1,255 research outputs found

    A hungry need for knowledge on the black soldier fly digestive system

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    The interest towards the black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, has grown impressively in the last few years, fostered by the legislative changes in the European landscape that have lifted the ban regarding the use of BSF larvae as feedstuff. In addition, bioconversion mediated by the larvae of the BSF is viewed as one of the most promising technologies for organic waste processing and valorisation. Finally, new, alternative applications to exploit various larval products such as lipids, chitin, antimicrobial peptides, and frass are being explored. However, this positive trend, confirmed by the increasing number of companies that deal with BSF mass rearing and processing, is in sharp contrast with the limited information on the biology of this insect, in particular on aspects related to its digestive features. This lack of knowledge needs to be carefully considered and filled in coming years, as a deep characterisation of the morphology, physiology, transcriptomics, and proteomics of the digestive system of the insect, as well a fine dissection of related aspects as gut microbiota and pathogens, is a prerequisite to improve the amazing bioconversion capabilities of this dipteron. So far, the larval stages received the most attention in research, but there might still be a lot to win by focusing more on the adult stage. Further expanding the basic knowledge on both the larval and the adult gut could lead to unexpected findings and open new perspectives to produce value-added bioproducts

    The GiSAS study: Rationale and design of pragmatic randomized controlled trial on aripiprazole, olanzapine and haloperidol in the long-term treatment of schizophrenia

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    Given the controversy about the comparative efficacy of first- compared with second-generation antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia, more large-scale evidence is needed to guide clinicians in their prescriptions. Most randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were conducted in centers of excellence on highly selected samples, poorly representative of real-world patients, and often suffered conflicts of interest as they were sponsored by drug companies. The primary aim of the present study is to compare the effectiveness of haloperidol, olanzapine and aripiprazole in a representative sample of schizophrenia patients. The GiSAS trial is an open-label, independent, pragmatic RCT in Italian community-based public psychiatric services. At least 260 patients meeting the DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia will be randomly allocated to one of the study drugs and followed up for one year. A two-year observational phase will follow. The primary outcome for tolerability will be the onset of metabolic syndrome. The primary endpoint for effectiveness will be discontinuation of antipsychotic monotherapy. Secondary measures include global functioning, time to discontinuation due to side-effects, change of lipid profile, extrapyramidal symptoms and other adverse effects. In the last four years, the GiSAS study group has been working to implement this multicenter RCT. The trial mechanism is now fully functional and working. As of end of February 2011, 260 subjects were randomized by 54 study investigators in 33 out of 43 participating centers

    In Vivo Isolation and Characterization of Stem Cells with Diverse Phenotypes Using Growth Factor Impregnated Biomatrices

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    BACKGROUND: The stimulation to differentiate into specific cell types for somatic stem cells is largely due to a series of internal and external signals coming from the microenvironment that surrounds the stem cell. Even though intensive research has been made, the basic mechanisms of plasticity and/or the molecules regulating stem cells proliferation and differentiation are not completely determined. Potential answers concerning the problems could be derived from the studies of stem cells in culture. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: We combine a new procedure (using the matrigel biopolymer supplemented with a selected cytokine/growth factor) with classic techniques such as light, confocal and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry and cell culture, to perform an analysis on stem cells involved in the leech (Hirudo medicinalis) repair tissues. The leech has a relative anatomical simplicity and is a reliable model for studying a variety of basic events, such as tissue repair, which has a striking similarity with vertebrate responses. Our data demonstrate that the injection of an appropriate combination of the matrigel biopolymer supplemented with a selected cytokine/growth factor in the leech Hirudo medicinalis is a remarkably effective tool for isolating a specific cell population in vivo. A comparative analysis of biopolymer in vivo sorted stem cells indicates that VEGF recruited cells of a hematopoietic/endothelial phenotype whereas MCP-1/CCL2 isolated cells that were of an early myeloid lineage. CONCLUSION: Our paper describes, for the first time, a method allowing not only the isolation of a specific cell population in relation to the cytokine utilized but also the possibility to culture a precise cell type whose isolation is otherwise quite difficult. This approach could be broadly applied to isolate stem cells of diverse origins based on the recruitment stimuli employed

    Validation of a graphic test to quantitatively assess the dominant hand dexterity

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    Dexterity dysfunction is a key feature of disability in many neurological and non-neurological diseases. The Nine-Hole Peg Test (NHPT) is the most used test to assess hand dexterity in clinical practice but presents limitations. A new graphic test to enhance objective evaluation of the of the dominant hand dexterity is proposed. The task consists in drawing a continuous line in paths composed by a part with multiple orthogonal changes of direction (‘meander’), and a second part derived from the Archimedean spiral (‘spiral’). The test was validated in 200 healthy controls and 93 neurological patients. 48 patients performed also the NHPT. Several parameters were analyzed, among which total time, total length, number of touches and number of crossings. Healthy subjects display statistically significant differences with respect to pathological subjects in the case of total time, number of touches, and number of crossings (p<0.001), but not in the case of total length (p = 0.27) needed to complete the second sheet. Moreover, healthy controls display a learning effect, the time needed to complete the second sheet was significantly lower than for the first sheet (p<0.001), and an inverse correlation with age was observed (r = 0.56, p<0.001). The comparison between the NHPT and the new test showed a strong positive correlation (r = 0.71, p<0.001) whereas touches and crossing a weak positive one (r = 0.35, p = 0.01). The new test distinguishes between a slow but precise performance and a fast but imprecise performance, thus providing additional information with respect to NHPT

    Ras activation in Hirudo medicinalis angiogenic process

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    In some leeches like Hirudo medicinalis, any kind of stimulation (surgical wound or growth factor injection) provokes the botryoidal tissue response. This peculiar tissue, localized in the loose connective tissue between gut and body wall, is formed by granular botryoidal cells and flattened endothelial-like cells. Under stimulation, the botryoidal tissue changes its shape to form new capillaries. In mammals, the molecular regulation of the angiogenic phenotype requires coordinated input from a number of signalling molecules: among them the GTPase Ras is one of the major actor. In our current study, we determine whether Ras activation alone would be sufficient to drive vessels formation from leech botryoidal tissue. Our findings indicate that assembly and disassembly of actin filaments regulated by Ras protein is involved in morphological modification of botryoidal tissue cells during leech angiogenic process

    Hirudo medicinalis as alternative model for in vivo and in vitro studies on nanomaterials toxicity.

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    Due to the steady increase of production and use of engineered nanomaterials (NMs), intentional or unintentional discharges into the environment may occur. Since it is critical to develop new methods to fully understand NMs bioaccumulation and cytotoxicity, a reliable model in which analyze NMs effects both in vivo and in vitro is more than ever necessary. Here we propose the leech, Hirudo medicinalis, as alternative animal model to study multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) effects by means of an extended study that includes in vivo and in vitro treatments. First, MWCNTs were dispersed in leeches\u2019 water to mimic a possible environmental exposure. In a second assay, a MWCNTs-supplemented biomatrix was injected in leeches\u2019 body wall. Thirdly, leeches macrophages were isolated and cultured to analyze their responses after MWCNTs in vitro treatment. Our results show that water dispersed MWCNTs evoke in the leech body wall a strong inflammatory response, involving mainly monocyte-macrophages cells. Ultrastructural analysis of MWCNTs-supplemented biomatrix revealed that in leech macrophages MWCNTs are internalized both in an active (phagocytosis) and a passive manner (membrane piercing). Finally, MWCNTs in vitro treatment cause the decrease of cell proliferation rate and the increase of ROS production and of the apoptotic rate. Our combined experimental approaches, not only attest the ability of MWCNTs in inducing a potent inflammatory response, but also confirm Hirudo medicinalis as a good alternative model that can be successfully used to study, both in vivo and in vitro, the possible harmful effects of any nanomaterial