249 research outputs found

    Fine sediment reduces vertical migrations of Gammarus pulex (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in response to surface water loss

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    Surface and subsurface sediments in river ecosystems are recognized as refuges that may promote invertebrate survival during disturbances such as floods and streambed drying. Refuge use is spatiotemporally variable, with environmental factors including substrate composition, in particular the proportion of fine sediment (FS), affecting the ability of organisms to move through interstitial spaces. We conducted a laboratory experiment to examine the effects of FS on the movement of Gammarus pulex Linnaeus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) into subsurface sediments in response to surface water loss. We hypothesized that increasing volumes of FS would impede and ultimately prevent individuals from migrating into the sediments. To test this hypothesis, the proportion of FS (1–2 mm diameter) present within an open gravel matrix (4–16 mm diameter) was varied from 10 to 20% by volume in 2.5% increments. Under control conditions (0% FS), 93% of individuals moved into subsurface sediments as the water level was reduced. The proportion of individuals moving into the subsurface decreased to 74% at 10% FS, and at 20% FS no individuals entered the sediments, supporting our hypothesis. These results demonstrate the importance of reducing FS inputs into river ecosystems and restoring FS-clogged riverbeds, to promote refuge use during increasingly common instream disturbances

    Raised tone reveals ATP as a sympathetic neurotransmitter in the porcine mesenteric arterial bed

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    The relative importance of ATP as a functional sympathetic neurotransmitter in blood vessels has been shown to be increased when the level of preexisting vascular tone or pressure is increased, in studies carried out in rat mesenteric arteries. The aim of the present study was to determine whether tone influences the involvement of ATP as a sympathetic cotransmitter with noradrenaline in another species. We used the porcine perfused mesenteric arterial bed and porcine mesenteric large, medium and small arteries mounted for isometric tension recording, because purinergic cotransmission can vary depending on the size of the blood vessel. In the perfused mesenteric bed at basal tone, sympathetic neurogenic vasocontractile responses were abolished by prazosin, an α1- adrenoceptor antagonist, but there was no significant effect of α,β-methylene ATP, a P2X receptor-desensitizing agent. Submaximal precontraction of the mesenteric arterial bed with U46619, a thromboxane A2 mimetic, augmented the sympathetic neurogenic vasocontractile responses; under these conditions, both α,β-methylene ATP and prazosin attenuated the neurogenic responses. In the mesenteric large, medium and small arteries, prazosin attenuated the sympathetic neurogenic contractile responses under conditions of both basal and U46619-raised tone. α,β-Methylene ATP was effective in all of these arteries only under conditions of U46619- induced tone, causing a similar inhibition in all arteries, but had no significant effect on sympathetic neurogenic contractions at basal tone. These data show thatATP is a cotransmitter with noradrenaline in porcine mesenteric arteries; the purinergic component was revealed under conditions of partial precontraction, which is more relevant to physiological conditions

    A Probiotic Adjuvant Lactobacillus rhamnosus Enhances Specific Immune Responses after Ocular Mucosal Immunization with Chlamydial Polymorphic Membrane Protein C

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    Recent advances in the development of chlamydia vaccines, using live-attenuated or ultraviolet light-inactivated chlamydia, are paving the way for new possibilities to oppose the societal challenges posed by chlamydia-related diseases, such as blinding trachoma. An effective subunit vaccine would mitigate the risks associated with the use of a whole-cell vaccine. Our rationale for the design of an efficient subunit vaccine against Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is based on the membrane proteins involved in the initial Ct-host cell contact and on the route of immunization that mimics the natural infection process (i.e., via the ocular mucosa). The first aim of our study was to characterize the specific conjunctival and vaginal immune responses following eye drop immunization in BALB/c mice, using the N-terminal portion of the Ct serovar E polymorphic membrane protein C (N-PmpC) as the subunit vaccine antigen. Second, we aimed to examine the adjuvant properties of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LB) when formulated with N-PmpC. N-PmpC applied alone stimulated the production of N-PmpC-and Ct serovar B-specific antibodies in serum, tears and vaginal washes, whereas the combination with LB significantly enhanced these responses. The N-PmpC/LB combination initiated a T cell response characterized by an elevated percentage of CD25+ T cells and CD8+ effector T cells, enhanced CD4+ T-helper 1 skewing, and increased regulatory T cell responses. Together, these results show that eye drop vaccination with combined use of N-PmpC and a live probiotic LB stimulates specific cellular and humoral immune responses, not only locally in the conjunctiva but also in the vaginal mucosa, which could be a promising approach in Ct vaccine development

    The Structure of the EU Mediasphere

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    Background. A trend towards automation of scientific research has recently resulted in what has been termed “data-driven inquiry” in various disciplines, including physics and biology. The automation of many tasks has been identified as a possible future also for the humanities and the social sciences, particularly in those disciplines concerned with the analysis of text, due to the recent availability of millions of books and news articles in digital format. In the social sciences, the analysis of news media is done largely by hand and in a hypothesis-driven fashion: the scholar needs to formulate a very specific assumption about the patterns that might be in the data, and then set out to verify if they are present or not. Methodology/Principal Findings. In this study, we report what we think is the first large scale content-analysis of cross-linguistic text in the social sciences, by using various artificial intelligence techniques. We analyse 1.3 M news articles in 22 languages detecting a clear structure in the choice of stories covered by the various outlets. This is significantly affected by objective national, geographic, economic and cultural relations among outlets and countries, e.g., outlets from countries sharing strong economic ties are more likely to cover the same stories. We also show that the deviation from average content is significantly correlated with membership to the eurozone, as well as with the year of accession to the EU. Conclusions/Significance. While independently making a multitude of small editorial decisions, the leading media of the 27 EU countries, over a period of six months, shaped the contents of the EU mediasphere in a way that reflects its deep geographic, economic and cultural relations. Detecting these subtle signals in a statistically rigorous way would be out of the reach of traditional methods. This analysis demonstrates the power of the available methods for significant automation of media content analysis

    Experiences With and Attitudes Toward Death and Dying Among Homeless Persons

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    BACKGROUND: Homeless persons face many barriers to health care, have few resources, and experience high death rates. They live lives of disenfranchisement and neglect. Few studies have explored their experiences and attitudes toward death and dying. Unfortunately, studies done in other populations may not apply to homeless persons. Exploring these experiences and attitudes may provide insight into life, health care, and end-of-life (EOL) concerns of this population. OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences and attitudes toward death and dying among homeless persons. DESIGN: Qualitative study utilizing focus groups. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-three homeless persons recruited from homeless service agencies. MEASUREMENTS: In-depth interviews, which were audiotaped and transcribed. RESULTS: We present seven themes, some of which are previously unreported. Homeless persons described many significant experiences with death and dying, and many participants suffered losses while very young. These encounters influenced participants’ attitudes toward risks and risky behavior: e.g., for some, these experiences provided justification for high-risk behaviors and influenced their behaviors while living on the streets. For others, they may be associated with their homelessness. Finally, these experiences informed their attitudes toward death and dying as well as EOL care; homeless persons believe that care will be poor at the EOL. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study have implications for addressing social services, health promotion, prevention, and EOL care for homeless persons, as well as for others who are poor and disenfranchised

    Analysis of pmpD Expression and PmpD Post-Translational Processing during the Life Cycle of Chlamydia trachomatis Serovars A, D, and L2

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    BACKGROUND: The polymorphic membrane protein D (PmpD) in Chlamydia is structurally similar to autotransporter proteins described in other bacteria and may be involved in cellular and humoral protective immunity against Chlamydia. The mechanism of PmpD post-translational processing and the role of its protein products in the pathogenesis of chlamydial infection have not been very well elucidated to date. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we examined the expression and post-translational processing of the protein product of the pmpD gene during the life cycle of C. trachomatis serovars A, D, and L2. Each of these three serovars targets different human organs and tissues and encodes a different pmpD gene nucleotide sequence. Our quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction results demonstrate that the pmpD gene is up-regulated at 12-24 hours after infection regardless of the Chlamydia serovar. This up-regulation is coincidental with the period of exponential growth and replication of reticulate bodies (RB) of Chlamydia and indicates a probable similarity in function of pmpD in serovars A, D, and L2 of Chlamydia. Using mass spectrometry analysis, we identified the protein products of post-translational processing of PmpD of C. trachomatis serovar L2 and propose a double pathway model for PmpD processing, with one cleavage site between the passenger and autotransporter domains and the other site in the middle of the passenger domain. Notably, when Chlamydia infected culture cells were subjected to low (28 degrees C) temperature, PmpD post-translational processing and secretion was found to be uninhibited in the resulting persistent infection. In addition, confocal microscopy of cells infected with Chlamydia confirms our earlier hypothesis that PmpD is secreted outside Chlamydia and its secretion increases with growth of the chlamydial inclusion. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The results of this current study involving multiple Chlamydia serovars support the general consensus that the pmpD gene is maximally expressed at mid infection and provide new information about PmpD as an autotransporter protein which is post-translationally processed and secreted outside Chlamydia during normal and low temperature induced persistent chlamydial infection

    Genome-wide profiling of humoral immunity and pathogen genes under selection identifies immune evasion tactics of Chlamydia trachomatis during ocular infection

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    The frequency and duration of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) ocular infections decrease with age, suggesting development of partial immunity. However, there is a lack of clear correlates of immunity to Ct infection in humans. We screened sera from a cohort of Gambian children followed for six-months against a Ct-proteome microarray. At genome sequence level, we detected signatures of selection from a population of ocular Ct isolates from Guinea-Bissau. Together these approaches allowed us to highlight the focus of humoral responses and hypothesise new modes of pathogen immune evasion. Children who were susceptible to frequent and/or prolonged Ct infection had a less focussed antibody response, including preferential recognition of forty-two antigens. There was evidence of positive and purifying selection across the genome, but little balancing selection. In contrast, most antigens that were associated with susceptibility were under neutral selection. These data suggest an evasion strategy in which Ct presents a large panel of irrelevant antigens to the immune system to block or misdirect protective responses. Development of a focused immune response, possibly induced through vaccination, may be an effective strategy to promote protection to Ct infection

    Generation of a Convalescent Model of Virulent Francisella tularensis Infection for Assessment of Host Requirements for Survival of Tularemia

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    Francisella tularensis is a facultative intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of tularemia. Development of novel vaccines and therapeutics for tularemia has been hampered by the lack of understanding of which immune components are required to survive infection. Defining these requirements for protection against virulent F. tularensis, such as strain SchuS4, has been difficult since experimentally infected animals typically die within 5 days after exposure to as few as 10 bacteria. Such a short mean time to death typically precludes development, and therefore assessment, of immune responses directed against virulent F. tularensis. To enable identification of the components of the immune system that are required for survival of virulent F. tularensis, we developed a convalescent model of tularemia in C57Bl/6 mice using low dose antibiotic therapy in which the host immune response is ultimately responsible for clearance of the bacterium. Using this model we demonstrate αβTCR+ cells, γδTCR+ cells, and B cells are necessary to survive primary SchuS4 infection. Analysis of mice deficient in specific soluble mediators shows that IL-12p40 and IL-12p35 are essential for survival of SchuS4 infection. We also show that IFN-γ is required for survival of SchuS4 infection since mice lacking IFN-γR succumb to disease during the course of antibiotic therapy. Finally, we found that both CD4+ and CD8+ cells are the primary producers of IFN-γand that γδTCR+ cells and NK cells make a minimal contribution toward production of this cytokine throughout infection. Together these data provide a novel model that identifies key cells and cytokines required for survival or exacerbation of infection with virulent F. tularensis and provides evidence that this model will be a useful tool for better understanding the dynamics of tularemia infection

    Gender Differences in Early Reading Strategies: a Comparison of Synthetic Phonics Only with a Mixed Approach to Teaching Reading to 4-5 Year-Old Children

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    A survey of primary schools in England found that girls outperform boys in English across all phases (Ofsted in Moving English forward. Ofsted, Manchester, 2012). The gender gap remains an on-going issue in England, especially for reading attainment. This paper presents evidence of gender differences in learning to read that emerged during the development of a reading scheme for 4- and 5-year-old children in which 372 children from Reception classes in sixteen schools participated in 12-month trials. There were three arms per trial: Intervention non-PD (non-phonically decodable text with mixed methods teaching); Intervention PD (phonically decodable text with mixed methods teaching); and a ‘business as usual’ control condition SP (synthetic phonics and decodable text). Assignment to Intervention condition was randomised. Standardised measures of word reading and comprehension were used. The research provides statistically significant evidence suggesting that boys learn more easily using a mix of whole-word and synthetic phonics approaches. In addition, the evidence indicates that boys learn to read more easily using the natural-style language of ‘real’ books including vocabulary which goes beyond their assumed decoding ability. At post-test, boys using the nonphonically decodable text with mixed methods (Intervention A) were 8 months ahead in reading comprehension compared to boys using a wholly synthetic phonics approach
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