Displaying publications 1 - 20 of 2379 in total

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Liew KJ, Ramli A, Abd Majid A
    PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0156724.
    PMID: 27315105 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156724
    This paper examines the application of a bootstrap test error estimation of radial basis functions, specifically thin-plate spline fitting, in surface smoothing. The presence of noisy data is a common issue of the point set model that is generated from 3D scanning devices, and hence, point set denoising is one of the main concerns in point set modelling. Bootstrap test error estimation, which is applied when searching for the smoothing parameters of radial basis functions, is revisited. The main contribution of this paper is a smoothing algorithm that relies on a bootstrap-based radial basis function. The proposed method incorporates a k-nearest neighbour search and then projects the point set to the approximated thin-plate spline surface. Therefore, the denoising process is achieved, and the features are well preserved. A comparison of the proposed method with other smoothing methods is also carried out in this study.
  5. N Ahmed M, Abdullah AH, Kaiwartya O
    PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0156885.
    PMID: 27285146 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156885
    Due to the continuous advancements in wireless communication in terms of quality of communication and affordability of the technology, the application area of Mobile Adhoc Networks (MANETs) significantly growing particularly in military and disaster management. Considering the sensitivity of the application areas, security in terms of detection of Denial of Service (DoS) and intrusion has become prime concern in research and development in the area. The security systems suggested in the past has state recognition problem where the system is not able to accurately identify the actual state of the network nodes due to the absence of clear definition of states of the nodes. In this context, this paper proposes a framework based on Finite State Machine (FSM) for denial of service and intrusion detection in MANETs. In particular, an Interruption Detection system for Adhoc On-demand Distance Vector (ID-AODV) protocol is presented based on finite state machine. The packet dropping and sequence number attacks are closely investigated and detection systems for both types of attacks are designed. The major functional modules of ID-AODV includes network monitoring system, finite state machine and attack detection model. Simulations are carried out in network simulator NS-2 to evaluate the performance of the proposed framework. A comparative evaluation of the performance is also performed with the state-of-the-art techniques: RIDAN and AODV. The performance evaluations attest the benefits of proposed framework in terms of providing better security for denial of service and intrusion detection attacks.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Kuan CS, Ismail R, Kwan Z, Yew SM, Yeo SK, Chan CL, et al.
    PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0156119.
    PMID: 27280438 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156119
    A yeast-like organism was isolated from the skin scraping sample of a stasis dermatitis patient in the Mycology Unit Department of Medical Microbiology, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The isolate produced no pigment and was not identifiable using chromogenic agar and API 20C AUX. The fungus was identified as Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034, which is close to that of Metschnikowia drosophilae based on ITS- and D1/D2 domain-based phylogenetic analysis. However, the physiology of the strain was not associated to M. drosophilae. This pathogen exhibited low sensitivity to all tested azoles, echinocandins, 5-flucytosine and amphotericin B. This study provided insight into Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034 phenotype profiles using a Biolog phenotypic microarray (PM). The isolate utilized 373 nutrients of 760 nutrient sources and could adapt to a broad range of osmotic and pH environments. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the isolation of Metschnikowia non-pulcherrima sp. from skin scraping, revealing this rare yeast species as a potential human pathogen that may be misidentified as Candida sp. using conventional methods. Metschnikowia sp. strain UM 1034 can survive in flexible and diverse environments with a generalist lifestyle.
  9. Abram NK, MacMillan DC, Xofis P, Ancrenaz M, Tzanopoulos J, Ong R, et al.
    PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0156481.
    PMID: 27276218 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156481
    Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) aims to avoid forest conversion to alternative land-uses through financial incentives. Oil-palm has high opportunity costs, which according to current literature questions the financial competitiveness of REDD+ in tropical lowlands. To understand this more, we undertook regional fine-scale and coarse-scale analyses (through carbon mapping and economic modelling) to assess the financial viability of REDD+ in safeguarding unprotected forest (30,173 ha) in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in Malaysian Borneo. Results estimate 4.7 million metric tons of carbon (MgC) in unprotected forest, with 64% allocated for oil-palm cultivations. Through fine-scale mapping and carbon accounting, we demonstrated that REDD+ can outcompete oil-palm in regions with low suitability, with low carbon prices and low carbon stock. In areas with medium oil-palm suitability, REDD+ could outcompete oil palm in areas with: very high carbon and lower carbon price; medium carbon price and average carbon stock; or, low carbon stock and high carbon price. Areas with high oil palm suitability, REDD+ could only outcompete with higher carbon price and higher carbon stock. In the coarse-scale model, oil-palm outcompeted REDD+ in all cases. For the fine-scale models at the landscape level, low carbon offset prices (US $3 MgCO2e) would enable REDD+ to outcompete oil-palm in 55% of the unprotected forests requiring US $27 million to secure these areas for 25 years. Higher carbon offset price (US $30 MgCO2e) would increase the competitiveness of REDD+ within the landscape but would still only capture between 69%-74% of the unprotected forest, requiring US $380-416 million in carbon financing. REDD+ has been identified as a strategy to mitigate climate change by many countries (including Malaysia). Although REDD+ in certain scenarios cannot outcompete oil palm, this research contributes to the global REDD+ debate by: highlighting REDD+ competitiveness in tropical floodplain landscapes; and, providing a robust approach for identifying and targeting limited REDD+ funds.
  10. Abdul Manaf MR, Mustafa M, Abdul Rahman MR, Yusof KH, Abd Aziz NA
    PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0156937.
    PMID: 27280529 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156937
    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Mental health problems are common in old age, but frequently remain undetected and untreated. Mental health problems in the elderly are the result of a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of mental health problems (depression, anxiety, and emotional stress) and their associated factors among the Malay elderly in a rural community of Perak, Malaysia.

    METHODS: It was a cross-sectional study. The Malay elderly aged 60 years and above were selected through convenient sampling to give a total of 230 respondents. The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) was used to assess the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Bivariate analyses were performed using chi-square tests and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between the factors and each of the mental health statuses assessed.

    RESULTS: The results showed that the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress among the elderly respondents was 27.8%, 22.6%, and 8.7%, respectively. The significant factors for depression were single elderly (Adjusted OR = 3.27, 95%CI 1.66, 6.44), living with family (Adjusted OR = 4.98, 95%CI 2.05, 12.10), and poor general health status (Adjusted OR = 2.28, 95%CI 1.20, 4.36). Living with family was the only significant factor for anxiety (Adjusted OR = 2.68, 95%CI 1.09, 6.57). There was no significant factor for stress.

    CONCLUSIONS: Depression and anxiety among the Malay elderly in the rural community were very worrying. More equity in health should be created or strengthened in order to intensify the opportunity to identify, diagnose, and treat those with mental health problems. Living arrangement in the rural community was an important factor that had influenced depression and anxiety. Therefore, further research is recommended for more comprehensive information, as a result of which appropriate intervention can be made.

  11. Fransen HP, Peeters PH, Beulens JW, Boer JM, de Wit GA, Onland-Moret NC, et al.
    PLoS One, 2016;11(5):e0156609.
    PMID: 27244088 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156609
    BACKGROUND: A healthy diet is important for normal growth and development. Exposure to undernutrition during important developmental periods such as childhood and adolescence can have effects later in life. Inhabitants of the west of the Netherlands were exposed to severe undernutrition during the famine in the last winter of the second World War (1944-1945).

    OBJECTIVE: We investigated if exposure of women to the Dutch famine during childhood and adolescence was associated with an unhealthy lifestyle later in life.

    DESIGN: We studied 7,525 women from the Prospect-EPIC cohort, recruited in 1993-97 and aged 0-18 years during the Dutch famine. An individual famine score was calculated based on self-reported information about experience of hunger and weight loss. We investigated the association between famine exposure in early life and four lifestyle factors in adulthood: smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity level and a Mediterranean-style diet.

    RESULTS: Of the 7,525 included women, 46% were unexposed, 38% moderately exposed and 16% severely exposed to the Dutch famine. Moderately and severely exposed women were more often former or current smokers compared to women that did not suffer from the famine: adjusted prevalence ratio 1.10 (95% CI: 1.05; 1.14) and 1.18 (1.12; 1.25), respectively. They also smoked more pack years than unexposed women. Severely exposed women were more often physically inactive than unexposed women, adjusted prevalence ratio 1.32 (1.06; 1.64). Results did not differ between exposure age categories (0-9 and 10-17 years). We found no associations of famine exposure with alcohol consumption and no dose-dependent relations with diet.

    CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to famine early in female life may be associated with higher prevalence of smoking and physical inactivity later in life, but not with unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption.

  12. Heinrichs J, Scheben A, Bechteler J, Lee GE, Schäfer-Verwimp A, Hedenäs L, et al.
    PLoS One, 2016;11(5):e0156301.
    PMID: 27244582 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156301
    Cambay amber originates from the warmest period of the Eocene, which is also well known for the appearance of early angiosperm-dominated megathermal forests. The humid climate of these forests may have triggered the evolution of epiphytic lineages of bryophytes; however, early Eocene fossils of bryophytes are rare. Here, we present evidence for lejeuneoid liverworts and pleurocarpous mosses in Cambay amber. The preserved morphology of the moss fossil is inconclusive for a detailed taxonomic treatment. The liverwort fossil is, however, distinctive; its zig-zagged stems, suberect complicate-bilobed leaves, large leaf lobules, and small, deeply bifid underleaves suggest a member of Lejeuneaceae subtribe Lejeuneinae (Harpalejeunea, Lejeunea, Microlejeunea). We tested alternative classification possibilities by conducting divergence time estimates based on DNA sequence variation of Lejeuneinae using the age of the fossil for corresponding age constraints. Consideration of the fossil as a stem group member of Microlejeunea or Lejeunea resulted in an Eocene to Late Cretaceous age of the Lejeuneinae crown group. This reconstruction is in good accordance with published divergence time estimates generated without the newly presented fossil evidence. Balancing available evidence, we describe the liverwort fossil as the extinct species Microlejeunea nyiahae, representing the oldest crown group fossil of Lejeuneaceae.
  13. Al-Majedy YK, Al-Amiery AA, Kadhum AA, Mohamad AB
    PLoS One, 2016;11(5):e0156625.
    PMID: 27243231 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156625
    The synthesis of derivatives of 4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MUs), which are structurally interesting antioxidants, was performed in this study. The modification of 4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MU) by different reaction steps was performed to yield the target compounds, the 4-MUs. The 4-MUs were characterized by different spectroscopic techniques (Fourier transform infrared; FT-IR and Nuclear magnetic resonance; NMR) and micro-elemental analysis (CHNS). The in vitro antioxidant activity of the 4-MUs was evaluated in terms of their free radical scavenging activities against 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), Nitric oxide radical scavenging activity assay, chelating activity and their (FRAP) ferric-reducing antioxidant power, which were compared with a standard antioxidant. Our results reveal that the 4-MUs exhibit excellent radical scavenging activities. The antioxidant mechanisms of the 4-MUs were also studied. Density Function Theory (DFT)-based quantum chemical studies were performed with the basis set at 3-21G. Molecular models of the synthesized compounds were studied to understand the antioxidant activity. The electron levels, namely HOMO (highest occupied molecular orbital) and LUMO (lowest unoccupied molecular orbital), for these synthesized antioxidants were also studied.
  14. Abdi A, Idris N, Alguliyev RM, Aliguliyev RM
    PLoS One, 2016;11(1):e0145809.
    PMID: 26735139 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145809
    Summarization is a process to select important information from a source text. Summarizing strategies are the core cognitive processes in summarization activity. Since summarization can be important as a tool to improve comprehension, it has attracted interest of teachers for teaching summary writing through direct instruction. To do this, they need to review and assess the students' summaries and these tasks are very time-consuming. Thus, a computer-assisted assessment can be used to help teachers to conduct this task more effectively.
  15. Ali SA, Teow SY, Omar TC, Khoo AS, Choon TS, Yusoff NM
    PLoS One, 2016;11(1):e0145986.
    PMID: 26741963 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145986
    There remains a need for newer therapeutic approaches to combat HIV/AIDS. Viral capsid protein p24 plays important roles in HIV pathogenesis. Peptides and small molecule inhibitors targeting p24 have shown to inhibit virus replication in treated cell. High specificity and biological stability of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) make them an attractive contender for in vivo treatments. However, mAbs do not enter into cells, thus are restricted to target surface molecules. This also makes targeting intracellular HIV-1 p24 a challenge. A mAb specific to p24 that can internalize into the HIV-infected cells is hypothesized to inhibit the virus replication. We selected a mAb that has previously shown to inhibit p24 polymerization in an in vitro assay and chemically conjugated it with cell penetrating peptides (CPP) to generate cell internalizing anti-p24 mAbs. Out of 8 CPPs tested, κFGF-MTS -conjugated mAbs internalized T cells most efficiently. At nontoxic concentration, the κFGF-MTS-anti-p24-mAbs reduced the HIV-1 replication up to 73 and 49% in T-lymphocyte and PBMCs respectively. Marked inhibition of HIV-1 replication in relevant cells by κFGF-MTS-anti-p24-mAbs represents a viable strategy to target HIV proteins present inside the cells.
  16. Khor KH, Moore TA, Shiels IA, Greer RM, Arumugam TV, Mills PC
    PLoS One, 2016;11(1):e0146022.
    PMID: 26727203 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146022
    PURPOSE: Inflammation may contribute to the pathogenesis of specific cardiovascular diseases, but it is uncertain if mediators released during the inflammatory process will affect the continued efficacy of drugs used to treat clinical signs of the cardiac disease. We investigated the role of the complement 5a receptor 1 (C5aR1/CD88) in the cardiac response to inflammation or atenolol, and the effect of C5aR1 deletion in control of baseline heart rate in an anesthetized mouse model.

    METHODS: An initial study showed that PMX53, an antagonist of C5aR1 in normal C57BL6/J (wild type, WT) mice reduced heart rate (HR) and appeared to have a protective effect on the heart following induced sepsis. C5aR1 knockout (CD88-/-) mice had a lower HR than wild type mice, even during sham surgery. A model to assess heart rate variability (HRV) in anesthetized mice was developed to assess the effects of inhibiting the β1-adrenoreceptor (β1-AR) in a randomized crossover study design.

    RESULTS: HR and LF Norm were constitutively lower and SDNN and HF Norm constitutively higher in the CD88-/- compared with WT mice (P< 0.001 for all outcomes). Administration of atenolol (2.5 mg/kg) reduced the HR and increased HRV (P< 0.05, respectively) in the wild type but not in the CD88-/- mice. There was no shift of the sympathovagal balance post-atenolol in either strains of mice (P> 0.05), except for the reduced LF/HF (Lower frequency/High frequency) ratio (P< 0.05) at 60 min post-atenolol, suggesting increased parasympathetic tone of the heart due to the effect of atenolol administration. The HR of the WT mice were lower post atenolol compared to the CD88-/- mice (P = 0.001) but the HRV of CD88-/- mice were significantly increased (P< 0.05), compared with WT mice.

    CONCLUSION: Knockout of the C5aR1 attenuated the effect of β1-AR in the heart, suggesting an association between the β1-AR and C5aR1, although further investigation is required to determine if this is a direct or causal association.

  17. Kuan CS, Yew SM, Toh YF, Chan CL, Lim SK, Lee KW, et al.
    PLoS One, 2015;10(12):e0145932.
    PMID: 26716988 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145932
    Peritonitis is the leading complication of peritoneal dialysis, which is primarily caused by bacteria rather than fungi. Peritonitis is responsible for approximately 18% of the infection-related mortality in peritoneal dialysis patients. In this paper, we report the isolation of a rare fungus, Quambalaria cyanescens, from the peritoneal fluid of a man after he switched from continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis to nocturnal intermittent peritoneal dialysis. Based on the morphological examination and multigene phylogeny, the clinical isolate was confirmed as Q. cyanescens. This pathogen exhibited low sensitivity to all tested echinocandins and 5-flucytosine. Interestingly, morphological characterization revealed that Q. cyanescens UM 1095 produced different pigments at low temperatures (25°C and 30°C) on various culture media. It is important to monitor the emergence of this rare fungus as a potential human pathogen in the tropics. This study provides insight into Q. cyanescens UM 1095 phenotype profiles using a Biolog phenotypic microarray (PM). Of the 760 nutrient sources tested, Q. cyanescens UM 1095 utilized 42 compounds, and the fungus can adapt to a broad range of osmotic and acidic environments. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the isolation of Q. cyanescens from peritoneal fluid, revealing this rare fungus as a potential human pathogen that may be misidentified using conventional methods. The detailed morphological, molecular and phenotypic characterization of Q. cyanescens UM 1095 provides the basis for future studies on its biology, lifestyle, and potential pathogenicity.
  18. Khor WC, Puah SM, Tan JA, Puthucheary SD, Chua KH
    PLoS One, 2015;10(12):e0145933.
    PMID: 26710336 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145933
    Gram-negative bacilli of the genus Aeromonas are primarily inhabitants of the aquatic environment. Humans acquire this organism from a wide range of food and water sources as well as during aquatic recreational activities. In the present study, the diversity and distribution of Aeromonas species from freshwater lakes in Malaysia was investigated using glycerophospholipid-cholesterol acyltransferase (GCAT) and RNA polymerase sigma-factor (rpoD) genes for speciation. A total of 122 possible Aeromonas strains were isolated and confirmed to genus level using the API20E system. The clonality of the isolates was investigated using ERIC-PCR and 20 duplicate isolates were excluded from the study. The specific GCAT-PCR identified all isolates as belonging to the genus Aeromonas, in agreement with the biochemical identification. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using the rpoD gene sequence and all 102 isolates were identified as: A. veronii 43%, A. jandaei 37%, A. hydrophila 6%, A. caviae 4%, A. salmonicida 2%, A. media 2%, A. allosaccharophila 1%, A. dhakensis 1% and Aeromonas spp. 4%. Twelve virulence genes were present in the following proportions--exu 96%, ser 93%, aer 87%, fla 83%, enolase 70%, ela 62%, act 54%, aexT 33%, lip 16%, dam 16%, alt 8% and ast 4%, and at least 2 of these genes were present in all 102 strains. The ascV, aexU and hlyA genes were not detected among the isolates. A. hydrophila was the main species containing virulence genes alt and ast either present alone or in combination. It is possible that different mechanisms may be used by each genospecies to demonstrate virulence. In summary, with the use of GCAT and rpoD genes, unambiguous identification of Aeromonas species is possible and provides valuable data on the phylogenetic diversity of the organism.
  19. Murugan D, Lau YS, Lau CW, Lau WC, Mustafa MR, Huang Y
    PLoS One, 2015;10(12):e0145413.
    PMID: 26709511 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145413
    Angiotensin 1-7 (Ang 1-7) counter-regulates the cardiovascular actions of angiotensin II (Ang II). The present study investigated the protective effect of Ang 1-7 against Ang II-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and endothelial dysfunction. Ex vivo treatment with Ang II (0.5 μM, 24 hours) impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in mouse aortas; this harmful effect of Ang II was reversed by co-treatment with ER stress inhibitors, l4-phenylbutyric acid (PBA) and tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) as well as Ang 1-7. The Mas receptor antagonist, A779, antagonized the effect of Ang 1-7. The elevated mRNA expression of CHOP, Grp78 and ATF4 or protein expression of p-eIF2α and ATF6 (ER stress markers) in Ang II-treated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and mouse aortas were blunted by co-treatment with Ang 1-7 and the latter effect was reversed by A779. Furthermore, Ang II-induced reduction in both eNOS phosphorylation and NO production was inhibited by Ang 1-7. In addition, Ang 1-7 decreased the levels of ER stress markers and augmented NO production in HUVECs treated with ER stress inducer, tunicamycin. The present study provides new evidence for functional antagonism between the two arms of the renin-angiotensin system in endothelial cells by demonstrating that Ang 1-7 ameliorates Ang II-stimulated ER stress to raise NO bioavailability, and subsequently preserves endothelial function.
  20. Rad SK, Kanthimathi MS, Abd Malek SN, Lee GS, Looi CY, Wong WF
    PLoS One, 2015;10(12):e0145216.
    PMID: 26700476 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145216
    BACKGROUND: Cinnamomum cassia bark is a popular culinary spice used for flavoring and in traditional medicine. C. cassia extract (CE) induces apoptosis in many cell lines. In the present study, particular differences in the mechanism of the anti-proliferative property of C. cassia on two breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, were elucidated.

    METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The hexane extract of C. cassia demonstrated high anti-proliferative activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells (IC50, 34 ± 3.52 and 32.42 ± 0.37 μg/ml, respectively). Oxidative stress due to disruption of antioxidant enzyme (SOD, GPx and CAT) activity is suggested as the probable cause for apoptosis initiation. Though the main apoptosis pathway in both cell lines was found to be through caspase-8 activation, caspase-9 was also activated in MDA-MB-231 cells but suppressed in MCF-7 cells. Gene expression studies revealed that AKT1, the caspase-9 suppressor, was up-regulated in MCF-7 cells while down-regulated in MDA-MB-231 cells. Although, AKT1 protein expression in both cell lines was down-regulated, a steady increase in MCF-7 cells was observed after a sharp decrease of suppression of AKT1. Trans-cinnamaldehyde and coumarin were isolated and identified and found to be mainly responsible for the observed anti-proliferative activity of CE (Cinnamomum cassia).

    CONCLUSION: Activation of caspase-8 is reported for the first time to be involved as the main apoptosis pathway in breast cancer cell lines upon treatment with C. cassia. The double effects of C. cassia on AKT1 gene expression in MCF-7 cells is reported for the first time in this study.

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