Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 43

Search results for: Louis CH Fourie

13 Phenology and Size in the Social Sweat Bee, Halictus ligatus, in an Urban Environment

Authors: Rachel A. Brant, Grace E. Kenny, Paige A. Muñiz, Gerardo R. Camilo

Abstract:

The social sweat bee, Halictus ligatus, has been documented to alter its phenology as a response to changes in temporal dynamics of resources. Furthermore, H. ligatus exhibits polyethism in natural environments as a consequence of the variation in resources. Yet, we do not know if or how H. ligatus responds to these variations in urban environments. As urban environments become much more widespread, and human population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, it is crucial to distinguish how resources are allocated by bees in cities. We hypothesize that in urban regions, where floral availability varies with human activity, H. ligatus will exhibit polyethism in order to match the extremely localized spatial variability of resources. We predict that in an urban setting, where resources vary both spatially and temporally, the phenology of H. ligatus will alter in response to these fluctuations. This study was conducted in Saint Louis, Missouri, at fifteen sites each varying in size and management type (community garden, urban farm, prairie restoration). Bees were collected by hand netting from 2013-2016. Results suggest that the largest individuals, mostly gynes, occurred in lower income neighborhood community gardens in May and August. We used a model averaging procedure, based on information theoretical methods, to determine a best model for predicting bee size. Our results suggest that month and locality within the city are the best predictors of bee size. Halictus ligatus was observed to comply with the predictions of polyethism from 2013 to 2015. However, in 2016 there was an almost complete absence of the smallest worker castes. This is a significant deviation from what is expected under polyethism. This could be attributed to shifts in planting decisions, shifts in plant-pollinator matches, or local climatic conditions. Further research is needed to determine if this divergence from polyethism is a new strategy for the social sweat bee as climate continues to alter or a response to human dominated landscapes.

Keywords: Urban Environment, phenology, polyethism, social sweat bee

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12 3D Microscopy, Image Processing, and Analysis of Lymphangiogenesis in Biological Models

Authors: Thomas Louis, Irina Primac, Florent Morfoisse, Tania Durre, Silvia Blacher, Agnes Noel

Abstract:

In vitro and in vivo lymphangiogenesis assays are essential for the identification of potential lymphangiogenic agents and the screening of pharmacological inhibitors. In the present study, we analyse three biological models: in vitro lymphatic endothelial cell spheroids, in vivo ear sponge assay, and in vivo lymph node colonisation by tumour cells. These assays provide suitable 3D models to test pro- and anti-lymphangiogenic factors or drugs. 3D images were acquired by confocal laser scanning and light sheet fluorescence microscopy. Virtual scan microscopy followed by 3D reconstruction by image aligning methods was also used to obtain 3D images of whole large sponge and ganglion samples. 3D reconstruction, image segmentation, skeletonisation, and other image processing algorithms are described. Fixed and time-lapse imaging techniques are used to analyse lymphatic endothelial cell spheroids behaviour. The study of cell spatial distribution in spheroid models enables to detect interactions between cells and to identify invasion hierarchy and guidance patterns. Global measurements such as volume, length, and density of lymphatic vessels are measured in both in vivo models. Branching density and tortuosity evaluation are also proposed to determine structure complexity. Those properties combined with vessel spatial distribution are evaluated in order to determine lymphangiogenesis extent. Lymphatic endothelial cell invasion and lymphangiogenesis were evaluated under various experimental conditions. The comparison of these conditions enables to identify lymphangiogenic agents and to better comprehend their roles in the lymphangiogenesis process. The proposed methodology is validated by its application on the three presented models.

Keywords: Confocal microscopy, Lymph Nodes, spheroids, cell invasion, ear sponges, light sheet microscopy, lymphangiogenesis

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11 Engineering Properties of Different Lithological Varieties of a Singapore Granite

Authors: Louis Ngai Yuen Wong, Varun Maruvanchery

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The Bukit Timah Granite, which is a major rock formation in Singapore, encompasses different rock types such as granite, adamellite, and granodiorite with various hybrid rocks. The present study focuses on the Central Singapore Granite found in the Mandai area. Even within this small aerial extent, lithological variations with respect to the composition, texture as well as the grain size have been recognized in this igneous body. Over the years, the research effort on the Bukit Timah Granite has been focused on achieving a better understanding of its engineering properties in association with civil engineering projects. To our best understanding, a few types of research attempted to systematically investigate the influence of grain size, mineral composition, texture etc. on the strength of Bukit Timah Granite rocks in a comprehensive manner. In typical local industry practices, the different lithological varieties are not differentiated, but all are grouped under Bukit Timah Granite during core logging and the subsequent determination of engineering properties. To address such a major gap in the local engineering geological practice, a preliminary study is conducted on the variations of uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) in seven distinctly different lithological varieties found in the Bukit Timah Granite. Other physical properties including Young’s modulus, P-wave velocity and dry density determined from laboratory testing will also be discussed. The study is supplemented by a petrographical thin section examination. In addition, the specimen failure mode is classified and further correlated with the lithological varieties by carefully observing the details of crack initiation, propagation and coalescence processes in the specimens undergoing loading tests using a high-speed camera. The outcome of this research, which is the first of its type in Singapore, will have a direct implication on the sampling and design practices in the field of civil engineering and particularly underground space development in Singapore.

Keywords: failure mode, Bukit Timah Granite, lithological variety, thin section study, high speed video

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10 N-Glycosylation in the Green Microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Authors: Pierre-Louis Lucas, Corinne Loutelier-Bourhis, Narimane Mati-Baouche, Philippe Chan Tchi-Song, Patrice Lerouge, Elodie Mathieu-Rivet, Muriel Bardor

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N-glycosylation is a post-translational modification taking place in the Endoplasmic Reticulum and the Golgi apparatus where defined glycan features are added on protein in a very specific sequence Asn-X-Thr/Ser/Cys were X can be any amino acid except proline. Because it is well-established that those N-glycans play a critical role in protein biological activity, protein half-life and that a different N-glycan structure may induce an immune response, they are very important in Biopharmaceuticals which are mainly glycoproteins bearing N-glycans. From now, most of the biopharmaceuticals are produced by mammalian cells like Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO) for their N-glycosylation similar to the human, but due to the high production costs, several other species are investigated as the possible alternative system. In this purpose, the green microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was investigated as the potential production system for Biopharmaceuticals. This choice was influenced by the facts that C. reinhardtii is a well-study microalgae which is growing fast with a lot of molecular biology tools available. This organism is also producing N-glycan on its endogenous proteins. However, the analysis of the N-glycan structure of this microalgae has revealed some differences as compared to the human. Rather than in Human where the glycans are processed by key enzymes called N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase I and II (GnTI and GnTII) adding GlcNAc residue to form a GlcNAc₂Man₃GlcNAc₂ core N-glycan, C. reinhardtii lacks those two enzymes and possess a GnTI independent glycosylation pathway. Moreover, some enzymes like xylosyltransferases and methyltransferases not present in human are supposed to act on the glycans of C. reinhardtii. Furthermore, the recent structural study by mass spectrometry shows that the N-glycosylation precursor supposed to be conserved in almost all eukaryotic cells results in a linear Man₅GlcNAc₂ rather than a branched one in C. reinhardtii. In this work, we will discuss the new released MS information upon C. reinhardtii N-glycan structure and their impact on our attempt to modify the glycan in a Human manner. Two strategies will be discussed. The first one consisted in the study of Xylosyltransferase insertional mutants from the CLIP library in order to remove xyloses from the N-glycans. The second will go further in the humanization by transforming the microalgae with the exogenous gene from Toxoplasma gondii having an activity similar to GnTI and GnTII with the aim to synthesize GlcNAc₂Man₃GlcNAc₂ in C. reinhardtii.

Keywords: Mass Spectrometry, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, humanization, N-glycosylation, glycosyltransferase

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9 Sedimentary, Diagenesis and Evaluation of High Quality Reservoir of Coarse Clastic Rocks in Nearshore Deep Waters in the Dongying Sag; Bohai Bay Basin

Authors: Kouassi Louis Kra

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The nearshore deep-water gravity flow deposits in the Northern steep slope of Dongying depression, Bohai Bay basin, have been acknowledged as important reservoirs in the rift lacustrine basin. These deep strata term as coarse clastic sediment, deposit at the root of the slope have complex depositional processes and involve wide diagenetic events which made high-quality reservoir prediction to be complex. Based on the integrated study of seismic interpretation, sedimentary analysis, petrography, cores samples, wireline logging data, 3D seismic and lithological data, the reservoir formation mechanism deciphered. The Geoframe software was used to analyze 3-D seismic data to interpret the stratigraphy and build a sequence stratigraphic framework. Thin section identification, point counts were performed to assess the reservoir characteristics. The software PetroMod 1D of Schlumberger was utilized for the simulation of burial history. CL and SEM analysis were performed to reveal diagenesis sequences. Backscattered electron (BSE) images were recorded for definition of the textural relationships between diagenetic phases. The result showed that the nearshore steep slope deposits mainly consist of conglomerate, gravel sandstone, pebbly sandstone and fine sandstone interbedded with mudstone. The reservoir is characterized by low-porosity and ultra-low permeability. The diagenesis reactions include compaction, precipitation of calcite, dolomite, kaolinite, quartz cement and dissolution of feldspars and rock fragment. The main types of reservoir space are primary intergranular pores, residual intergranular pores, intergranular dissolved pores, intergranular dissolved pores, and fractures. There are three obvious anomalous high-porosity zones in the reservoir. Overpressure and early hydrocarbon filling are the main reason for abnormal secondary pores development. Sedimentary facies control the formation of high-quality reservoir, oil and gas filling preserves secondary pores from late carbonate cementation.

Keywords: formation mechanism, Bohai Bay, Dongying Sag, deep strata, high-quality reservoir

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8 Relations between the Internal Employment Conditions of International Organizations and the Characteristics of the National Civil Service

Authors: Renata Hrecska

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This research seeks to fully examine the internal employment law of international organizations by comparing it with the characteristics of the national civil service. The aim of the research is to compare the legal system that has developed over many centuries and the relatively new internal staffing regulations to find out what solution schemes can help each other through mutual legal development in order to respond effectively to the social challenges of everyday life. Generally, the rules of civil service of any country or international entity have in common that they have, in their pragmatics inherently, the characteristic that makes them serving public interests. Though behind the common base there are many differences: there is the clear fragmentation of state regulation and the unity of organizational regulation. On the other hand, however, this difference disappears to some extent: the public service regulation of international organizations can be considered uniform until we examine it within, but not outside an organization. As soon as we compare the different organizations we may find many different solutions for staffing regulations. It is clear that the national civil service is a strong model for international organizations, but the question may be whether the staffing policy of international organizations can serve the national civil service as an example, too. In this respect, the easiest way to imagine a legislative environment would be to have a single comprehensive code, the general part of which is the Civil Service Act itself, and the specific part containing specific, necessarily differentiating rules for each layer of the civil service. Would it be advantageous to follow the footsteps of the leading international organizations, or is there any speciality in national level civil service that we cannot avoid during regulating processes? In addition to the above, the personal competencies of officials working in international organizations and public administrations also show a high degree of similarity, regardless of the type of employment. Thus, the whole public service system is characterized by the fundamental and special values that a person capable of holding a public office must be able to demonstrate, in some cases, even without special qualifications. It is also interesting how we can compare the two spheres of employment in light of the theory of Lawyer Louis Brandeis, a judge at the US Supreme Court, who formulated a complex theory of profession as distinguished from other occupations. From this point of view we can examine the continuous development of research and specialized knowledge at work; the community recognition and social status; that to what extent we can see a close-knit professional organization of altruistic philosophy; that how stability grows in the working conditions due to the stability of the profession; and that how the autonomy of the profession can prevail.

Keywords: International Organizations, Comparative Law, civil service, regulatory systems

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7 A Robust Optimization of Chassis Durability/Comfort Compromise Using Chebyshev Polynomial Chaos Expansion Method

Authors: Hanwei Gao, Louis Jezequel, Eric Cabrol, Bernard Vitry

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The chassis system is composed of complex elements that take up all the loads from the tire-ground contact area and thus it plays an important role in numerous specifications such as durability, comfort, crash, etc. During the development of new vehicle projects in Renault, durability validation is always the main focus while deployment of comfort comes later in the project. Therefore, sometimes design choices have to be reconsidered because of the natural incompatibility between these two specifications. Besides, robustness is also an important point of concern as it is related to manufacturing costs as well as the performance after the ageing of components like shock absorbers. In this paper an approach is proposed aiming to realize a multi-objective optimization between chassis endurance and comfort while taking the random factors into consideration. The adaptive-sparse polynomial chaos expansion method (PCE) with Chebyshev polynomial series has been applied to predict responses’ uncertainty intervals of a system according to its uncertain-but-bounded parameters. The approach can be divided into three steps. First an initial design of experiments is realized to build the response surfaces which represent statistically a black-box system. Secondly within several iterations an optimum set is proposed and validated which will form a Pareto front. At the same time the robustness of each response, served as additional objectives, is calculated from the pre-defined parameter intervals and the response surfaces obtained in the first step. Finally an inverse strategy is carried out to determine the parameters’ tolerance combination with a maximally acceptable degradation of the responses in terms of manufacturing costs. A quarter car model has been tested as an example by applying the road excitations from the actual road measurements for both endurance and comfort calculations. One indicator based on the Basquin’s law is defined to compare the global chassis durability of different parameter settings. Another indicator related to comfort is obtained from the vertical acceleration of the sprung mass. An optimum set with best robustness has been finally obtained and the reference tests prove a good robustness prediction of Chebyshev PCE method. This example demonstrates the effectiveness and reliability of the approach, in particular its ability to save computational costs for a complex system.

Keywords: Multi-objective optimization, robust design, ride comfort, Chebyshev polynomials, polynomial chaos expansion, chassis durability

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6 Trauma inside and Out: A Descriptive Cross-Sectional Study of Family, Community and Psychological Wellbeing amongst Pediatric Victims of Interpersonal Violence

Authors: Margie Batek, Joseph Moen, David Schnadower, Mary Bernardin

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Background: Exposure to violence not only has negative psychological impact on children but is a risk factor for children becoming recurrent victims of violence. However, little is known regarding the degree to which child victims of violence are exposed to trauma at home and in their community, or its association with specific psychological diagnoses. Objective: The aims of this study were to perform in-depth characterizations of family, community and psychological wellness amongst pediatric victims of interpersonal violence. Methods: As standard of care at the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital pediatric emergency department (ED), social workers perform in-depth interviews with all children presenting due to violent interpersonal encounters. In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we collected data from social work interviews on family structure, exposure to violence in the community and the home, as well as history of psychological diagnoses amongst children ages 8-19 years who presented to the ED for injuries related to interpersonal violence from 2014-2017. Results: A total of 407 patients presenting to the ED for an interpersonal violent encounter were analyzed. The average age of studied youths was 14.7 years (SD 2.5). Youths were 97.5% African American ethnicity and 66.6% male. 67.8% described their home having a nonnuclear family structure, 50% of which reported living with a single mother. Of the 21% who reported having incarcerated family members, 56.3% reported their father being incarcerated, 15% reported their mother being incarcerated, and 12.5% reported multiple family members being incarcerated. 11.3% reported witnessing domestic violence in their home. 12.8% of youths reported some form of child abuse. The type of child abuse was not specified in 29.3% of cases, but physical abuse (32.8%) followed by sexual abuse (22.4%) were the most commonly reported. 14.5% had history of placement in foster care and/or adoption. 64% reported having witnessed violence in their community. 30.2% reported having lost friends or family due to violence, and of those, 26.4% reported the loss of a cousin, 18.9% the loss of a friend, 16% the loss of their father, and 12.3% the loss of their brother due to violence. Of the 22.4% youths with psychiatric diagnose(s), 48.4% had multiple diagnoses, the most common of which were ADD/ADHD (62.6%), followed by depression (31.9%), bipolar disorder (27.5%) and anxiety (15.4%). Conclusions: A remarkable proportion of children presenting to EDs due to interpersonal violence have a history of exposure to instability and violence in their homes and communities. Additionally, psychological diagnoses are frequent among pediatric victims of violence. More research is needed to better understand the association between trauma exposure, psychological health and violent victimization amongst children.

Keywords: Emergency Department, pediatric interpersonal violence, community violence, pediatric trauma, psychological effects of trauma

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5 Dual-Layer Microporous Layer of Gas Diffusion Layer for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells under Various RH Conditions

Authors: Grigoria Athanasaki, Veerarajan Vimala, A. M. Kannan, Louis Cindrella

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Energy usage has been increased throughout the years, leading to severe environmental impacts. Since the majority of the energy is currently produced from fossil fuels, there is a global need for clean energy solutions. Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) offer a very promising solution for transportation applications because of their solid configuration and low temperature operations, which allows them to start quickly. One of the main components of PEMFCs is the Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL), which manages water and gas transport and shows direct influence on the fuel cell performance. In this work, a novel dual-layer GDL with gradient porosity was prepared, using polyethylene glycol (PEG) as pore former, to improve the gas diffusion and water management in the system. The microporous layer (MPL) of the fabricated GDL consists of carbon powder PUREBLACK, sodium dodecyl sulfate as a surfactant, 34% wt. PTFE and the gradient porosity was created by applying one layer using 30% wt. PEG on the carbon substrate, followed by a second layer without using any pore former. The total carbon loading of the microporous layer is ~ 3 mg.cm-2. For the assembly of the catalyst layer, Nafion membrane (Ion Power, Nafion Membrane NR211) and Pt/C electrocatalyst (46.1% wt.) were used. The catalyst ink was deposited on the membrane via microspraying technique. The Pt loading is ~ 0.4 mg.cm-2, and the active area is 5 cm2. The sample was ex-situ characterized via wetting angle measurement, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Pore Size Distribution (PSD) to evaluate its characteristics. Furthermore, for the performance evaluation in-situ characterization via Fuel Cell Testing using H2/O2 and H2/air as reactants, under 50, 60, 80, and 100% relative humidity (RH), took place. The results were compared to a single layer GDL, fabricated with the same carbon powder and loading as the dual layer GDL, and a commercially available GDL with MPL (AvCarb2120). The findings reveal high hydrophobic properties of the microporous layer of the GDL for both PUREBLACK based samples, while the commercial GDL demonstrates hydrophilic behavior. The dual layer GDL shows high and stable fuel cell performance under all the RH conditions, whereas the single layer manifests a drop in performance at high RH in both oxygen and air, caused by catalyst flooding. The commercial GDL shows very low and unstable performance, possibly because of its hydrophilic character and thinner microporous layer. In conclusion, the dual layer GDL with PEG appears to have improved gas diffusion and water management in the fuel cell system. Due to its increasing porosity from the catalyst layer to the carbon substrate, it allows easier access of the reactant gases from the flow channels to the catalyst layer, and more efficient water removal from the catalyst layer, leading to higher performance and stability.

Keywords: Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells, gas diffusion layer, relative humidity, microporous layer

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4 On the Question of Ideology: Criticism of the Enlightenment Approach and Theory of Ideology as Objective Force in Gramsci and Althusser

Authors: Edoardo Schinco

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Studying the Marxist intellectual tradition, it is possible to verify that there were numerous cases of philosophical regression, in which the important achievements of detailed studies have been replaced by naïve ideas and previous misunderstandings: one of most important example of this tendency is related to the question of ideology. According to a common Enlightenment approach, the ideology is essentially not a reality, i.e., a factor capable of having an effect on the reality itself; in other words, the ideology is a mere error without specific historical meaning, which is only due to ignorance or inability of subjects to understand the truth. From this point of view, the consequent and immediate practice against every form of ideology are the rational dialogue, the reasoning based on common sense, in order to dispel the obscurity of ignorance through the light of pure reason. The limits of this philosophical orientation are however both theoretical and practical: on the one hand, the Enlightenment criticism of ideology is not an historicistic thought, since it cannot grasp the inner connection that ties an historical context and its peculiar ideology together; moreover, on the other hand, when the Enlightenment approach fails to release people from their illusions (e.g., when the ideology persists, despite the explanation of its illusoriness), it usually becomes a racist or elitarian thought. Unlike this first conception of ideology, Gramsci attempts to recover Marx’s original thought and to valorize its dialectical methodology with respect to the reality of ideology. As Marx suggests, the ideology – in negative meaning – is surely an error, a misleading knowledge, which aims to defense the current state of things and to conceal social, political or moral contradictions; but, that is precisely why the ideological error is not casual: every ideology mediately roots in a particular material context, from which it takes its reason being. Gramsci avoids, however, any mechanistic interpretation of Marx and, for this reason; he underlines the dialectic relation that exists between material base and ideological superstructure; in this way, a specific ideology is not only a passive product of base but also an active factor that reacts on the base itself and modifies it. Therefore, there is a considerable revaluation of ideology’s role in maintenance of status quo and the consequent thematization of both ideology as objective force, active in history, and ideology as cultural hegemony of ruling class on subordinate groups. Among the Marxists, the French philosopher Louis Althusser also gives his contribution to this crucial question; as follower of Gramsci’s thought, he develops the idea of ideology as an objective force through the notions of Repressive State Apparatus (RSA) and Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA). In addition to this, his philosophy is characterized by the presence of structuralist elements, which must be studied, since they deeply change the theoretical foundation of his Marxist thought.

Keywords: Ideology, enlightenment, Althusser, Gramsci

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3 Epididymis in the Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae): Light Microscope Study

Authors: Bruno C. Schimming, Leandro L. Martins, PatríCia F. F. Pinheiro, Raquel F. Domeniconi, FabríCio S. Oliveira

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The agouti is a wildlife rodent that can be used as an alternative source of animal protein and this species has been raised in captivity in Brazil with the aim of providing meat. Thus, the knowledge of their reproductive biology and morphology of the reproductive organs is important. The objective of this study was to describe the morphology of epididymis in the Azara’s agouti, by light microscopy. Samples of epididymis were obtained from five adult Azara’s agouti (Dasyprocta azarae) during castration surgery performed at the Municipal Zoo of Catanduva, Brazil. Fragments of the epididymal regions (initial segment, caput, corpus and cauda) were collected. The biological samples were immediately fixed in paraformaldehyde for 24 hours, followed by histologic procedures comprising embedding in ParaplastTM (Sigma, St. Louis, MO, USA), sections of 5 µm, and staining with HE and Masson’s trichrome. The epididymis was a highly convoluted tubule that links the testis to the vas deferens. The epithelium lining was pseudostratified columnar surrounded by a periductal stroma. The epithelium contains several cell types: principal, basal, apical, clear, and hallo cells. Principal cells were the most abundant cell type. There were observed also migratory cells named halo cells. The caput epididymis was divided into two different regions: initial segment and caput. The initial segment has a very wide lumen, a high epithelium with conspicuous microvilli and the lumen was wide with exfoliated material. The other region of the caput epididymis, showed a lower epithelium when compared with the initial segment, large amounts of spermatozoa in the lumen, and a cytoplasmic vacuolization. This region presented many narrows cells. Many spermatozoa appeared in the lumen of corpus epididymis. The cauda region had a lower epithelium than the other epididymal regions in the agouti. The cauda epithelium presented plicae protruding into the lumen. Large amounts of spermatozoa are also present in the lumen. Small microvilli uniformly arranged so as to form a kind of “brush border” are observed on the apical surface of the cauda epithelium. The pattern of the epithelium lining the duct of the agouti epididymis does not differ greatly from that reported to other mammals, such as domestic and wildlife animals. These findings can cooperate with future investigations especially those related to rational exploration of these animals. All experimental procedures were approved by the institutional ethics committee (CEUA 796/2015). This study was supported by FAPESP (Grants 2015/23822-1).

Keywords: Wildlife, Morphology, epididymis, testis excurrent ducts

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2 Photobleaching Kinetics and Epithelial Distribution of Hexylaminoleuilinate Induced PpIX in Rat Bladder Cancer

Authors: Sami El Khatib, Agnès Leroux, Jean-Louis Merlin, François Guillemin, Marie-Ange D’Hallewin

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Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment modality based on the cytotoxic effect occurring on the target tissues by interaction of a photosensitizer with light in the presence of oxygen. One of the major advances in PDT can be attributed to the use of topical aminolevulinic (ALA) to induce Protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) for the treatment of early stage cancers as well as diagnosis. ALA is a precursor of the heme synthesis pathway. Locally delivered to the target tissue ALA overcomes the negative feedback exerted by heme and promotes the transient formation of PpIX in situ to reach critical effective levels in cells and tissue. Whereas early steps of the heme pathway occur in the cytosol, PpIX synthesis is shown to be held in the mitochondrial membranes and PpIX fluorescence is expected to accumulate in close vicinity of the initial building site and to progressively diffuse to the neighboring cytoplasmic compartment or other lipophylic organelles. PpIX is known to be highly reactive and will be degraded when irradiated with light. PpIX photobleaching is believed to be governed by a singlet oxygen mediated mechanism in the presence of oxidized amino acids and proteins. PpIX photobleaching and subsequent spectral phototransformation were described widely in tumor cells incubated in vitro with ALA solution, or ex vivo in human and porcine mucosa superfused with hexylaminolevulinate (hALA). PpIX photobleaching was also studied in vivo, using animal models such as normal or tumor mice skin and orthotopic rat bladder model. Hexyl aminolevulinate a more potent lipophilic derivative of ALA was proposed as an adjunct to standard cystoscopy in the fluorescence diagnosis of bladder cancer and other malignancies. We have previously reported the effectiveness of hALA mediated PDT of rat bladder cancer. Although normal and tumor bladder epithelium exhibit similar fluorescence intensities after intravesical instillation of two hALA concentrations (8 and 16 mM), the therapeutic response at 8mM and 20J/cm2 was completely different from the one observed at 16mM irradiated with the same light dose. Where the tumor is destroyed, leaving the underlying submucosa and muscle intact after an 8 mM instillation, 16mM sensitization and subsequent illumination results in the complete destruction of the underlying bladder wall but leaves the tumor undamaged. The object of the current study is to try to unravel the underlying mechanism for this apparent contradiction. PpIX extraction showed identical amounts of photosensitizer in tumor bearing bladders at both concentrations. Photobleaching experiments revealed mono-exponential decay curves in both situations but with a two times faster decay constant in case of 16mM bladders. Fluorescence microscopy shows an identical fluorescence pattern for normal bladders at both concentrations and tumor bladders at 8mM with bright spots. Tumor bladders at 16 mM exhibit a more diffuse cytoplasmic fluorescence distribution. The different response to PDT with regard to the initial pro-drug concentration can thus be attributed to the different cellular localization.

Keywords: bladder cancer, hexyl-aminolevulinate, photobleaching, confocal fluorescence microscopy

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1 Cardiolipin-Incorporated Liposomes Carrying Curcumin and Nerve Growth Factor to Rescue Neurons from Apoptosis for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Authors: Yung-Chih Kuo, Che-Yu Lin, Jay-Shake Li, Yung-I Lou

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Curcumin (CRM) and nerve growth factor (NGF) were entrapped in liposomes (LIP) with cardiolipin (CL) to downregulate the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) management. AD belongs to neurodegenerative disorder with a gradual loss of memory, yielding irreversible dementia. CL-conjugated LIP loaded with CRM (CRM-CL/LIP) and that with NGF (NGF-CL/LIP) were applied to AD models of SK-N-MC cells and Wistar rats with an insult of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ). Lipids comprising 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine (Avanti Polar Lipids, Alabaster, AL), 1',3'-bis[1,2- dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho]-sn-glycerol (CL; Avanti Polar Lipids), 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N- [methoxy(polyethylene glycol)-2000] (Avanti Polar Lipids), 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[carboxy(polyethylene glycol)-2000] (Avanti Polar Lipids) and CRM (Sigma–Aldrich, St. Louis, MO) were dissolved in chloroform (J. T. Baker, Phillipsburg, NJ) and condensed using a rotary evaporator (Panchum, Kaohsiung, Taiwan). Human β-NGF (Alomone Lab, Jerusalem, Israel) was added in the aqueous phase. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA; Medicago AB, Uppsala, Sweden) was grafted on LIP loaded with CRM for (WGA-CRM-LIP) and CL-conjugated LIP loaded with CRM (WGA-CRM-CL/LIP) using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide (Sigma–Aldrich) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (Alfa Aesar, Ward Hill, MA). The protein samples of SK-N-MC cells (American Type Tissue Collection, Rockville, MD) were used for sodium dodecyl sulfate (Sigma–Aldrich) polyacrylamide gel (Sigma–Aldrich) electrophoresis. In animal study, the LIP formulations were administered by intravenous injection via a tail vein of male Wistar rats (250–280 g, 8 weeks, BioLasco, Taipei, Taiwan), which were housed in the Animal Laboratory of National Chung Cheng University in accordance with the institutional guidelines and the guidelines of Animal Protection Committee under the Council of Agriculture of the Republic of China. We found that CRM-CL/LIP could inhibit the expressions of phosphorylated p38 (p-p38), p-Jun N-terminal kinase (p-JNK), and p-tau protein at serine 202 (p-Ser202) to retard the neuronal apoptosis. Free CRM and released CRM from CRM-LIP and CRM-CL/LIP were not in a straightforward manner to effectively inhibit the expression of p-p38 and p-JNK in the cytoplasm. In addition, NGF-CL/LIP enhanced the quantities of p-neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor type 1 (p-TrkA) and p-extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 5 (p-ERK5), preventing the Aβ-induced degeneration of neurons. The membrane fusion of NGF-LIP activated the ERK5 pathway and the targeting capacity of NGF-CL/LIP enhanced the possibility of released NGF to affect the TrkA level. Moreover, WGA-CRM-LIP improved the permeation of CRM across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and significantly reduced the Aβ plaque deposition and malondialdehyde level and increased the percentage of normal neurons and cholinergic function in the hippocampus of AD rats. This was mainly because the encapsulated CRM was protected by LIP against a rapid degradation in the blood. Furthermore, WGA on LIP could target N-acetylglucosamine on endothelia and increased the quantity of CRM transported across the BBB. In addition, WGA-CRM-CL/LIP could be effective in suppressing the synthesis of acetylcholinesterase and reduced the decomposition of acetylcholine for better neurotransmission. Based on the in vitro and in vivo evidences, WGA-CRM-CL/LIP can rescue neurons from apoptosis in the brain and can be a promising drug delivery system for clinical AD therapy.

Keywords: alzheimer’s disease, liposome, β-amyloid, mitogen-activated protein kinase

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