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Woody Ornamental Plants in Mediterranean Climate
The native flora of different Mediterranean countries, often woody species, was widely recognized for its ornamental potential. The shrubs, in particular, are a typology of plants very widespread in the Mediterranean environment and constituent the ‘Macchia’, the typical vegetation of this ecosystem. These plant species could be used to improve the ornamental value of urban and peri-urban green areas. Since urban areas can suffer from low-quality soil and limited resources, the selection of plants must be carefully considered. The most commonly used plants should have adequate tolerance to abiotic stress.
01 Jun 2023
Vomeronasal System in Mammals
The vomeronasal system (VNS) or accessory olfactory system is specialized in detecting chemical signals, primarily pheromones, kairomones, and molecules from the major histocompatibility complex.
08 Dec 2023
Virtual Anthropology and Paleoneurology
Advances in neuroscience have made it possible to obtain increasing information on the anatomy of the brain, at ever-higher resolutions, with different imaging techniques, on ever-larger samples. At the same time, paleoanthropology has to deal with partial reflections on the shape of the brain, on fragmentary specimens and small samples in an attempt to approach the morphology of the brain of past human species. Paleoanthropology has much to gain from interacting more with the field of neuroimaging. Improving our understanding of the morphology of the endocast necessarily involves studying the external surface of the brain and the link it maintains with the internal surface of the skull. The contribution of neuroimaging will allow us to better define the relationship between brain and endocast. Models of intra- and inter-species variability in brain morphology inferred from large neuroimaging databases will help make the most of the rare endocasts of extinct species. Moreover, exchanges between these two disciplines will also be beneficial to our knowledge of the Homo sapiens brain. Documenting the anatomy among other human species and including the variation over time within our own species are approaches that offer us a new perspective through which to appreciate what really characterizes the brain of humanity today.
09 Nov 2021
Vertebrate Cutaneous Sensory Corpuscles
Vertebrate cutaneous sensory corpuscles are specialized sensory nerve formations located in the skin of all vertebrates and responsible for tactile sensation. Functionally, they are mechanoreceptors transducing external mechanical stimuli into electrical signals which will be later led to the Central Nervous System. The afferent innervation of vertebrate skin is supplied by nerve fibers (Aβ, Aδ, C) which are originated from peripheral neurons localized in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Aβ nerve fibers end at the dermis level forming several morphotypes of sensory corpuscles with capacity of detecting different stimuli: Merkel cell–neurite complexes, Ruffini corpuscles, Meissner’s corpuscles and Pacinian corpuscles are present in the glabrous skin; while pilo-neural complexes are found in hairy skin. The structure of sensory corpuscles is formed by an axon, non-myelinating Schwann-like cells, a capsule of endoneurial and/or perineurial origin and extracelullar matrix molecules. The vertebrate skin contains sensory corpuscles that are receptors for different qualities of mechanosensitivity like light brush, touch, pressure, stretch or vibration. These specialized sensory organs are linked anatomically and functionally to mechanosensory neurons, which function as low-threshold mechanoreceptors connected to peripheral skin through Aβ nerve fibers. Furthermore, low-threshold mechanoreceptors associated with Aδ and C nerve fibers have been identified in hairy skin. The process of mechanotransduction requires the conversion of a mechanical stimulus into electrical signals (action potentials) through the activation of mechanosensible ion channels present both in the axon and the periaxonal cells of sensory corpuscles (i.e., Schwann-, endoneurial- and perineurial-related cells). Most of those putative ion channels belong to the degenerin/epithelial sodium channel (especially the family of acid-sensing ion channels), the transient receptor potential channel superfamilies, and the Piezo family.
07 Sep 2020
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are primary regulators of blood and lymphatic vessels. Hemangiogenic VEGFs (VEGF-A, PlGF, and VEGF-B) target mostly blood vessels, while the lymphangiogenic VEGFs (VEGF-C and VEGF-D) target mostly lymphatic vessels. Blocking VEGF-A is used today to treat several types of cancer (“antiangiogenic therapy”). However, in other diseases, it would be beneficial to do the opposite, namely to increase the activity of VEGFs. For example, VEGF-A could generate new blood vessels to protect from heart disease, and VEGF-C could generate new lymphatics to counteract lymphedema. Clinical trials that tried to stimulate blood vessel growth in ischemic diseases have been disappointing so far, and the first clinical trials targeting the lymphatic vasculature have progressed to phase II. Antiangiogenic drugs targeting VEGF-A such as bevacizumab or aflibercept neutralize the growth factor directly. However, since VEGF-C and VEGF-D are produced as inactive precursors, novel drugs against the lymphangiogenic VEGFs could also target the enzymatic activation of VEGF-C and VEGF-D. Because of the delicate balance between too much and too little vascular growth, a detailed understanding of the activation of the VEGF-C and VEGF-D is needed before such concepts can be converted into safe and efficacious therapies.
30 Mar 2021
The vascular cambium is the main lateral meristem responsible for the secondary growth of trees. There are a number of explicit and implicit assumptions behind this statement which allow questions to be raised about the mechanism underlying the radial growth of trees. Based on the hypothesis of the diurnal strains of plant organs, it is anticipated that the process of radial growth can be understood as an adaptation to the cyclically changing mechanical stress in the radial direction generated by the phloem during the 24 h day cycle.
24 Jul 2023
Tracking the Humoral and Cellular Components of Neuroinflammation
Positron emission tomography (PET) is an imaging technique that uses the radioactive decay of specifically designed radiotracers. In PET imaging, the annihilation of two photons that are produced back-to-back after positron emission from the radiotracer is measured by a technique called coincidence detection. After amplifying the signal, reconstruction algorithms are used to generate the image. One of the most commonly used diagnostic radiotracers in patients with neurodegenerative disorders (PwND) is [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose, which serves as a surrogate marker of glucose metabolism.
19 Jul 2023
TPPP-like Proteins in Myzozoa
TPPP-like proteins contain one or more p25alpha domains. They obtained their name after tubulin polymerization promoting protein (TPPP1), the first identified member of this protein family. Originally, it was named p25alpha protein, which became the eponym of the domain. Myzozoans are a monophyletic clade, and a sister clade to the Ciliata, within Alveolata.
16 Jun 2023
The Subretinal Space of the Eye
The subretinal space is located between the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the photoreceptive cells. The majority of the retina is a delicate matrix of photoreceptive cells and their support network which are responsible for human vision. These cells are separated from the cornea by a layer of pigment epithelium. The RPE has tight junctions, effectively insulating the inside of the retina from systemic circulation; the contents of the retina can then be controlled by transcellular transport.
05 May 2022
The Subconjunctival Space of the Eye
The subconjunctival space is the hydrophilic, fluid-filled space between the conjunctiva and the sclera. Additionally, the subconjunctival space has access to all the blood vessels found in the conjunctiva, which can help to further distribute substances throughout the whole eye. The subconjunctival space is located superior to the cornea and optimally located to distribute drugs to several different parts of the eye through minimally invasive means while limiting the development of scar tissue.
05 May 2022
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