers and intracellular cytokine expression and subsequently increased the number of T-reg cells.
November 1, 2017

Background: Kawasaki disease (KD) is an immune-mediated systemic vasculitis and infection plays an important role in the pathophysiology of KD. The susceptibility to infectious disease in patients with KD remains largely unclear. This study aimed to investigate the risk of respiratory tract infection (RTI)-related hospitalizations in children with KD.

Methods: Data from Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database was analyzed. Children with KD were selected as KD group and age- and sex-matched non-KD patients were selected as control group with 1:1 ratio. Both cohorts were tracked for 1 year to investigate the incidences of RTI-related hospitalizations. Cox regression hazard model was used to adjust for confounding factors and calculate the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR).

Results: Between January 1996 and December 2012, 13,760 patients with KD were identified as KD group and 13,709 patients were enrolled as control group. An obviously reduced risk of RTI-related hospitalizations was observed in KD patients (aHR: 0.53, 95% confidence interval: 0.49-0.57). The decreased risk persisted through the 1-year follow-up period with a peak protection in 3-6 months (aHR: 0.46, 95% confidence interval: 0.40-0.53).

Conclusions: KD patients had approximately half reduction of risk for RTI-related hospitalizations. The protective effects persisted for at least 1 year. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the entire mechanism and investigate the influences of intravenous immunoglobulin.

October 30, 2017
Obesity and sleep fragmentation (SF) are often co-occurring pro-inflammatory conditions in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Leptin is a peptide hormone produced by adipocytes that has anorexigenic effects upon appetite while regulating immunity. The role of leptin in mediating inflammatory responses to SF is incompletely understood. Male C57BL/6j (lean) and ob/ob mice (leptin-deficient mice exhibiting obese phenotype) were subjected to SF or control conditions for 24 hours using an automated SF chamber. Trunk blood and tissue samples from the periphery (liver, spleen, fat, and heart) and brain (hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus) were collected. Quantitative PCR was used to determine relative cytokine gene expression of pro-inflammatory (IL-1β, TNF-α) and anti-inflammatory (TGF-β1) cytokines. ELISA was used to determine serum corticosterone concentration. Ob/ob mice exhibited elevated cytokine gene expression in liver (TNF-α, TGF- β1), heart (TGF- β1), fat (TNF-α) and brain (hippocampus, hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex: IL-1β, TNF-α) compared with wild-type mice. Conversely, leptin deficiency decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression in heart (IL-1β, TNF-α). SF significantly increased IL-1β and TNF-α gene expression in fat and TGF- β1 expression in spleen relative to controls, but only in wild-type mice. SF increased basal serum corticosterone regardless of genotype. Taken together, these findings suggest that leptin deficiency alters cytokine gene expression differently in the brain compared to peripheral tissues with minimal interaction from sleep fragmentation.
October 30, 2017
Background. A key strategy in biodiversity conservation is the establishment of protected areas. In the future, however, the redistribution of species in response to ongoing climate change is likely to affect species’ representativeness in those areas. Here we quantify the effectiveness of planning protected areas network to represent 151 birds endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot, under current and future climate change conditions for 2050. Methods. We combined environmental niche modeling and systematic conservation planning using both a county and a regional level planning strategy. We recognized the conflict between biodiversity conservation and economic development, including socio-economic targets (as opposed to biological only) and using planning units that are meaningful for policy-makers. Results. We estimated an average contraction of 29,500 km² in environmentally suitable areas for birds, representing 52% of currently suitable areas. Still, the most cost-effective solution represented almost all target species, requiring only ca. 10% of the Atlantic Forest counties to achieve that representativeness, independent of strategy. More than 50% of these counties were selected both in the current and future planned networks, representing > 83% of the species. Discussion. Our results indicate that: i) planning protected areas network currently can be useful to represent species under climate change; ii) the overlapped planning units in the best solution for both current and future conditions can be considered as “no regret” areas; iii) priority counties are spread throughout the biome, providing specific guidance wherever the possibility of creating protected area arises, and iv) decision can occurs at different administrative spheres (Federal, State or County) as we found quite similar numerical solutions using either county or regional level strategies.
October 29, 2017
RNA editing modifies transcripts and may alter their regulation or function. In humans, the most common modification is adenosine to inosine (A-to-I). We examined the global characteristics of RNA editing in 4301 human tissue samples. More than 20 million A-to-I edits were identified in 62% of all protein-coding transcripts. mRNA recoding was extremely rare; only 11 novel recoding sites were uncovered. Forty-three single nucleotide polymorphisms from genome-wide association studies were associated with RNA editing; one that influences type 2 diabetes (rs2028299) was associated with editing in ARPIN. Twenty-five editing sites in seven liver genes, including LRP11 and PLIN5, were associated with plasma lipid levels. Our findings provide new insights into the genetic regulation of RNA editing and establish a rich catalogue for further exploration of this process.
October 28, 2017
Background : Although, most of the research focus on the effect of birth methods on postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), there is, however, a lack of studies that examine whether the association between PPH and birth methods is different between nulliparous and multiparous women. We aims to compare the effects of birth methods on PPH between nulliparous and multiparous women. Methods: The data on 151,333 eligible women, who gave birth between January 2014 and May 2016, was obtained from the electronic health records in Shanxi province, China. The ordered logistic regression model was used to examine the association of birth methods and varying degrees of PPH between nulliparous and multiparous women. Results: In comparison with the odds for SVB, the odds of increased PPH for CS in multiparous women (aOR: 4.32; 95% CI: 3.03-6.14) was more than twice that in the nulliparous women (aOR: 2.04; 95% CI: 1.40-2.97). However, the PPH risk for episiotomy between multiparous (aOR: 1.24; 95% CI: 0.96-1.62) and nulliparous women (aOR: 1.55; 95% CI: 0.92-2.60) were nearly the same. The PPH risk of forceps-assisted birth was much higher in multiparous women (aOR: 9.32; 95% CI: 3.66-23.71) than in nulliparous women (aOR: 1.70; 95% CI: 0.91-3.18). Meanwhile, that for vacuum-assisted birth in multiparous women (aOR: 2.41; 95% CI: 0.36-16.29) was more than twice the PPH risk in the nulliparous women (aOR: 1.05; 95% CI: 0.40-2.73). However, the difference was insignificant. Uterine inertia was more prone to cause PPH in the multiparous women (aOR: 5.54; 95% CI: 1.76-17.50) than in the nulliparous women (aOR: 3.03; 95% CI: 1.48-6.21). In contrast to uterine inertia, vertex malposition presented a decreased effect to the development of PPH in the multiparous (aOR: 1.93; 95% CI: 1.25-3.00) and nulliparous women (aOR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.63-1.22). Conclusion: The associations between birth methods and PPH are different between nulliparous and multiparous women. Therefore, the choice of birth methods should be tailored for nulliparous and multiparous women at labor to lower the severity of postpartum hemorrhage.
October 27, 2017
Background. Studies on the method of treatment of condylar fractures (CFs) are still timely and important. Despite many publications published in this area there are many controversies about how to treat these fractures. The aim of this review was to present and discuss the current views on the treatment of condylar fractures (CFs). The authors address the following issues: the etiology, epidemiology and mechanisms of CFs; the strategies and methods for the treatment of CFs. Moreover, the choice of surgical approach for the open treatment of CFs as well as techniques and materials used for fixation of CF are discussed. Methods. The scientific database PubMed was used to search for relevant articles published between 2000 and 2016. The following search terms were used: “Mandibular condylar fractures”, “Mandibular condylar process”, ”Mandibular trauma”, “Mandibular condyle fracture treatment”. The analysis referred to both original and review papers (including meta-analyses) that concerned adult patients. The case reports and conference proceedings were excluded from the analysis. Results. There are still differences in opinions among researchers regarding the choice of appropriate treatment - closed or open. There is no consensus among open treatment supporters in the context of choosing the right surgical approach. Important question is which material to choose for osteosynthesis of condylar fracture. Discussion. The recent studies show satisfactory results in terms of stability of condylar osteosynthesis with the use of 3D plates. When seeking an optimal technique of condylar osteosynthesis, one should take into consideration not only the biomechanical aspects, but also the effects of implants on organism, in particular on cellular, humoral and vascular mechanisms responsible for the inflammatory response. In the future, further discussion is required on the choice of the type of material for fixation of condylar fracture and, in particular, on the possibility of using resorbable materials. With the development of virtual surgical planning techniques as well as the increasing use of individual implants, it is possible to use these methods in the future for surgical treatment of condylar fractures.
October 24, 2017
The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by Shinya Yamanaka in 2006 was heralded as a major breakthrough of the decade in stem cell research. The ability to reprogrammed human somatic cells to a pluripotent embryonic stem cell-like state through the ectopic expression of a combination of embryonic transcription factors was greeted with great excitement by scientists and bioethicists. The reprogramming technology offers the opportunity to generate patient-specific stem cells for modeling human diseases, drug development and screening, and individualized regenerative cell therapy. However, fundamental questions have been raised regarding the molecular mechanism of iPSCs generation, a process still poorly understood by scientists. The efficiency of reprogramming of iPSCs remains low due to the effect of various barriers of reprogramming. There is also the risk of chromosomal instability and oncogenic transformation associated with the use of viral vectors, such as retrovirus and lentivirus, which deliver the reprogramming transcription factors by integration in the host cell genome. These challenges can hinder the therapeutic prospects and promise of iPSCs and their clinical applications. Consequently, extensive studies have been done to elucidate the molecular mechanism of reprogramming and novel strategies have been identified which help to improve the efficiency of reprogramming methods and overcome the safety concerns linked with iPSCs generation. Distinct barriers and enhancers of reprogramming have been elucidated and non-integrating reprogramming methods have been reported. Here, we summarize the progress and the recent advances that have been made over the last 10 years in the iPSCs field, with emphasis on the molecular mechanism of reprogramming, strategies to improve the efficiency of reprogramming, characteristics and limitations of iPSCs, and the progress made in the applications of iPSCs in the field of disease modelling, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. Additionally, this study appraised the role of genomic editing technology in the generation of healthy iPSCs.
October 24, 2017

Background: Patellofemoral pain is often reported as a diffuse pain at the front of the knee during knee-loading activities. A patient’s description of pain location and distribution is commonly drawn on paper by clinicians, which is difficult to quantify, report and compare within and between patients. One way of overcoming these potential limitations is to have the patient draw their pain regions using digital platforms, such as personal computer tablets.

Objective: To assess the validity of using computer tablets to acquire a patient’s knee pain drawings as compared to paper based records in patients with patellofemoral pain.

Methods: Patients (N=35) completed knee pain drawings on identical images (size and color) of the knee as displayed on paper and a computer tablet. Pain area expressed as pixel density, was calculated as a percentage of the total drawable area for paper and digital records. Bland-Altman plots, Pearson’s correlation coefficients and one-sample tests were used in data analysis.

Results: No significant difference in pain area was found between the paper and digital records of mapping pain area (mean difference (95%CI; p) = 0.002% (-0.159 to 0.157; P=0.98)). A strong linear correlation (R2=0.870) was found for pain area and the limits of agreement show less than ±1% difference between paper and digital drawings.

Conclusion: Pain drawings as acquired using paper and computer tablet are equivalent in terms of total area of reported knee pain. The advantages of digital recording platforms, such as, quantification and reporting of pain area, could be realized in both research and clinical settings.

October 21, 2017
Seed germination plays an important role in determining the composition and regeneration of plant populations. However, the influencing factors and strategies employed for seed germination in desert grasslands under grazing remain unknown. Therefore, in this study, the reproductive allocation, seed density, seed properties, and the corresponding seed germination rates were examined within a dominant population in a desert grassland. Possible situations encountered during dispersal were also simulated for their effects on seed germination. The results showed that reproductive individuals not subjected to grazing were significantly more abundant than those under moderate and heavy grazing. The highest seed density and soil seed bank occurred under no grazing, followed by moderate grazing and then heavy grazing. The number of seed germination in soil seed bank was basically 1/4 of the number of seeds. Grazing treatments affected the phenotypic characteristics of seeds and reduced the lower limit of the weight of germinable seeds. Awn removal dramatically increased germination. The longest germination time was for seeds that entered the soil at an angle of 0°. For the angle of seeds entering soil and the days of germination, the fitting relationship can be described by y = ax2 + bx + c. Our research demonstrated that grazing negatively affected grassland vegetation. Individual plant adopted different adaptation strategies under grazing of different intensities; for example, a fixed proportion of the seed number and seed germination number of S. breviflora in the soil seed bank was maintained by exceeding the lower limit for seed germination. In the process of seed dispersion, the awn effectively avoided germination under unfavourable conditions and helped seeds enter the soil at a optimal angle to promote germination.
October 19, 2017

Objective: To translate the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ) into Chinese, validate its reliability and validity in nursing students and investigate the perceived stress level of nursing students.

Method: Forward- and back-translation combined with expert assessment and cross-cultural adaptations were used to construct the Chinese version of the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (C-PSQ). This research adopted a stratified sampling method among 1519 nursing students in 30 classes of Ningbo College of Health Sciences to assess the reliability and validity of the C-PSQ.

Results: The C-PSQ retained all 30 items of the original scale. Principal component analysis extracted five factors that explained 52.136% of the total variance. The S-CVI/Ave was 0.913. The results of the confirmatory factor analysis were as follows: χ 2 /df=4.376, RMR=0.023, GFI=0.921, AGFI=0.907,CFI=0.921, PNFI=0.832, and PGFI=0.782. The scale’s Cronbach’s α was 0.922 CI (0.916, 0.928), and Cronbach’s α of each dimension was 0.899 CI (0.891, 0.907), 0.821 CI (0.807, 0.835), 0.688 CI (0.661, 0.713), 0.703 CI (0.678, 0.726) and 0.523 CI (0.472, 0.570). The correlation coefficient between the first and second test, the first and third test, and the second and third test was 0.725 CI (0.514, 0.878), 0.787 CI (0.607, 0.890), and 0.731 CI (0.506, 0.897), respectively. The average score of perceived stress in nursing students was 0.399±0.138. Different demographic factors were significantly associated with the perceived stress of nursing students.

Discussion:The C-PSQ has good reliability and validity, which means that the scale can be used as a universal tool for psychosomatic studies. The perceived stress of nursing students was relatively high. Further studies are needed.

October 18, 2017
Venom has been associated with the ecological success of many groups of organisms, most notably reptiles, gastropods, and arachnids. In some cases, diversification has been directly linked to tailoring of venoms for dietary specialization. Spiders in particular are known for their diverse venoms and wide range of predatory behaviors, although there is much to learn about scales of variation in venom composition and function. The current study focuses on venom characteristics in different sexes within a species of spider. We chose the genus Tetragnatha (Tetragnathidae) because of its unusual courtship behavior involving interlocking of the venom delivering chelicerae (i.e., the jaws), and several species in the genus are already known to have sexually dimorphic venoms. Here, we use transcriptome and proteome analyses to identify venom components that are dimorphic in Tetragnatha versicolor. We present cDNA sequences of unique high molecular weight proteins that are only present in males and that have remote, if any, detectable similarity to known venom components in spiders or other venomous lineages and several have no detectable homologs in existing databases. While the function of these proteins is not known, their presence in association with the cheliceral locking mechanism during mating together with the presence of prolonged male-male mating attempts in a related, cheliceral-locking species (Doryonychus raptor) lacking the dimorphism suggests potential for a role in sexual communication.
October 18, 2017
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are known to promote plant growth and nutrient uptake, but the role of AM fungi play in nitrogen (N) uptake is still unclear. Therefore, a pot experiment was conducted to assess the effects of N addition (0 and 200 kg N ha−1 yr−1) and AM inoculation (Diversispora eburnea, Claroideoglomus etunicatum, Paraglomus occultum, 1:1:1 mixture of each AM fungal species and a non-mycorrhizal control) on AM root colonization, plant growth, N and P nutrition. Our results showed that AM root colonization was unaffected by N addition, but was significantly affected by different AM fungal species. D. eburnea and C. etunicatum showed a significant higher root colonization than P. occultum. Plant biomass, N and P content was significantly enhanced by N addition when inoculated with D. eburnea and AM mixture, but unaffected by N addition when inoculated with C. etunicatum and P. occultum. On the other hand, inoculation with different AM fungal species resulted in different plant response. For instance, inoculation with D. eburnea and AM mixture contributed substantially to plant biomass, N and P nutrition. Whereas, inoculation with C. etunicatum and P. occultum did not significantly enhance plant biomass, N and P content regardless of N addition. In conclusion, these results indicated that the plant response to N addition depends on AM fungal species, and emphasized that significant functional diversity exists among AM fungal species.
October 6, 2017
Background: Several water based sports (swimming, surfing and stand up paddle boarding) require adequate thoracic mobility (specifically rotation) in order to perform the appropriate activity requirements. Themeasurement of thoracic spine rotation is problematic for clinicians due to a lack of convenient and reliable measurement techniques. More recently, smartphones have been used to quantify movement in various joints in the body, however there appears to be a paucity of research using smartphones to assess thoracic spine movement. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether a smart phone application could be used to evaluate thoracic spine rotation ROM in healthy participants. Methods A total of thirty participants were recruited for this study. Thoracic spine rotation ROM was measured using both the current clinical gold standard, a universal goniometer (UG) and the Smart Phone Compass app. Intra-rater and inter-rater reliability was determined with a Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI). Validation of the Compass app in comparison to the UG was measured using Pearson's correlation coefficient and levels of agreement were identified with Bland-Altman plots and 95% limits of agreement. Results: Both the UG and Compass app measurements both had excellent reproducibility for intra-rater (ICC 0.94-0.98) and inter-rater reliability (ICC 0.72-0.89). However,the Compass app measurements had higher intra-rater reliability (ICC = 0.96-0.98; 95% CI 0.93-0.99; vs. ICC = 0.94-0.98; 95% CI 0.88-0.99) and inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.87-0.89; 95% CI 0.74-0.95 vs. ICC = 0.72-0.82; 95% CI 0.21-0.94). A strong and significant correlation was found between the UG and the Compass app, demonstrating good concurrent validity (r =0.835, p<0.001). Levels of agreement between the two devices were 24.8° (LoA –9.5°, +15.3°). The UG was found to consistently measure higher values than the compass app (mean difference 2.8°, P<0.001). Conclusion: This study reveals that the iPhone® app (Compass) is a reliable tool for measuring thoracic spine rotation which produces greater reproducibility of measurements both within and between raters than a UG. As a significant positive correlation exists between the Compass app and UG, this supports the use of either device in clinical practice as a reliable and valid tool to measure thoracic rotation.
October 4, 2017
The excessive application of inorganic fertilizers has led to the degeneration of soil physico-chemical properties, such as nutrient availability, microbial biomass, and has adversely affected sustainable crop production. The main theme of this study was to develop an efficient solution for rehabilitation and reclamation of degraded soil by quantifying the effect of application of a combination of organic manure and inorganic fertilizers with different irrigation levels on soil biochemical and microbial attributes. We studied the dynamic impacts on enzyme activity, soil organic carbon, total N, C:N ratio, microbial biomass and soil respiration rate by application of a CM150 treatment (PK 126:102 kg ha-1 + Manure 12000 kg ha-1 + 150 mm irrigation) in a northwestern plateau of China. Our experimental results revealed that the combined application of manure + PK fertilization significantly increased the soil organic carbon, water soluble carbon, total nitrogen pool, and narrowed the C:N ratio. In two consecutive years, adding organic manure with chemical fertilizer significantly elevated microbial biomass, the soil respiration rate, and the activities of several enzyme types. However, CF75 and CF150 treatments, in which only PK fertilizer 126:102 kg ha-1 + 150 mm or 75 mm irrigation was applied, minimally affected the measured indices, as compared with the no fertilizer, no irrigation control (NF0), which had no obvious effects on enzymatic activity or microbial biomass. The supply of irrigation in combination with manure improved enzyme activity including urease, alkaline phosphates, catalase and dehydrogenase, but had the opposite effect for invertase, whose activity gradually decreased with the increased availability of water. Our findings revealed that the CM150 treatment can increase soil microbial biomass, and degraded cropland in hilly area of the Loess Plateau ultimately could be restored.
October 3, 2017

Background: Autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), which is characterized by an increased presence of thyroid autoantibodies (TAbs), such as antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPOAbs) and antibodies against thyroglobulin (TgAbs), has been reported to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because AITD and RA both involve autoimmunity. However, few data are available on the incidence of TAbs in Chinese RA patients, and studies on the association between TAbs and joint damage as well as synovitis in RA patients remain sparse. Here, we aimed to evaluate the incidence of TAbs in a consecutive Chinese RA cohort and to investigate whether the elevated presence of TAbs is associated with joint damage and synovitis in RA patients.

Methods: A total of 125 hospitalized RA patients were consecutively recruited. Clinical data and available synovial tissues were collected at baseline, and TAbs and thyroid function were detected by chemiluminescent immunoassay. Patients who tested positive for TPOAbs or TgAbs were classified as the TAbs-positive group, and patients who tested positive for neither TPOAbs nor TgAbs were recruited as the TAbs-negative group. Disease activity was assessed using DAS28-ESR (the disease activity score in 28 joints and including the erythrocyte sedimentation rate). X-ray assessment of the hand/wrist was performed according to the Sharp/van der Heijde-modified Sharp score (mTSS), and patients with an mTSS score > 10 were defined as having radiographic joint damage (RJD). Serial tissue sections were stained immunohistochemically for CD3, CD15, CD20, CD34, CD38, and CD68, and synovitis were assessed according to Krenn’s synovitis score.

Results: A total of 44 (35%) patients were positive for either TPOAbs or TgAbs. Importantly, there was a significantly greater percentage of patients with RJD in the TAbs-positive group versus the TAbs-negative group (68% vs. 42%, p = 0.005). Compared with the TAbs-negative group, significantly more CD38-positive plasma cells infiltrated the TAbs-positive synovium, and a higher percentage of patients with high-grade synovitis were observed in the TAbs-positive group (5/8, 63% vs. 5/14, 36%). Moreover, RF positivity and disease activity indicators, including TJC28, DAS28-ESR, and CDAI, were significantly higher in the TAbs-positive group (all p < 0.05). Adjusted logistic regression analysis revealed that positive TAbs (OR 2.999, 95% CI 1.301-6.913; p=0.010) and disease duration (OR 1.013, 95% CI 1.006-1.019; p < 0.001) were independently associated with RJD, and an odds ratio of 2.845 (95% CI 1.062-7.622) was found for RJD in women with positive TAbs (n=37) compared with those without TAbs (n = 59) (p = 0.038).

Conclusion: Our data showed that joint destruction was amplified in RA patients with an elevated presence of TAbs, which supports the importance and necessity of TAbs and thyroid function screening and monitoring in RA patient management in clinical practice.

October 1, 2017

Society is increasingly demanding a more sustainable management of agro-ecosystems in a context of climate change and an ever growing global population. The fate of crop residues is one of the important management aspects under debate, since it represents an unneglectable quantity of organic matter which can be kept in or removed from the system. The topic of residue management is not new, but the need for conclusions linked to local pedo-climatic conditions has become apparent with an increasing amount of studies showing a diversity of conclusions. This study specifically focusses on temperate climate and loamy soil using a 8-year data set.

We compared four contrasting residue management strategies differing in the amount of crop residues returned to the soil (incorporation vs. exportation of residues) and in the type of tillage (reduced tillage (10 cm depth) vs. conventional tillage (ploughing at 25 cm depth)) in a field experiment between 2008 and 2016. We assessed the impact of the crop residue management on crop production (six crops – winter wheat, faba bean and maize), soil organic carbon content, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium soil content and uptake by the crops.

We observed a limited effect of the residue management strategy on crop productivity. The main differences came from the type of tillage and less from the restitution or removal of residues. All years and crops combined, conventional tillage resulted in a yield advantage of 3.4% as compared to reduced tillage, which can be partly explained by a lower germination rate under reduced tillage, especially during drier years. On average, only small differences were observed for total organic carbon (TOC) content of the soil, but reduced tillage resulted in a very clear stratification of TOC and also of P and K content as compared to conventional tillage. We observed no effect of residue management on the NO3- content, since the effect of fertilization dominated the effect of residue management. The relatively low differences between the management strategies are probably due to the fact that the experiment is rather young (<10y). The experiment should be followed up in the future to observe whether more consistent changes in soil quality are present on the long term. In order to assess the full impact of crop residue management on the agro-ecosystem functioning, there is a range of additional variables to quantify: soil fauna, greenhouse gas emissions, economical aspects of the technical itinerary, …

September 27, 2017
In the aftermath of physical exercise, the valence of people’s feelings tends to be more positive, and their level of arousal higher, than they otherwise would be. We developed a naturalistic methodology for quantifying within-individual fluctuations in affective valence and arousal in relation to bouts of exercise in a sample of 38 recreational runners. Participants provided daily affective reports for six weeks using experience sampling. Information on their runs was harvested from an online platform for athletes, and matched to the affective reports. Average valence and arousal were higher on days when the person had run than on the next day, and higher the day after a run than on the days after that. Over the course of the day of a run, valence and arousal declined significantly as the time since the run increased. Physically fitter participants had more positive valence overall, and this particularly true at baseline (i.e. when they had not run recently). There was some evidence of higher-dose (i.e. longer and faster) runs being associated with lower arousal on the next and subsequent days, though not on the day of the run. Gender did not moderate associations between running and valence or arousal.

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