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Comparison of the Effects of Different Testicular Sperm Extraction Methods on the Embryonic Development of Azoospermic Men in Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) Cycles: A Retrospective Cohort Study
Background. The effects of different testicular sperm extraction methods on the embryonic development and clinical outcome of azoospermic men in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cycles have not been researched. Our goal was to evaluate the effect of different sperm retrieval methods used for patients with OA or NOA on the embryonic development and clinical outcomes during the ICSI cycles. Methods. This was a retrospective cohort study. A total of 530 azoospermic patients who underwent 570 ICSI cycles met the study criteria. ICSI was performed using testicular sperm by TESA in 282 cycles (TESA group); ICSI with testicular sperm by mTESE was performed due to NOA in 90 cycles (mTESE group); ICSI with testicular sperm by MESA was performed in 198 cycles (MESA group). The embryonic development and clinical outcomes of the three groups were counted. Results. The general characteristics of the three groups were comparable. Our findings showed that the three groups were matched in terms of infertility durations and age. The mean age and the mean BMI of the female partners were similar in the three groups. Also, our findings showed there were no significant differences in the three groups regarding day 3 of the menstrual cycle FSH and days of stimulation. The research results showed that the total dose of FSH and E2 on the HCG administration day was also not statistically different in the three groups. The number of oocytes retrieved had no significant differences in the three groups. However, the number of 2PNs per cycle and the number of cleavages per cycle were higher in the MESA group than in the other two groups; the TESA group and mTESE group were similar. The number of good quality D3 embryos and the number of good quality D5 embryos were significantly decreased in the mTESE group as compared to the other two groups. Good quality D3 embryos and the rate of good quality D5 embryos in the mTESE group were lower than those in the other two groups. Moreover, the clinical pregnancy rates of the TESA group (50.71%) and the MESA group (51.52%) were similar, but both were much higher than that of the mTESE group (32.22%). Conclusions. The mTESE provides a good clinical outcome for NOA patients with severe spermatogenic impairment, including the rate of good quality D3 embryos, the rate of good quality D5 embryos, and the clinical pregnancy rate. However, our data suggested that both the TESA and MESA groups had better embryonic development and clinical outcomes than the mTESE group.
Rise and Decay of the COVID-19 Epidemics in the USA and the State of New York in the First Half of 2020: A Nonlinear Physics Perspective Yielding Novel Insights
As of December 2020, since the beginning of the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed worldwide more than 1 million lives and has changed human life in unprecedented ways. Despite the fact that the pandemic is far from over, several countries managed at least temporarily to make their first-wave COVID-19 epidemics to subside to relatively low levels. Combining an epidemiological compartment model and a stability analysis as used in nonlinear physics and synergetics, it is shown how the first-wave epidemics in the state of New York and nationwide in the USA developed through three stages during the first half of the year 2020. These three stages are the outbreak stage, the linear stage, and the subsiding stage. Evidence is given that the COVID-19 outbreaks in these two regions were due to instabilities of the COVID-19 free states of the corresponding infection dynamical systems. It is shown that from stage 1 to stage 3, these instabilities were removed, presumably due to intervention measures, in the sense that the COVID-19 free states were stabilized in the months of May and June in both regions. In this context, stability parameters and key directions are identified that characterize the infection dynamics in the outbreak and subsiding stages. Importantly, it is shown that the directions in combination with the sign-switching of the stability parameters can explain the observed rise and decay of the epidemics in the state of New York and the USA. The nonlinear physics perspective provides a framework to obtain insights into the nature of the COVID-19 dynamics during outbreak and subsiding stages and allows to discuss possible impacts of intervention measures. For example, the directions can be used to determine how different populations (e.g., exposed versus symptomatic individuals) vary in size relative to each other during the course of an epidemic. Moreover, the timeline of the computationally obtained stages can be compared with the history of the implementation of intervention measures to discuss the effectivity of such measures.
Pooled Analysis of the Accuracy of Xpert Ebola Assay for Diagnosing Ebola Virus Infection
Background. West Africa has witnessed the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD). The Ebola virus (EBOV) can cause Ebola hemorrhagic fever, which is documented as the most deadly viral hemorrhagic fever in the world. RT-PCR had been suggested to be employed in the detection of Ebola virus; however, this method has high requirements for laboratory equipment and takes a long time to determine Ebola infection. Although Xpert Ebola is a fast and simple instrument for the detection of Ebola virus, its effect is still unclear. This study is aimed at evaluating the accuracy of Xpert Ebola in diagnosing Ebola virus infection. Methods. Using the keywords “Xpert” and “Ebola virus”, relevant studies were retrieved from the database of PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane. RT-PCR was employed as a reference standard to evaluate whether the study is eligible to be included in the meta-analysis. Data from these included studies were extracted by two independent assessors and were then analyzed by the Meta-DiSc 1.4 software to produce the heterogeneity of sensitivity (SEN), specificity (SP), positive likelihood ratio (PLR), negative likelihood ratio (NLR), and diagnostic advantage ratio (DOR) of the study. The results of pooled analysis were plotted, together with the summary receiver operating characteristic (SROC) curve plotted by calculating the area under the curve (AUC). Generated pooled summary estimates (95% CIs) were calculated for the evaluation of the overall accuracy of this study. Results. Five fourfold tables were made from the four studies that were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled sensitivity of Xpert Ebola was 0.98 (95% confidence interval (CI) (0.95, 0.99)), and the pooled specificity was 0.98 (95% CI (0.97, 0.99)). The pooled values of positive likelihood ratio was 53.91 (95% CI (12.82, 226.79)), with negative likelihood ratio being 0.04 (95% CI (0.02, 0.08)) and diagnostic odds ratio being 2649.45 (95% CI (629.61, 11149.02)). The AUC was 0.9961. Conclusions. Compared with RT-PCR, Xpert Ebola has high sensitivity and specificity. Therefore, it is a valued alternative method for the clinical diagnosis of Ebola virus infection. However, the Xpert Ebola test is a qualitative test that does not provide quantitative testing of EBOV concentration. Whether it can completely replace other methods or not calls for further evidences.
PCB118 Induces Inflammation of Islet Beta Cells via Activating ROS-NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling
Background. Diabetes mellitus is a clinical syndrome caused by genetic and environmental factors. Growing evidence suggests that exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors and activation of NLRP3 inflammasome signaling play a vital role in diabetes. However, it is unclear how PCB118, a common environmental endocrine disruptor, contributes to the incidence of diabetes, and its specific mechanism of action is unknown. In this study, we explored whether ROS-induced NLRP3 inflammasome priming and activation were related to PCB118 exposure in mouse islet β-TC-6 cells and the mechanisms of diabetes. Methods. Mouse islet β-TC-6 cells were cultured with PCB118 as a stimulating factor and ROS inhibitor N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as an intervention. Cellular toxicity due to PCB118 was detected using the Cell Counting Kit-8; ROS was measured using DCFH-DA; the expressions of NLRP3, procaspase-1, caspase-1, pro-IL-1β, and IL-1β protein were detected by western blot; and IL-6, IL-18, and C-C chemokine ligand 2 (CCL-2) were measured by ELISA. Results. PCB118 caused significant toxicity to the cells when the stimulation concentration was equal to or greater than 80 nmol/L at 72 hours () and increased the levels of ROS, NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-18, and CCL-2 (); the expressions of procaspase-1 and pro-IL-1β were downregulated in a dose-dependent manner after PCB118 exposure (), which was prevented by pretreatment with NAC (). Conclusions. PCB118 can activate NLRP3 inflammasome signaling in islet beta cells via the oxidative stress pathway and cause inflammation in islet beta cells. It suggests that environmental endocrine disruptors play an important role in the inflammation of islet beta cells and may contribute to the development of diabetes through NLRP3 inflammatory signaling.
A Review of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Treating Renal Interstitial Fibrosis via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Mediated Apoptosis
Renal interstitial fibrosis (RIF) is the main pathological manifestation of end-stage renal disease. Recent studies have shown that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in the pathogenesis and development of RIF. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as an effective treatment for kidney diseases, can improve kidney damage by affecting the apoptotic signaling pathway mediated by ER stress. This article reviews the apoptotic pathways mediated by ER stress, including the three major signaling pathways of unfolded protein response, the main functions of the transcription factor C/EBP homologous protein. We also present current research on TCM treatment of RIF, focusing on medicines that regulate ER stress. A new understanding of using TCM to treat kidney disease by regulating ER stress will promote clinical application of Chinese medicine and discovery of new drugs for the treatment of RIF.
Meta-Analytic Review of High Anxiety Comorbidity among Patients with Vitiligo
Background. Vitiligo is a disfiguring skin disease with profound psychosocial impacts, such as anxiety, but the reported effect sizes of associations vary. We aimed to conduct a meta-analysis to quantify the strength of association between anxiety and vitiligo and to estimate the prevalence of anxiety among individuals with vitiligo. Methods. A systematic literature search was performed in five online databases (MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO) from inception until March 20, 2020. All of the eligible studies were comprehensively reviewed, and all of the available data were analyzed according to our predefined criteria. Results. Twenty-one studies involving 3259 patients in 11 countries were included in this meta-analysis. Compared with the healthy control group, patients with vitiligo often had concomitant anxiety ( [95% CI: 3.35–11.24], ). The pooled prevalence of anxiety in female patients was significantly higher than that in males ( [95% CI: 1.31–3.84], ). Subgroup analysis showed that the pooled prevalence of clinical anxiety disorder and anxiety symptoms was 12% (95% CI: 7%–16%, ) and 34% (95% CI: 21%–46%, ), respectively. No publication bias has been detected by Begg’s funnel plot and Egger’s test. Conclusion. Patients with vitiligo have high anxiety comorbidity, with female predominance. Dermatologists and psychiatrists should be vigilant to the presence of anxiety, apply appropriate interventions to reduce the psychological impacts in a timely manner, and thus promote recovery in vitiligo patients. However, due to some objective limitations (poor information about the OR and diversity in assessment tools among included studies), findings should be interpreted with caution.