Displaying publications 1 - 20 of 1447 in total

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  1. Tan T, Ong WS, Rajasekaran T, Nee Koo K, Chan LL, Poon D, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0156008.
    PMID: 27231951 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156008
    PURPOSE: Elderly cancer patients are at increased risk for malnutrition. We aim to identify comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) based clinical factors associated with increased nutritional risk and develop a clinical scoring system to identify nutritional risk in elderly cancer patients.

    PATIENTS AND METHODS: CGA data was collected from 249 Asian patients aged 70 years or older. Nutritional risk was assessed based on the Nutrition Screening Initiative (NSI) checklist. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were applied to assess the association between patient clinical factors together with domains within the CGA and moderate to high nutritional risk. Goodness of fit was assessed using Hosmer-Lemeshow test. Discrimination ability was assessed based on the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC). Internal validation was performed using simulated datasets via bootstrapping.

    RESULTS: Among the 249 patients, 184 (74%) had moderate to high nutritional risk. Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified stage 3-4 disease (Odds Ratio [OR] 2.54; 95% CI, 1.14-5.69), ECOG performance status of 2-4 (OR 3.04; 95% CI, 1.57-5.88), presence of depression (OR 5.99; 95% CI, 1.99-18.02) and haemoglobin levels <12 g/dL (OR 3.00; 95% CI 1.54-5.84) as significant independent factors associated with moderate to high nutritional risk. The model achieved good calibration (Hosmer-Lemeshow test's p = 0.17) and discrimination (AUC = 0.80). It retained good calibration and discrimination (bias-corrected AUC = 0.79) under internal validation.

    CONCLUSION: Having advanced stage of cancer, poor performance status, depression and anaemia were found to be predictors of moderate to high nutritional risk. Early identification of patients with these risk factors will allow for nutritional interventions that may improve treatment tolerance, quality of life and survival outcomes.

  2. Watanabe M, Roth TL, Bauer SJ, Lane A, Romick-Rosendale LE
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0156318.
    PMID: 27232336 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156318
    A variety of wildlife species maintained in captivity are susceptible to iron storage disease (ISD), or hemochromatosis, a disease resulting from the deposition of excess iron into insoluble iron clusters in soft tissue. Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is one of the rhinoceros species that has evolutionarily adapted to a low-iron diet and is susceptible to iron overload. Hemosiderosis is reported at necropsy in many African black and Sumatran rhinoceroses but only a small number of animals reportedly die from hemochromatosis. The underlying cause and reasons for differences in susceptibility to hemochromatosis within the taxon remains unclear. Although serum ferritin concentrations have been useful in monitoring the progression of ISD in many species, there is some question regarding their value in diagnosing hemochromatosis in the Sumatran rhino. To investigate the metabolic changes during the development of hemochromatosis and possibly increase our understanding of its progression and individual susceptibility differences, the serum metabolome from a Sumatran rhinoceros was investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics. The study involved samples from female rhinoceros at the Cincinnati Zoo (n = 3), including two animals that died from liver failure caused by ISD, and the Sungai Dusun Rhinoceros Conservation Centre in Peninsular Malaysia (n = 4). Principal component analysis was performed to visually and statistically compare the metabolic profiles of the healthy animals. The results indicated that significant differences were present between the animals at the zoo and the animals in the conservation center. A comparison of the 43 serum metabolomes of three zoo rhinoceros showed two distinct groupings, healthy (n = 30) and unhealthy (n = 13). A total of eighteen altered metabolites were identified in healthy versus unhealthy samples. Results strongly suggest that NMR-based metabolomics is a valuable tool for animal health monitoring and may provide insight into the progression of this and other insidious diseases.
  3. Ramanathan B, Poh CL, Kirk K, McBride WJ, Aaskov J, Grollo L
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155900.
    PMID: 27223692 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155900
    Dengue virus (DENV) is a major public health threat worldwide. A key element in protection from dengue fever is the neutralising antibody response. Anti-dengue IgG purified from DENV-2 infected human sera showed reactivity against several peptides when evaluated by ELISA and epitope extraction techniques. A multi-step computational approach predicted six antigenic regions within the E protein of DENV-2 that concur with the 6 epitopes identified by the combined ELISA and epitope extraction approach. The selected peptides representing B-cell epitopes were attached to a known dengue T-helper epitope and evaluated for their vaccine potency. Immunization of mice revealed two novel synthetic vaccine constructs that elicited good humoral immune responses and produced cross-reactive neutralising antibodies against DENV-1, 2 and 3. The findings indicate new directions for epitope mapping and contribute towards the future development of multi-epitope based synthetic peptide vaccine.
  4. Shamshirband S, Banjanovic-Mehmedovic L, Bosankic I, Kasapovic S, Abdul Wahab AW
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155697.
    PMID: 27219539 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155697
    Intelligent Transportation Systems rely on understanding, predicting and affecting the interactions between vehicles. The goal of this paper is to choose a small subset from the larger set so that the resulting regression model is simple, yet have good predictive ability for Vehicle agent speed relative to Vehicle intruder. The method of ANFIS (adaptive neuro fuzzy inference system) was applied to the data resulting from these measurements. The ANFIS process for variable selection was implemented in order to detect the predominant variables affecting the prediction of agent speed relative to intruder. This process includes several ways to discover a subset of the total set of recorded parameters, showing good predictive capability. The ANFIS network was used to perform a variable search. Then, it was used to determine how 9 parameters (Intruder Front sensors active (boolean), Intruder Rear sensors active (boolean), Agent Front sensors active (boolean), Agent Rear sensors active (boolean), RSSI signal intensity/strength (integer), Elapsed time (in seconds), Distance between Agent and Intruder (m), Angle of Agent relative to Intruder (angle between vehicles °), Altitude difference between Agent and Intruder (m)) influence prediction of agent speed relative to intruder. The results indicated that distance between Vehicle agent and Vehicle intruder (m) and angle of Vehicle agent relative to Vehicle Intruder (angle between vehicles °) is the most influential parameters to Vehicle agent speed relative to Vehicle intruder.
  5. Soo KM, Khalid B, Ching SM, Chee HY
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0154760.
    PMID: 27213782 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154760
    INTRODUCTION: Dengue virus (DENV) infection is currently a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the world; it has become more common and virulent over the past half-century and has gained much attention. Thus, this review compared the percentage of severe cases of both primary and secondary infections with different serotypes of dengue virus.

    METHODS: Data related to the number of cases involving dengue fever (DF), dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), dengue shock syndrome (DSS) or severe dengue infections caused by different serotypes of dengue virus were obtained by using the SCOPUS, the PUBMED and the OVID search engines with the keywords "(dengue* OR dengue virus*) AND (severe dengue* OR severity of illness index* OR severity* OR DF* OR DHF* OR DSS*) AND (serotypes* OR serogroup*)", according to the MESH terms suggested by PUBMED and OVID.

    RESULTS: Approximately 31 studies encompassing 15,741 cases reporting on the dengue serotypes together with their severity were obtained, and meta-analysis was carried out to analyze the data. This study found that DENV-3 from the Southeast Asia (SEA) region displayed the greatest percentage of severe cases in primary infection (95% confidence interval (CI), 31.22-53.67, 9 studies, n = 598, I2 = 71.53%), whereas DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4 from the SEA region, as well as DENV-2 and DENV-3 from non-SEA regions, exhibited the greatest percentage of severe cases in secondary infection (95% CI, 11.64-80.89, 4-14 studies, n = 668-3,149, I2 = 14.77-96.20%). Moreover, DENV-2 and DENV-4 from the SEA region had been found to be more highly associated with dengue shock syndrome (DSS) (95% CI, 10.47-40.24, 5-8 studies, n = 642-2,530, I2 = 76.93-97.70%), while DENV-3 and DENV-4 from the SEA region were found to be more highly associated with dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) (95% CI, 31.86-54.58, 9 studies, n = 674-2,278, I2 = 55.74-88.47%), according to the 1997 WHO dengue classification. Finally, DENV-2 and DENV-4 from the SEA region were discovered to be more highly associated with secondary infection compared to other serotypes (95% CI, 72.01-96.32, 9-12 studies, n = 671-2,863, I2 = 25.01-96.75%).

    CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence that the presence of certain serotypes, including primary infection with DENV-3 from the SEA region and secondary infection with DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4 also from the SEA region, as well as DENV-2 and DENV-3 from non SEA regions, increased the risk of severe dengue infections. Thus, these serotypes are worthy of special consideration when making clinical predictions upon the severity of the infection.

    SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42015026093 (http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO).

  6. Fong MY, Rashdi SA, Yusof R, Lau YL
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155627.
    PMID: 27195821 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155627
    BACKGROUND: Plasmodium knowlesi is a simian malaria parasite that has been reported to cause malaria in humans in Southeast Asia. This parasite invades the erythrocytes of humans and of its natural host, the macaque Macaca fascicularis, via interaction between the Duffy binding protein region II (PkDBPαRII) and the Duffy antigen receptor on the host erythrocytes. In contrast, the P. knowlesi gamma protein region II (PkγRII) is not involved in the invasion of P. knowlesi into humans. PkγRII, however, mediates the invasion of P. knowlesi into the erythrocytes of M. mulata, a non-natural host of P. knowlesi via a hitherto unknown receptor. The haplotypes of PkDBPαRII in P. knowlesi isolates from Peninsular Malaysia and North Borneo have been shown to be genetically distinct and geographically clustered. Also, the PkDBPαRII was observed to be undergoing purifying (negative) selection. The present study aimed to determine whether similar phenomena occur in PkγRII.

    METHODS: Blood samples from 78 knowlesi malaria patients were used. Forty-eight of the samples were from Peninsular Malaysia, and 30 were from Malaysia Borneo. The genomic DNA of the samples was extracted and used as template for the PCR amplification of the PkγRII. The PCR product was cloned and sequenced. The sequences obtained were analysed for genetic diversity and natural selection using MEGA6 and DnaSP (version 5.10.00) programmes. Genetic differentiation between the PkγRII of Peninsular Malaysia and North Borneo isolates was estimated using the Wright's FST fixation index in DnaSP (version 5.10.00). Haplotype analysis was carried out using the Median-Joining approach in NETWORK (version 4.6.1.3).

    RESULTS: A total of 78 PkγRII sequences was obtained. Comparative analysis showed that the PkγRII have similar range of haplotype (Hd) and nucleotide diversity (π) with that of PkDBPαRII. Other similarities between PkγRII and PkDBPαRII include undergoing purifying (negative) selection, geographical clustering of haplotypes, and high inter-population genetic differentiation (FST index). The main differences between PkγRII and PkDBPαRII include length polymorphism and no departure from neutrality (as measured by Tajima's D statistics) in the PkγRII.

    CONCLUSION: Despite the biological difference between PkγRII and PkDBPαRII, both generally have similar genetic diversity level, natural selection, geographical haplotype clustering and inter-population genetic differentiation index.

  7. Ahmad A, Sattar MA, Azam M, Abdulla MH, Khan SA, Hashmi F, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0154995.
    PMID: 27191852 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154995
    The purpose of the present study was to investigate the interaction between H2S and NO (nitric oxide) in the kidney and to evaluate its impact on the functional contribution of α1A and α1B-adrenoreceptors subtypes mediating the renal vasoconstriction in the kidney of rats with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). In rats the LVH induction was by isoprenaline administration and caffeine in the drinking water together with intraperitoneal administration of H2S. The responsiveness of α1A and α1B to exogenous noradrenaline, phenylephrine and methoxaminein the absence and presence of 5-methylurapidil (5-MeU) and chloroethylclonidine (CEC) was studied. Cystathione gamma lyase (CSE), cystathione β synthase (CBS), 3-mercaptopyruvate sulphar transferase (3-MST) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) were quantified. There was significant up regulation of CSE and eNOS in the LVH-H2S compared to the LVH group (P<0.05). Baseline renal cortical blood perfusion (RCBP) was increased (P<0.05) in the LVH-H2S compared to the LVH group. The responsiveness of α1A-adrenergic receptors to adrenergic agonists was increased (P<0.05) after administration of low dose 5-Methylurapidil in the LVH-H2S group while α1B-adrenergic receptors responsiveness to adrenergic agonists were increased (P<0.05) by both low and high dose chloroethylclonidine in the LVH-H2S group. Treatment of LVH with H2S resulted in up-regulation of CSE/H2S, CBS, and 3-MST and eNOS/NO/cGMP pathways in the kidney. These up regulation of CSE/H2S, CBS, and 3-MST and eNOS/NO/cGMP pathways enhanced the responsiveness of α1A and α1B-adrenoreceptors subtypes to adrenergic agonists in LVH-H2S. These findings indicate an important role for H2S in modulating deranged signalling in the renal vasculature resulting from LVH development.
  8. Abdul Majid H, Ramli L, Ying SP, Su TT, Jalaludin MY, Abdul Mohsein NA
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155447.
    PMID: 27187889 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155447
    Optimal nutrition is essential for healthy growth during adolescence. This study aims to investigate the baseline nutritional intake of Malaysian adolescents by gender, body mass index, and places of residence, both urban and rural. A cohort study was conducted consisting of 794 adolescents (aged 13-years) attending 15 public secondary schools from the Central (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor) and Northern (Perak) Regions of Peninsular Malaysia. Qualified dietitians conducted a 7-day historical assessment of habitual food intakes. Facilitated by flipcharts and household measurement tools, detailed information on portion sizes and meal contents were recorded. Nutritionist Pro™ Diet Analysis software was also used to analyze the dietary records.The mean age of the adolescents was 12.86 ± 0.33 y; the mean energy intake was 1659.0 ± 329.6 kcal/d. Males had significantly (P < .001) higher energy intake than females (1774.0 ± 369.8 vs 1595.2 ± 320.6 kcal/d); adolescents in rural schools consumed more energy and cholesterol (P < .001) compared to adolescents in urban schools (1706.1 ± 377.7 kcal/d and 244.1 ± 100.2 mg/d, respectively). Obese adolescents in rural schools consumed more energy and sugar (1987.6 ± 374.0 kcal/d and 48.9 ± 23.0 g/d) (p-value <0.001).The dietary intake of normal weight versus obese adolescents differs by the location of their school. Thus, the implementation of a structured and tailored intervention is recommended to help minimize this nutritional inequality.
  9. Rusi, Majid SR
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0154566.
    PMID: 27182595 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154566
    Nanostructured network-like MnO2-NiO composite electrodes were electrodeposited onto stainless steel substrates via different electrodeposition modes, such as chronopotentiometry, chronoamperometry, and cyclic voltammetry, and then subjected to heat treatment at 300°C for metal oxide conversion. X-ray diffraction, field emission scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy were used to study the crystalline natures and morphologies of the deposited films. The electrochemical properties were investigated using cyclic voltammetry and charge/discharge tests. The results revealed that the electrochemical performance of the as-obtained composite electrodes depended on the electrodeposition mode. The electrochemical properties of MnO2-NiO composite electrodes prepared using cyclic voltammetry exhibited the highest capacitance values and were most influenced by the deposition cycle number. The optimum specific capacitance was 3509 Fg-1 with energy and power densities of 1322 Wh kg-1 and 110.5 kW kg-1, respectively, at a current density of 20 Ag-1 in a mixed KOH/K3Fe(CN)6 electrolyte.
  10. Ibrahim I, Lim HN, Huang NM, Pandikumar A
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0154557.
    PMID: 27176635 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154557
    A photoelectrochemical (PEC) sensor with excellent sensitivity and detection toward copper (II) ions (Cu2+) was developed using a cadmium sulphide-reduced graphene oxide (CdS-rGO) nanocomposite on an indium tin oxide (ITO) surface, with triethanolamine (TEA) used as the sacrificial electron donor. The CdS nanoparticles were initially synthesized via the aerosol-assisted chemical vapor deposition (AACVD) method using cadmium acetate and thiourea as the precursors to Cd2+ and S2-, respectively. Graphene oxide (GO) was then dip-coated onto the CdS electrode and sintered under an argon gas flow (50 mL/min) for the reduction process. The nanostructured CdS was adhered securely to the ITO by a continuous network of rGO that also acted as an avenue to intensify the transfer of electrons from the conduction band of CdS. The photoelectrochemical results indicated that the ITO/CdS-rGO photoelectrode could facilitate broad UV-visible light absorption, which would lead to a higher and steady-state photocurrent response in the presence of TEA in 0.1 M KCl. The photocurrent decreased with an increase in the concentration of Cu2+ ions. The photoelectrode response for Cu2+ ion detection had a linear range of 0.5-120 μM, with a limit of detection (LoD) of 16 nM. The proposed PEC sensor displayed ultra-sensitivity and good selectivity toward Cu2+ ion detection.
  11. Chin JH, Ratnavelu K
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155320.
    PMID: 27176470 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155320
    Community structure is considered one of the most interesting features in complex networks. Many real-world complex systems exhibit community structure, where individuals with similar properties form a community. The identification of communities in a network is important for understanding the structure of said network, in a specific perspective. Thus, community detection in complex networks gained immense interest over the last decade. A lot of community detection methods were proposed, and one of them is the label propagation algorithm (LPA). The simplicity and time efficiency of the LPA make it a popular community detection method. However, the LPA suffers from instability detection due to randomness that is induced in the algorithm. The focus of this paper is to improve the stability and accuracy of the LPA, while retaining its simplicity. Our proposed algorithm will first detect the main communities in a network by using the number of mutual neighbouring nodes. Subsequently, nodes are added into communities by using a constrained LPA. Those constraints are then gradually relaxed until all nodes are assigned into groups. In order to refine the quality of the detected communities, nodes in communities can be switched to another community or removed from their current communities at various stages of the algorithm. We evaluated our algorithm on three types of benchmark networks, namely the Lancichinetti-Fortunato-Radicchi (LFR), Relaxed Caveman (RC) and Girvan-Newman (GN) benchmarks. We also apply the present algorithm to some real-world networks of various sizes. The current results show some promising potential, of the proposed algorithm, in terms of detecting communities accurately. Furthermore, our constrained LPA has a robustness and stability that are significantly better than the simple LPA as it is able to yield deterministic results.
  12. Rouffaer LO, Lens L, Haesendonck R, Teyssier A, Hudin NS, Strubbe D, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0155366.
    PMID: 27168186 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155366
    In recent decades major declines in urban house sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations have been observed in north-western European cities, whereas suburban and rural house sparrow populations have remained relatively stable or are recovering from previous declines. Differential exposure to avian pathogens known to cause epidemics in house sparrows may in part explain this spatial pattern of declines. Here we investigate the potential effect of urbanization on the development of a bacterial pathogen reservoir in free-ranging house sparrows. This was achieved by comparing the prevalence of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serotype Typhimurium in 364 apparently healthy house sparrows captured in urban, suburban and rural regions across Flanders, Belgium between September 2013 and March 2014. In addition 12 dead birds, received from bird rescue centers, were necropsied. The apparent absence of Salmonella Typhimurium in fecal samples of healthy birds, and the identification of only one house sparrow seropositive for Salmonella spp., suggests that during the winter of 2013-2014 these birds did not represent any considerable Salmonella Typhimurium reservoir in Belgium and thus may be considered naïve hosts, susceptible to clinical infection. This susceptibility is demonstrated by the isolation of two different Salmonella Typhimurium strains from two of the deceased house sparrows: one DT99, typically associated with disease in pigeons, and one DT195, previously associated with a passerine decline. The apparent absence (prevalence: <1.3%) of a reservoir in healthy house sparrows and the association of infection with clinical disease suggests that the impact of Salmonella Typhimurium on house sparrows is largely driven by the risk of exogenous exposure to pathogenic Salmonella Typhimurium strains. However, no inference could be made on a causal relationship between Salmonella infection and the observed house sparrow population declines.
  13. Ghane Kisomi M, Wong LP, Tay ST, Bulgiba A, Zandi K, Kho KL, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157987.
    PMID: 27341678 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157987
    BACKGROUND: Farmworkers are at high-risk for tick bites, which potentially transmit various tick-borne diseases. Previous studies show that personal prevention against tick bites is key, and certain factors namely, knowledge, experience of tick bites, and health beliefs influence compliance with tick bites preventive behaviour. This study aimed to assess these factors and their associations with tick bite preventive practices among Malaysian farmworkers.

    METHODS: A total of eight cattle, goat and sheep farms in six states in Peninsular Malaysia participated in a cross-sectional survey between August and October 2013.

    RESULTS: A total of 151 (72.2%) out of 209 farmworkers answered the questionnaire. More than half of the farmworkers (n = 91) reported an experience of tick bites. Farms with monthly acaricide treatment had significantly (P<0.05) a low report of tick bites. Tick bite exposure rates did not differ significantly among field workers and administrative workers. The mean total knowledge score of ticks for the overall farmworkers was 13.6 (SD±3.2) from 20. The mean total tick bite preventive practices score for all farmworkers was 8.3 (SD±3.1) from 15. Fixed effect model showed the effects of four factors on tick bite prevention: (1) farms, (2) job categories (administrative workers vs. field workers), (3) perceived severity of tick bites, and (4) perceived barriers to tick bite prevention.

    CONCLUSIONS: A high proportion of farmworkers, including administrative workers, reported an experience of tick bites. The effectiveness of monthly acaricide treatment was declared by low reports of tick bites on these farms. Tick bite preventive practices were insufficient, particularly in certain farms and for administrative workers. Our findings emphasise the need to have education programmes for all farmworkers and targeting farms with low prevention practices. Education and health programmes should increase the perception of the risk of tick bites and remove perceived barriers of tick bite prevention.

  14. Hasani A, Moghavvemi S, Hamzah A
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157624.
    PMID: 27341569 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157624
    In many countries, especially one such as Malaysia, tourism has become a key factor in economic development, and the industry heavily relies on feedback from local residents. It is essential to observe and examine the perceptions of residents towards tourists and tourism development for better planning in realizing successful and sustainable tourism development. Therefore, this research measured the relationship between residents' welcoming nature, emotional closeness, and sympathetic understanding (emotional solidarity) towards tourists and their respective attitudes towards supporting tourism development. To test the proposed research model, we collected data using a questionnaire survey from 333 residents in rural areas in Malaysia. We used the structural equation modelling technique (Amos) to evaluate the research model, and the results revealed that the residents' willingness (welcoming nature) to accept tourists is the strongest factor that effects the residents' attitudes towards supporting tourism development. However, there was no significant relationship between residents' emotional closeness and their sympathetic understanding towards tourists with their attitude and support towards tourism development. Welcoming nature, emotional closeness, and sympathetic understanding are able to predict 48% of residents' attitudes towards tourism development and 62% of their support towards tourism development.
  15. Surya W, Chooduang S, Choong YK, Torres J, Boonserm P
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0158356.
    PMID: 27341696 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158356
    The binary toxin from Lysinibacillus sphaericus has been successfully used for controlling mosquito-transmitted diseases. An activation step shortens both subunits BinA and BinB before their interaction with membranes and internalization in midgut cells, but the precise role of this activation step is unknown. Herein, we show conclusively using three orthogonal biophysical techniques that protoxin subunits form only monomers in aqueous solution. However, in vitro activated toxins readily form heterodimers. This oligomeric state did not change after incubation of these heterodimers with detergent. These results are consistent with the evidence that maximal toxicity in mosquito larvae is achieved when the two subunits, BinA and BinB, are in a 1:1 molar ratio, and directly link proteolytic activation to heterodimerization. Formation of a heterodimer must thus be necessary for subsequent steps, e.g., interaction with membranes, or with a suitable receptor in susceptible mosquito species. Lastly, despite existing similarities between BinB C-terminal domain with domains 3 and 4 of pore-forming aerolysin, no aerolysin-like SDS-resistant heptameric oligomers were observed when the activated Bin subunits were incubated in the presence of detergents or lipidic membranes.
  16. Ng TL, Karim R, Tan YS, Teh HF, Danial AD, Ho LS, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156714.
    PMID: 27258536 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156714
    Interest in the medicinal properties of secondary metabolites of Boesenbergia rotunda (fingerroot ginger) has led to investigations into tissue culture of this plant. In this study, we profiled its primary and secondary metabolites, as well as hormones of embryogenic and non-embryogenic (dry and watery) callus and shoot base, Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry together with histological characterization. Metabolite profiling showed relatively higher levels of glutamine, arginine and lysine in embryogenic callus than in dry and watery calli, while shoot base tissue showed an intermediate level of primary metabolites. For the five secondary metabolites analyzed (ie. panduratin, pinocembrin, pinostrobin, cardamonin and alpinetin), shoot base had the highest concentrations, followed by watery, dry and embryogenic calli. Furthermore, intracellular auxin levels were found to decrease from dry to watery calli, followed by shoot base and finally embryogenic calli. Our morphological observations showed the presence of fibrils on the cell surface of embryogenic callus while diphenylboric acid 2-aminoethylester staining indicated the presence of flavonoids in both dry and embryogenic calli. Periodic acid-Schiff staining showed that shoot base and dry and embryogenic calli contained starch reserves while none were found in watery callus. This study identified several primary metabolites that could be used as markers of embryogenic cells in B. rotunda, while secondary metabolite analysis indicated that biosynthesis pathways of these important metabolites may not be active in callus and embryogenic tissue.
  17. Liew SM, Khoo EM, Ho BK, Lee YK, Omar M, Ayadurai V, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157631.
    PMID: 27336440 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157631
    BACKGROUND: The increasing incidence and geographical distribution of dengue has had significant impact on global healthcare services and resources. This study aimed to determine the factors associated with dengue-related mortality in a cohort of Malaysian patients.

    METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients in the Malaysian National Dengue Registry of 2013. The outcome measure was dengue-related mortality. Associations between sociodemographic and clinical variables with the outcome were analysed using multivariate analysis.

    RESULTS: There were 43 347 cases of which 13081 were serologically confirmed. The mean age was 30.0 years (SD 15.7); 60.2% were male. The incidence of dengue increased towards the later part of the calendar year. There were 92 probable dengue mortalities, of which 41 were serologically confirmed. Multivariate analysis in those with positive serology showed that increasing age (OR 1.03; CI:1.01-1.05), persistent vomiting (OR 13.34; CI: 1.92-92.95), bleeding (OR 5.84; CI 2.17-15.70) and severe plasma leakage (OR 66.68; CI: 9.13-487.23) were associated with mortality. Factors associated with probable dengue mortality were increasing age (OR 1.04; CI:1.03-1.06), female gender (OR 1.53; CI:1.01-2.33), nausea and/or vomiting (OR 1.80; CI:1.17-2.77), bleeding (OR 3.01; CI:1.29-7.04), lethargy and/or restlessness (OR 5.97; CI:2.26-15.78), severe plasma leakage (OR 14.72; CI:1.54-140.70), and shock (OR 1805.37; CI:125.44-25982.98), in the overall study population.

    CONCLUSIONS: Older persons and those with persistent vomiting, bleeding or severe plasma leakage, which were associated with mortality, at notification should be monitored closely and referred early if indicated. Doctors and primary care practitioners need to detect patients with dengue early before they develop these severe signs and symptoms.

  18. Cai Lian T, Bonn G, Si Han Y, Chin Choo Y, Chee Piau W
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157730.
    PMID: 27332883 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157730
    Obesity and rates of non-communicable diseases linked to physical inactivity have increased dramatically in Malaysia over the past 20 years. Malaysia has also been identified as one of the least physically active countries in the world with over 60% of adults being essentially sedentary. This study examines the relationship of socio-demographic factors to physical activity among 770 adults from 3 Malaysian states. Physical activity levels were significantly related to ethnicity, gender, age, occupation and educational level. Controlling for inter-relationships among these variables; age, gender, Chinese ethnicity and education level were found to have unique effects on total physical activity, as well as moderate and vigorous exercise. As would be expected, younger people were more physically active, engaging more in both moderate and vigorous types of exercise and males were generally more active than females. Contrary to findings from many developed countries, however, more educated Malaysians were less likely to engage in all types of physical activity. Ethnic Chinese participants, and to a lesser degree Indians also consistently reported lower levels of activity. Possible intervention strategies are discussed that specifically target ethnic and cultural norms related to physical activity. Future research programs exploring barriers to participation and perceptions of physical activity, as well as programs to encourage active life styles among youths are also suggested.
  19. Rafiq MK, Bachmann RT, Rafiq MT, Shang Z, Joseph S, Long R
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0156894.
    PMID: 27327870 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156894
    This study examined the influence of pyrolysis temperature on biochar characteristics and evaluated its suitability for carbon capture and energy production. Biochar was produced from corn stover using slow pyrolysis at 300, 400 and 500°C and 2 hrs holding time. The experimental biochars were characterized by elemental analysis, BET, FTIR, TGA/DTA, NMR (C-13). Higher heating value (HHV) of feedstock and biochars was measured using bomb calorimeter. Results show that carbon content of corn stover biochar increased from 45.5% to 64.5%, with increasing pyrolysis temperatures. A decrease in H:C and O:C ratios as well as volatile matter, coupled with increase in the concentration of aromatic carbon in the biochar as determined by FTIR and NMR (C-13) demonstrates a higher biochar carbon stability at 500°C. It was estimated that corn stover pyrolysed at 500°C could provide of 10.12 MJ/kg thermal energy. Pyrolysis is therefore a potential technology with its carbon-negative, energy positive and soil amendment benefits thus creating win- win scenario.
  20. Kumar S, Ratnavelu K
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(6):e0157633.
    PMID: 27322645 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157633
    Scholars (n = 580) from 69 countries who had contributed articles in the field of Economics during the year 2015 participated in a survey that gauged their perceptions of various aspects of co-authorship, including its benefits, motivations, working relationships, order of authorship and association preferences. Among the main findings, significant differences emerged in the proportion of co-authored papers based on age, gender and number of years the researchers had spent in their present institution. Female scholars had a greater proportion of co-authored papers than male scholars. Respondents considered improved quality of paper, contribution of mutual expertise, and division of labor as the biggest benefits of and motivation for co-authorship. Contrary to common perceptions that Economics researchers used a predominantly alphabetical order of authorship, our study found that a considerable percentage of respondents (34.5%) had practiced an order of authorship based on the significance of the authors' contribution to the work. The relative importance of tasks differed significantly according to whether researchers co-authored as mentors or co-authored as colleagues. Lastly, researchers were found to associate, to varying degrees, with other researchers based on socio-academic parameters, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, professional position and friendship. The study indicates that Economics authors perceive co-authorship as a rewarding endeavor. Nonetheless, the level of contribution and even the choice of association itself as a co-author depends to a great extent on the type of working relationship and socio-academic factors.
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