Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 8

Search results for: Urszula Mantaj

8 Association of Nuclear – Mitochondrial Epistasis with BMI in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Patients

Authors: Agnieszka H. Ludwig-Slomczynska, Michal T. Seweryn, Przemyslaw Kapusta, Ewelina Pitera, Katarzyna Cyganek, Urszula Mantaj, Lucja Dobrucka, Ewa Wender-Ozegowska, Maciej T. Malecki, Pawel Wolkow


Obesity results from an imbalance between energy intake and its expenditure. Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) analyses have led to discovery of only about 100 variants influencing body mass index (BMI), which explain only a small portion of genetic variability. Analysis of gene epistasis gives a chance to discover another part. Since it was shown that interaction and communication between nuclear and mitochondrial genome are indispensable for normal cell function, we have looked for epistatic interactions between the two genomes to find their correlation with BMI. Methods: The analysis was performed on 366 T1DM patients using Illumina Infinium OmniExpressExome-8 chip and followed by imputation on Michigan Imputation Server. Only genes which influence mitochondrial functioning (listed in Human MitoCarta 2.0) were included in the analysis – variants of nuclear origin (MAF > 5%) in 1140 genes and 42 mitochondrial variants (MAF > 1%). Gene expression analysis was performed on GTex data. Association analysis between genetic variants and BMI was performed with the use of Linear Mixed Models as implemented in the package 'GENESIS' in R. Analysis of association between mRNA expression and BMI was performed with the use of linear models and standard significance tests in R. Results: Among variants involved in epistasis between mitochondria and nucleus we have identified one in mitochondrial transcription factor, TFB2M (rs6701836). It interacted with mitochondrial variants localized to MT-RNR1 (p=0.0004, MAF=15%), MT-ND2 (p=0.07, MAF=5%) and MT-ND4 (p=0.01, MAF=1.1%). Analysis of the interaction between nuclear variant rs6701836 (nuc) and rs3021088 localized to MT-ND2 mitochondrial gene (mito) has shown that the combination of the two led to BMI decrease (p=0.024). Each of the variants on its own does not correlate with higher BMI [p(nuc)=0.856, p(mito)=0.116)]. Although rs6701836 is intronic, it influences gene expression in the thyroid (p=0.000037). rs3021088 is a missense variant that leads to alanine to threonine substitution in the MT-ND2 gene which belongs to complex I of the electron transport chain. The analysis of the influence of genetic variants on gene expression has confirmed the trend explained above – the interaction of the two genes leads to BMI decrease (p=0.0308). Each of the mRNAs on its own is associated with higher BMI (p(mito)=0.0244 and p(nuc)=0.0269). Conclusıons: Our results show that nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis can influence BMI in T1DM patients. The correlation between transcription factor expression and mitochondrial genetic variants will be subject to further analysis.

Keywords: body mass index, epistasis, mitochondria, type 1 diabetes

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7 Gradient Overdrive: Avoiding Negative Randomness Effects in Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD)

Authors: Filip Strzałka Urszula Markowska-Kaczmar


This work aims to develop a new method that maximally reduces the phenomenon of scrabbling weights in modern Deep Neural Network architectures without losing positive generalization characteristics of SGD. The goal of the conducted experiments is to tune the proposed method called Gradient Overdrive (GO) and try to prove its effectiveness by comparison to similar state-of-the-art methods. The method aims at achieving steeper learning curves in the same training regimes. Though the method should mark by being computationally efficient, neither the experimental implementation ensures to be optimal nor is it in the scope of this work to optimize the technique in the domain of computation time.

Keywords: neural network training, SGD, MLP, convolutional network

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6 Voltage Polarity in Electrospinning: Way to Control Surface Properties of Polymer Fibers

Authors: Urszula Stachewicz


Surface properties of materials are the key parameter in many applications, especially in the biomedical field, to control cell-material interactions. In our work, we want to achieve the controllability of surface properties of polymer fibers via a single-step electrospinning process by alternating voltage polarities. Voltage polarity defines the charge accumulated on the surface of the liquid jet and the surface of the fibers. Positive polarity attracts negatively charged groups to fibers’ surface, whereas negative polarity moves the negatively charged functional groups away from the surface. This way, we can control the surface chemistry, wettability, and additionally surface potential of electrospun fibers. Within our research, we characterized surface chemistry using X-ray photoelectron microscopy (XPS) and surface potential with Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) on electrospun fibers of commonly used polymers such as PCL, PVDF, and PMMA, often used as biomaterials. We proved the significant effect of fibers' surface potential on cell integration with the scaffolds and further cells development for the regeneration processes based on the osteoblast and fibroblast culture studies. Acknowledgments: The study was conducted within ‘Nanofiber-based sponges for atopic skin treatment’ project, which is carried out within the First TEAM programme of the Foundation for Polish Science co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund, project no POIR.04.04.00-00- 4571/18-00.

Keywords: cell attachment, fibers, fibroblasts, osteoblast, proliferation, surface potential

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5 Improvement of the Quality Services of Social Robots by Understanding Requirements of People with Dementia

Authors: Konrad Rejdak, Agnieszka Korchut, Sebastian Szklener, Urszula Skrobas, Justyna Gerlowska, Katarzyna Grabowska-Aleksandrowicz, Dorota Szczesniak-Stanczyk


Introduction: Neurodegenerative diseases are frequently accompanied by loss and unwanted change in functional independence, social relationships, and economic circumstances. Currently, the achievements of social robots to date is being projected to improve multidimensional quality of life among people with cognitive impairment and others. Objectives: Identification of particular human needs in context of the changes occurring in course of neurodegenerative diseases. Methods: Based on the 110 surveys performed in Medical University of Lublin from medical staff, patients, and caregivers we made prioritization of the users' needs as: high, medium, and low. The issues included in the surveys concerned four aspects: user acceptance, functional requirements, design of the robotic assistant and preferred types of human-robot interaction. Results: We received completed questionnaires: 50 from medical staff, 30 from caregivers and 30 from potential users. Above 90% of the respondents from each of the three groups, accepted robotic assistant as a potential caregiver. High priority functional capability of assistive technology was to handle emergencies in a private home like recognizing life-threatening situations and reminding about medication intake. With reference to design of the robotic assistant, the majority of the respondent would like to have an anthropomorphic appearance with positive emotionally expressive face. The most important type of human-robot interaction was voice-operated system and by touchscreen. Conclusion: The results from our study might contribute to a better understanding of the system and users’ requirements for the development of a service robot intended to support patients with dementia.

Keywords: social robot, dementia, requirements, patients needs

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4 The Impact of Electrospinning Parameters on Surface Morphology and Chemistry of PHBV Fibers

Authors: Lukasz Kaniuk, Mateusz M. Marzec, Andrzej Bernasik, Urszula Stachewicz


Electrospinning is one of the commonly used methods to produce micro- or nano-fibers. The properties of electrospun fibers allow them to be used to produce tissue scaffolds, biodegradable bandages, or purification membranes. The morphology of the obtained fibers depends on the composition of the polymer solution as well as the processing parameters. Interesting properties such as high fiber porosity can be achieved by changing humidity during electrospinning. Moreover, by changing voltage polarity in electrospinning, we are able to alternate functional groups at the surface of fibers. In this study, electrospun fibers were made of natural, thermoplastic polyester – PHBV (poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid-co-3-hydrovaleric acid). The fibrous mats were obtained using both positive and negative voltage polarities, and their surface was characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS, Ulvac-Phi, Chigasaki, Japan). Furthermore, the effect of the humidity on surface morphology was investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM, Merlin Gemini II, Zeiss, Germany). Electrospun PHBV fibers produced with positive and negative voltage polarity had similar morphology and the average fiber diameter, 2.47 ± 0.21 µm and 2.44 ± 0.15 µm, respectively. The change of the voltage polarity had a significant impact on the reorientation of the carbonyl groups what consequently changed the surface potential of the electrospun PHBV fibers. The increase of humidity during electrospinning causes porosity in the surface structure of the fibers. In conclusion, we showed within our studies that the process parameters such as humidity and voltage polarity have a great influence on fiber morphology and chemistry, changing their functionality. Surface properties of polymer fiber have a significant impact on cell integration and attachment, which is very important in tissue engineering. The possibility of changing surface porosity allows the use of fibers in various tissue engineering and drug delivery systems. Acknowledgment: This study was conducted within 'Nanofiber-based sponges for atopic skin treatment' project., carried out within the First TEAM programme of the Foundation for Polish Science co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund, project no POIR.04.04.00-00- 4571/18-00.

Keywords: cells integration, electrospun fiber, PHBV, surface characterization

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3 The Effect of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) Berries on Some Quality Characteristics of Cooked Pork Sausages

Authors: Anna M. Salejda, Urszula Tril, Grażyna Krasnowska


The aim of this study was to analyze selected quality characteristics of cooked pork sausages manufactured with the addition of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) berries preparations. Stuffings of model sausages consisted of pork, backfat, water and additives such a curing salt and sodium isoascorbate. Functional additives used in production process were two preparations obtained from dried Sea buckthorn berries in form of powder and brew. Powder of dried berries was added in amount of 1 and 3 g, while water infusion as a replacement of 50 and 100% ice water included in meat products formula. Control samples were produced without functional additives. Experimental stuffings were heat treated in water bath and stored for 4 weeks under cooled conditions (4±1ºC). Physical parameters of colour, texture profile and technological parameters as acidity, weight losses and water activity were estimated. The effect of Sea buckthorn berries preparations on lipid oxidation during storage of final products was determine by TBARS method. Studies have shown that addition of Sea buckthorn preparations to meat-fatty batters significant (P≤0.05) reduced the pH values of sausages samples after thermal treatment. Moreover, the addition of berries powder caused significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) in weight losses after cooking process. Analysis of results of texture profile analysis indicated, that utilization of infusion prepared from Sea buckthorn dried berries caused increase of springiness, gumminess and chewiness of final meat products. At the same time, the highest amount of Sea buckthorn berries powder in recipe caused the decrease of all measured texture parameters. Utilization of experimental preparations significantly decreased (P≤0.05) lightness (L* parameter of color) of meat products. Simultaneously, introduction of 1 and 3 grams of Sea buckthorn berries powder to meat-fatty batter increased redness (a* parameter) of samples under investigation. Higher content of substances reacting with thiobarbituric acid was observed in meat products produced without functional additives. It was observed that powder of Sea buckthorn berries added to meat-fatty batters caused higher protection against lipid oxidation in cooked sausages.

Keywords: sea buckthorn, meat products, texture, color parameters, lipid oxidation

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2 A Multiple Freezing/Thawing Cycles Influence Internal Structure and Mechanical Properties of Achilles Tendon

Authors: Martyna Ekiert, Natalia Grzechnik, Joanna Karbowniczek, Urszula Stachewicz, Andrzej Mlyniec


Tendon grafting is a common procedure performed to treat tendon rupture. Before the surgical procedure, tissues intended for grafts (i.e., Achilles tendon) are stored in ultra-low temperatures for a long time and also may be subjected to unfavorable conditions, such as repetitive freezing (F) and thawing (T). Such storage protocols may highly influence the graft mechanical properties, decrease its functionality and thus increase the risk of complications during the transplant procedure. The literature reports on the influence of multiple F/T cycles on internal structure and mechanical properties of tendons stay inconclusive, confirming and denying the negative influence of multiple F/T at the same time. An inconsistent research methodology and lack of clear limit of F/T cycles, which disqualifies tissue for surgical graft purposes, encouraged us to investigate the issue of multiple F/T cycles by the mean of biomechanical tensile tests supported with Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging. The study was conducted on male bovine Achilles tendon-derived from the local abattoir. Fresh tendons were cleaned of excessive membranes and then sectioned to obtained fascicle bundles. Collected samples were randomly assigned to 6 groups subjected to 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 cycles of freezing-thawing (F/T), respectively. Each F/T cycle included deep freezing at -80°C temperature, followed by thawing at room temperature. After final thawing, thin slices of the side part of samples subjected to 1, 4, 8 and 12 F/T cycles were collected for SEM imaging. Then, the width and thickness of all samples were measured to calculate the cross-sectional area. Biomechanical tests were performed using the universal testing machine (model Instron 8872, INSTRON®, Norwood, Massachusetts, USA) using a load cell with a maximum capacity of 250 kN and standard atmospheric conditions. Both ends of each fascicle bundle were manually clamped in grasping clamps using abrasive paper and wet cellulose wadding swabs to prevent tissue slipping while clamping and testing. Samples were subjected to the testing procedure including pre-loading, pre-cycling, loading, holding and unloading steps to obtain stress-strain curves for representing tendon stretching and relaxation. The stiffness of AT fascicles bundle samples was evaluated in terms of modulus of elasticity (Young’s modulus), calculated from the slope of the linear region of stress-strain curves. SEM imaging was preceded by chemical sample preparation including 24hr fixation in 3% glutaraldehyde buffered with 0.1 M phosphate buffer, washing with 0.1 M phosphate buffer solution and dehydration in a graded ethanol solution. SEM images (Merlin Gemini II microscope, ZEISS®) were taken using 30 000x mag, which allowed measuring a diameter of collagen fibrils. The results confirm a decrease in fascicle bundles Young’s modulus as well as a decrease in the diameter of collagen fibrils. These results confirm the negative influence of multiple F/T cycles on the mechanical properties of tendon tissue.

Keywords: biomechanics, collagen, fascicle bundles, soft tissue

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1 Tailoring Piezoelectricity of PVDF Fibers with Voltage Polarity and Humidity in Electrospinning

Authors: Piotr K. Szewczyk, Arkadiusz Gradys, Sungkyun Kim, Luana Persano, Mateusz M. Marzec, Oleksander Kryshtal, Andrzej Bernasik, Sohini Kar-Narayan, Pawel Sajkiewicz, Urszula Stachewicz


Piezoelectric polymers have received great attention in smart textiles, wearables, and flexible electronics. Their potential applications range from devices that could operate without traditional power sources, through self-powering sensors, up to implantable biosensors. Semi-crystalline PVDF is often proposed as the main candidate for industrial-scale applications as it exhibits exceptional energy harvesting efficiency compared to other polymers combined with high mechanical strength and thermal stability. Plenty of approaches have been proposed for obtaining PVDF rich in the desired β-phase with electric polling, thermal annealing, and mechanical stretching being the most prevalent. Electrospinning is a highly tunable technique that provides a one-step process of obtaining highly piezoelectric PVDF fibers without the need for post-treatment. In this study, voltage polarity and relative humidity influence on electrospun PVDF, fibers were investigated with the main focus on piezoelectric β-phase contents and piezoelectric performance. Morphology and internal structure of fibers were investigated using scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy techniques (TEM). Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FITR), wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were used to characterize the phase composition of electrospun PVDF. Additionally, surface chemistry was verified with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Piezoelectric performance of individual electrospun PVDF fibers was measured using piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), and the power output from meshes was analyzed via custom-built equipment. To prepare the solution for electrospinning, PVDF pellets were dissolved in dimethylacetamide and acetone solution in a 1:1 ratio to achieve a 24% solution. Fibers were electrospun with a constant voltage of +/-15kV applied to the stainless steel nozzle with the inner diameter of 0.8mm. The flow rate was kept constant at 6mlh⁻¹. The electrospinning of PVDF was performed at T = 25°C and relative humidity of 30 and 60% for PVDF30+/- and PVDF60+/- samples respectively in the environmental chamber. The SEM and TEM analysis of fibers produced at a lower relative humidity of 30% (PVDF30+/-) showed a smooth surface in opposition to fibers obtained at 60% relative humidity (PVDF60+/-), which had wrinkled surface and additionally internal voids. XPS results confirmed lower fluorine content at the surface of PVDF- fibers obtained by electrospinning with negative voltage polarity comparing to the PVDF+ obtained with positive voltage polarity. Changes in surface composition measured with XPS were found to influence the piezoelectric performance of obtained fibers what was further confirmed by PFM as well as by custom-built fiber-based piezoelectric generator. For PVDF60+/- samples humidity led to an increase of β-phase contents in PVDF fibers as confirmed by FTIR, WAXS, and DSC measurements, which showed almost two times higher concentrations of β-phase. A combination of negative voltage polarity with high relative humidity led to fibers with the highest β-phase contents and the best piezoelectric performance of all investigated samples. This study outlines the possibility to produce electrospun PVDF fibers with tunable piezoelectric performance in a one-step electrospinning process by controlling relative humidity and voltage polarity conditions. Acknowledgment: This research was conducted within the funding from m the Sonata Bis 5 project granted by National Science Centre, No 2015/18/E/ST5/00230, and supported by the infrastructure at International Centre of Electron Microscopy for Materials Science (IC-EM) at AGH University of Science and Technology. The PFM measurements were supported by an STSM Grant from COST Action CA17107.

Keywords: crystallinity, electrospinning, PVDF, voltage polarity

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