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Molecules, Volume 26, Issue 11 (June-1 2021) – 417 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): After our deep immersion in the OPE world, we now firmly believe that the possibility of the modulation of their skeleton in terms of substitution, length, and as a consequence their photophysical properties, makes the class of oligophenylene ethynylenes be extremely promising for their future exploitation in the biological field. Furthermore, their tendency to aggregate in supramolecular structures gives OPEs extra gear for the modulation of their photophysical features and, as a logical consequence, of their applicability in the mentioned field. View this paper
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Article
Carbon Nanotube Fibers Decorated with MnO2 for Wire-Shaped Supercapacitor
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3479; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113479 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 692
Abstract
Fibers made from CNTs (CNT fibers) have the potential to form high-strength, lightweight materials with superior electrical conductivity. CNT fibers have attracted great attention in relation to various applications, in particular as conductive electrodes in energy applications, such as capacitors, lithium-ion batteries, and [...] Read more.
Fibers made from CNTs (CNT fibers) have the potential to form high-strength, lightweight materials with superior electrical conductivity. CNT fibers have attracted great attention in relation to various applications, in particular as conductive electrodes in energy applications, such as capacitors, lithium-ion batteries, and solar cells. Among these, wire-shaped supercapacitors demonstrate various advantages for use in lightweight and wearable electronics. However, making electrodes with uniform structures and desirable electrochemical performances still remains a challenge. In this study, dry-spun CNT fibers from CNT carpets were homogeneously loaded with MnO2 nanoflakes through the treatment of KMnO4. These functionalized fibers were systematically characterized in terms of their morphology, surface and mechanical properties, and electrochemical performance. The resulting MnO2–CNT fiber electrode showed high specific capacitance (231.3 F/g) in a Na2SO4 electrolyte, 23 times higher than the specific capacitance of the bare CNT fibers. The symmetric wire-shaped supercapacitor composed of CNT–MnO2 fiber electrodes and a PVA/H3PO4 electrolyte possesses an energy density of 86 nWh/cm and good cycling performance. Combined with its light weight and high flexibility, this CNT-based wire-shaped supercapacitor shows promise for applications in flexible and wearable energy storage devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Nanostructured Materials)
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Review
What Can Electrochemical Methods Offer in Determining DNA–Drug Interactions?
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3478; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113478 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 570
Abstract
The interactions of compounds with DNA have been studied since the recognition of the role of nucleic acid in organisms. The design of molecules which specifically interact with DNA sequences allows for the control of the gene expression. Determining the type and strength [...] Read more.
The interactions of compounds with DNA have been studied since the recognition of the role of nucleic acid in organisms. The design of molecules which specifically interact with DNA sequences allows for the control of the gene expression. Determining the type and strength of such interaction is an indispensable element of pharmaceutical studies. Cognition of the therapeutic action mechanisms is particularly important for designing new drugs. Owing to their sensitivity, simplicity, and low costs, electrochemical methods are increasingly used for this type of research. Compared to other techniques, they require a small number of samples and are characterized by a high reliability. These methods can provide information about the type of interaction and the binding strength, as well as the damage caused by biologically active molecules targeting the cellular DNA. This review paper summarizes the various electrochemical approaches used for the study of the interactions between pharmaceuticals and DNA. The main focus is on the papers from the last decade, with particular attention on the voltammetric techniques. The most preferred experimental approaches, the electrode materials and the new methods of modification are presented. The data on the detection ranges, the binding modes and the binding constant values of pharmaceuticals are summarized. Both the importance of the presented research and the importance of future prospects are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Drug Discovery and Development)
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Article
DFT Calculations of 1H NMR Chemical Shifts of Geometric Isomers of Conjugated Linolenic Acids, Hexadecatrienyl Pheromones, and Model Triene-Containing Compounds: Structures in Solution and Revision of NMR Assignments
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3477; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113477 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 542
Abstract
A DFT study of the 1H NMR chemical shifts, δ(1H), of geometric isomers of 18:3 conjugated linolenic acids (CLnAs), hexadecatrienyl pheromones, and model triene-containing compounds is presented, using standard functionals (B3LYP and PBE0) as well as corrections for dispersion interactions [...] Read more.
A DFT study of the 1H NMR chemical shifts, δ(1H), of geometric isomers of 18:3 conjugated linolenic acids (CLnAs), hexadecatrienyl pheromones, and model triene-containing compounds is presented, using standard functionals (B3LYP and PBE0) as well as corrections for dispersion interactions (B3LYP-D3, APFD, M06–2X and ωB97XD). The results are compared with literature experimental δ(1H) data in solution. The closely spaced “inside” olefinic protons are significantly more deshielded due to short-range through-space HH steric interactions and appear close to or even beyond δ-values of aromatic systems. Several regularities of the computational δ(1H) of the olefinic protons of the conjugated double bonds are reproduced very accurately for the lowest-energy DFT-optimized single conformer for all functionals used and are in very good agreement with experimental δ(1H) in solution. Examples are provided of literature studies in which experimental resonance assignments deviate significantly from DFT predictions and, thus, should be revised. We conclude that DFT calculations of 1H chemical shifts of trienyl compounds are powerful tools (i) for the accurate prediction of δ(1H) even with less demanding functionals and basis sets; (ii) for the unequivocal identification of geometric isomerism of conjugated trienyl systems that occur in nature; (iii) for tackling complex problems of experimental resonance assignments due to extensive signal overlap; and (iv) for structure elucidation in solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theme Issue in Honor of Professor Atta-Ur-Rahman, FRS)
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Article
Investigation of Antifungal Mechanisms of Thymol in the Human Fungal Pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3476; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113476 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 524
Abstract
Due to lifespan extension and changes in global climate, the increase in mycoses caused by primary and opportunistic fungal pathogens is now a global concern. Despite increasing attention, limited options are available for the treatment of systematic and invasive mycoses, owing to the [...] Read more.
Due to lifespan extension and changes in global climate, the increase in mycoses caused by primary and opportunistic fungal pathogens is now a global concern. Despite increasing attention, limited options are available for the treatment of systematic and invasive mycoses, owing to the evolutionary similarity between humans and fungi. Although plants produce a diversity of chemicals to protect themselves from pathogens, the molecular targets and modes of action of these plant-derived chemicals have not been well characterized. Using a reverse genetics approach, the present study revealed that thymol, a monoterpene alcohol from Thymus vulgaris L., (Lamiaceae), exhibits antifungal activity against Cryptococcus neoformans by regulating multiple signaling pathways including calcineurin, unfolded protein response, and HOG (high-osmolarity glycerol) MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathways. Thymol treatment reduced the intracellular concentration of Ca2+ by controlling the expression levels of calcium transporter genes in a calcineurin-dependent manner. We demonstrated that thymol decreased N-glycosylation by regulating the expression levels of genes involved in glycan-mediated post-translational modifications. Furthermore, thymol treatment reduced endogenous ergosterol content by decreasing the expression of ergosterol biosynthesis genes in a HOG MAPK pathway-dependent manner. Collectively, this study sheds light on the antifungal mechanisms of thymol against C. neoformans. Full article
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Article
Unveiling Putative Functions of Mucus Proteins and Their Tryptic Peptides in Seven Gastropod Species Using Comparative Proteomics and Machine Learning-Based Bioinformatics Predictions
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3475; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113475 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 552
Abstract
Gastropods are among the most diverse animals. Gastropod mucus contains several glycoproteins and peptides that vary by species and habitat. Some bioactive peptides from gastropod mucus were identified only in a few species. Therefore, using biochemical, mass spectrometric, and bioinformatics approaches, this study [...] Read more.
Gastropods are among the most diverse animals. Gastropod mucus contains several glycoproteins and peptides that vary by species and habitat. Some bioactive peptides from gastropod mucus were identified only in a few species. Therefore, using biochemical, mass spectrometric, and bioinformatics approaches, this study aimed to comprehensively identify putative bioactive peptides from the mucus proteomes of seven commonly found or commercially valuable gastropods. The mucus was collected in triplicate samples, and the proteins were separated by 1D-SDS-PAGE before tryptic digestion and peptide identification by nano LC-MS/MS. The mucus peptides were subsequently compared with R scripts. A total of 2818 different peptides constituting 1634 proteins from the mucus samples were identified, and 1218 of these peptides (43%) were core peptides found in the mucus of all examined species. Clustering and correspondence analyses of 1600 variable peptides showed unique mucous peptide patterns for each species. The high-throughput k-nearest neighbor and random forest-based prediction programs were developed with more than 95% averaged accuracy and could identify 11 functional categories of putative bioactive peptides and 268 peptides (9.5%) with at least five to seven bioactive properties. Antihypertensive, drug-delivering, and antiparasitic peptides were predominant. These peptides provide an understanding of gastropod mucus, and the putative bioactive peptides are expected to be experimentally validated for further medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic applications. Full article
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Article
Monitoring the Reaction of the Body State to Antibiotic Treatment against Helicobacter pylori via Infrared Spectroscopy: A Case Study
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3474; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113474 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 487
Abstract
The current understanding of deviations of human microbiota caused by antibiotic treatment is poor. In an attempt to improve it, a proof-of-principle spectroscopic study of the breath of one volunteer affected by a course of antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori eradication was performed. Fourier [...] Read more.
The current understanding of deviations of human microbiota caused by antibiotic treatment is poor. In an attempt to improve it, a proof-of-principle spectroscopic study of the breath of one volunteer affected by a course of antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori eradication was performed. Fourier transform spectroscopy enabled searching for the absorption spectral structures sensitive to the treatment in the entire mid-infrared region. Two spectral ranges were found where the corresponding structures strongly correlated with the beginning and end of the treatment. The structures were identified as methyl ester of butyric acid and ethyl ester of pyruvic acid. Both acids generated by bacteria in the gut are involved in fundamental processes of human metabolism. Being confirmed by other studies, measurement of the methyl butyrate deviation could be a promising way for monitoring acute gastritis and anti-Helicobacter pylori antibiotic treatment. Full article
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Article
Role of Organic and Eco-Friendly Inhibitors on the Corrosion Mitigation of Steel in Acidic Environments—A State-of-Art Review
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3473; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113473 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 599
Abstract
Steel has versatile application in chemical, structure and construction industries owing to its mechanical properties. However, it is susceptible to corrosion in acid environments. Thus, it requires to protect the steel from corrosion. Different types of corrosion resistance steel, coatings and inhibitors are [...] Read more.
Steel has versatile application in chemical, structure and construction industries owing to its mechanical properties. However, it is susceptible to corrosion in acid environments. Thus, it requires to protect the steel from corrosion. Different types of corrosion resistance steel, coatings and inhibitors are developed to mitigate the corrosion, but, inhibitor is the best remedies to control the corrosion of steel in acid condition. Moreover, organic and green inhibitors used in acid condition for descaling, acid pickling, pipelines, boiler tubes and oil-wells. Organic inhibitors reduce the dissolution of steel in acid but, it is hazardous, expensive and needs expertise to synthesize the inhibitor. Therefore, there is utmost required to study and compile the latest research about the eco-friendly corrosion inhibitors, which showed more than 90% corrosion inhibition efficiency. In the present study, I have reviewed the state-of-arts, and compile the latest development in organic and eco-friendly corrosion inhibitor used in acid environment as well as suggested about the future scope and role of green inhibitor for sustainable society, which is economical, less hazardous and readily available from the natural sources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecofriendly Inhibitor to Mitigate the Corrosion of Metals and Alloys)
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Article
Development of a Promising Method for Producing Oligomeric Mixture of Branched Alkylene Guanidines to Improve Substance Quality and Evaluate Their Antiviral Activity against SARS-CoV-2
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3472; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113472 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 583
Abstract
This paper reports the synthesis of branched alkylene guanidines using microfluidic technologies. We describe the preparation of guanidine derivatives at lower temperatures, and with significantly less time than that required in the previously applicable method. Furthermore, the use of microfluidics allows the attainment [...] Read more.
This paper reports the synthesis of branched alkylene guanidines using microfluidic technologies. We describe the preparation of guanidine derivatives at lower temperatures, and with significantly less time than that required in the previously applicable method. Furthermore, the use of microfluidics allows the attainment of high-purity products with a low residual monomer content, which can expand the range of applications of this class of compounds. For all the samples obtained, the molecular-weight characteristics are calculated, based on which the optimal condensation conditions are established. Additionally, in this work, the antiviral activity of the alkylene guanidine salt against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is confirmed. Full article
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Article
Photoinduced DNA Cleavage and Photocytotoxic of Phenanthroline-Based Ligand Ruthenium Compounds
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3471; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113471 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
The photophysical and biological properties of two new phenanthroline-based ligand ruthenium complexes were investigated in detail. Their DNA interaction modes were determined to be the intercalation mode using spectra titration and viscosity measurements. Under irradiation, obvious photo-reduced DNA cleavages were observed in the [...] Read more.
The photophysical and biological properties of two new phenanthroline-based ligand ruthenium complexes were investigated in detail. Their DNA interaction modes were determined to be the intercalation mode using spectra titration and viscosity measurements. Under irradiation, obvious photo-reduced DNA cleavages were observed in the two complexes via singlet oxygen generation. Furthermore, complex 2 showed higher DNA affinity, photocleavage activity, and singlet oxygen quantum yields than complex 1. The two complexes showed no toxicity towards tumor cells (HeLa, A549, and A375) in the dark. However, obvious photocytotoxicities were observed in the two complexes. Complex 2 exhibited large PIs (phototherapeutic indices) (ca. 400) towards HeLa cells. The study suggests that these complexes may act as DNA intercalators, DNA photocleavers, and photocytotoxic agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Nucleic Acid Probe in Analysis and Detection)
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Article
Application of an LC–MS/MS Method for the Simultaneous Quantification of Homovanillic Acid and Vanillylmandelic Acid for the Diagnosis and Follow-Up of Neuroblastoma in 357 Patients
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3470; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113470 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 453
Abstract
Homovanillic acid (HVA) and vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) are end-stage metabolites of catecholamine and are clinical biomarkers for the diagnosis of neuroblastoma. For the first time in Korea, we implemented and validated a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) assay to measure urinary concentrations [...] Read more.
Homovanillic acid (HVA) and vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) are end-stage metabolites of catecholamine and are clinical biomarkers for the diagnosis of neuroblastoma. For the first time in Korea, we implemented and validated a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) assay to measure urinary concentrations of HVA and VMA according to Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines. Our LC–MS/MS assay with minimal sample preparation was validated for linearity, lower limit of detection (LOD), lower limit of quantification (LLOQ), precision, accuracy, extraction recovery, carryover, matrix effect, and method comparison. A total of 1209 measurements was performed to measure HVA and VMA in spot urine between October 2019 and September 2020. The relationship between the two urinary markers, HVA and VMA, was analyzed and exhibited high agreement (89.1% agreement, kappa’s k = 0.6) and a strong correlation (Pearson’s r = 0.73). To our knowledge, this is the first study to utilize LC–MS/MS for simultaneous quantitation of spot urinary HVA and VMA and analyze the clinical application of both markers on a large scale for neuroblastoma patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of LC–MS/MS to Biochemistry)
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Article
Impact of Crystal Habit on the Dissolution Rate and In Vivo Pharmacokinetics of Sorafenib Tosylate
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3469; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113469 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 538
Abstract
The dissolution rate is the rate-limiting step for Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) class II drugs to enhance their in vivo pharmacokinetic behaviors. There are some factors affecting the dissolution rate, such as polymorphism, particle size, and crystal habit. In this study, to improve [...] Read more.
The dissolution rate is the rate-limiting step for Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) class II drugs to enhance their in vivo pharmacokinetic behaviors. There are some factors affecting the dissolution rate, such as polymorphism, particle size, and crystal habit. In this study, to improve the dissolution rate and enhance the in vivo pharmacokinetics of sorafenib tosylate (Sor-Tos), a BCS class II drug, two crystal habits of Sor-Tos were prepared. A plate-shaped crystal habit (ST-A) and a needle-shaped crystal habit (ST-B) were harvested by recrystallization from acetone (ACN) and n-butanol (BuOH), respectively. The surface chemistry of the two crystal habits was determined by powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) data, molecular modeling, and face indexation analysis, and confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) data. The results showed that ST-B had a larger hydrophilic surface than ST-A, and subsequently a higher dissolution rate and a substantial enhancement of the in vivo pharmacokinetic performance of ST-B. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Poorly Soluble Drugs)
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Article
Understanding the Effects of Crosslinking and Reinforcement Agents on the Performance and Durability of Biopolymer Films for Cultural Heritage Protection
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3468; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113468 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 470
Abstract
In the last two decades, the naturally occurring polysaccharides, such as chitosan and pectin, have gained great attention having potential applications in different sectors, from biomedical to new generation packaging. Currently, the chitosan and pectic have been proposed as suitable materials also for [...] Read more.
In the last two decades, the naturally occurring polysaccharides, such as chitosan and pectin, have gained great attention having potential applications in different sectors, from biomedical to new generation packaging. Currently, the chitosan and pectic have been proposed as suitable materials also for the formulation of films and coatings for cultural heritage protection, as well as packaging films. Therefore, the formulation of biopolymer films, considering only naturally occurring polymers and additives, is a current challenging trend. This work reports on the formulation of chitosan (CS), pectin (PC), and chitosan:pectin (CS:PC) films, also containing natural crosslinking and reinforcement agents, such as citric acid (CA) and halloysite nanotubes (HNT), through the solvent casting technique. The produced films are characterized through water contact angle measurements, infrared and UV–visible spectroscopy and tensile test, while the durability of the CS:PC films is evaluated subjecting the film to accelerated UVB exposure and monitoring the photo-oxidation degradation in time though infrared spectroscopy. All obtained results suggest that both crosslinking and reinforcement agents have beneficial effects on the wettability, rigidity, and photo-oxidation resistance of biopolymer films. Therefore, these biopolymer films, also containing naturally occurring additives, have good properties and performance and they are suitable as coverage films for cultural heritage protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Investigation of Polymer Nanocomposites' Performance)
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Article
Paclitaxel-Loaded Magnetic Nanoparticles Based on Biotinylated N-Palmitoyl Chitosan: Synthesis, Characterization and Preliminary In Vitro Studies
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3467; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113467 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 538
Abstract
A considerable interest in cancer research is represented by the development of magnetic nanoparticles based on biofunctionalized polymers for controlled-release systems of hydrophobic chemotherapeutic drugs targeted only to the tumor sites, without affecting normal cells. The objective of the paper is to present [...] Read more.
A considerable interest in cancer research is represented by the development of magnetic nanoparticles based on biofunctionalized polymers for controlled-release systems of hydrophobic chemotherapeutic drugs targeted only to the tumor sites, without affecting normal cells. The objective of the paper is to present the synthesis and in vitro evaluation of the nanocomposites that include a magnetic core able to direct the systems to the target, a polymeric surface shell that provides stabilization and multi-functionality, a chemotherapeutic agent, Paclitaxel (PTX), and a biotin tumor recognition layer. To our best knowledge, there are no studies concerning development of magnetic nanoparticles obtained by partial oxidation, based on biotinylated N-palmitoyl chitosan loaded with PTX. The structure, external morphology, size distribution, colloidal and magnetic properties analyses confirmed the formation of well-defined crystalline magnetite conjugates, with broad distribution, relatively high saturation magnetization and irregular shape. Even if the ability of the nanoparticles to release the drug in 72 h was demonstrated, further complex in vitro and in vivo studies will be performed in order to validate the magnetic nanoparticles as PTX delivery system. Full article
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Article
Design, Synthesis, Biological Evaluation and Silico Prediction of Novel Sinomenine Derivatives
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3466; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113466 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 529
Abstract
Sinomenine is a morphinan alkaloid with a variety of biological activities. Its derivatives have shown significant cytotoxic activity against different cancer cell lines in many studies. In this study, two series of sinomenine derivatives were designed and synthesized by modifying the active positions [...] Read more.
Sinomenine is a morphinan alkaloid with a variety of biological activities. Its derivatives have shown significant cytotoxic activity against different cancer cell lines in many studies. In this study, two series of sinomenine derivatives were designed and synthesized by modifying the active positions C1 and C4 on the A ring of sinomenine. Twenty-three compounds were synthesized and characterized by spectroscopy (IR, 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR, and HRMS). They were further evaluated for their cytotoxic activity against five cancer cell lines, MCF-7, Hela, HepG2, SW480 and A549, and a normal cell line, Hek293, using MTT and CCK8 methods. The chlorine-containing compounds exhibited significant cytotoxic activity compared to the nucleus structure of sinomenine. Furthermore, we searched for cancer-related core targets and verified their interaction with derivatives through molecular docking. The chlorine-containing compounds 5g, 5i, 5j, 6a, 6d, 6e, and 6g exhibited the best against four core targets AKT1, EGFR, HARS and KARS. The molecular docking results were consistent with the cytotoxic results. Overall, results indicate that chlorine-containing derivatives might be a promising lead for the development of new anticancer agents. Full article
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Article
Biochemical Studies in Perfundates and Homogenates of Isolated Porcine Kidneys after Flushing with Zinc or Zinc–Prolactin Modified Preservation Solution Using a Static Cold Storage Technique
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3465; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113465 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 532
Abstract
Zinc is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant trace element. The aim of this study was to analyse the protective effect of zinc and zinc–prolactin systems as additives of preservation solutions in the prevention of nephron damage caused during ischemia. The study used a [...] Read more.
Zinc is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant trace element. The aim of this study was to analyse the protective effect of zinc and zinc–prolactin systems as additives of preservation solutions in the prevention of nephron damage caused during ischemia. The study used a model for storing isolated porcine kidneys in Biolasol®. The solution was modified with the addition of Zn at a dose of 1 µg/L and Zn: 1 µg/L with prolactin (PRL): 0.1 µg/L. After 2 h and 48 h of storage, the levels of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, sodium, potassium, creatinine and total protein were determined. Zinc added to the Biolasol® composition at a dose of 1 µg/L showed minor effectiveness in the protection of nephrons. In turn, Zn2+ added to Biolasol + PRL (PRL: 0.1 µg/L) acted as a prolactin inhibitor. We do not recommend the addition of Zn(II) (1 µg/L) and Zn(II) (1 µg/L) + PRL (0.1 µg/L) to the Biolasol solution. Full article
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Communication
Pyrrolizidine-Derived Alkaloids: Highly Toxic Components in the Seeds of Crotalaria cleomifolia Used in Popular Beverages in Madagascar
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3464; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113464 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 347
Abstract
Seeds of Crotalaria cleomifolia (Fabaceae) are consumed in Madagascar in preparation of popular beverages. The investigation of extracts from the seeds of this species revealed the presence of high amounts of alkaloids from which two pyrrolizidine-derived alkaloids were isolated. One of them was [...] Read more.
Seeds of Crotalaria cleomifolia (Fabaceae) are consumed in Madagascar in preparation of popular beverages. The investigation of extracts from the seeds of this species revealed the presence of high amounts of alkaloids from which two pyrrolizidine-derived alkaloids were isolated. One of them was fully characterized by spectroscopic and spectrometric methods, which was found to be usaramine. Owing to the high toxicity of these alkaloids, issuing a strong warning among populations consuming the seeds of Crotalaria cleomifolia must be considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Bioactive Compounds)
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Review
Emergent Approaches to Efficient and Sustainable Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3463; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113463 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Petroleum-derived plastics dominate currently used plastic materials. These plastics are derived from finite fossil carbon sources and were not designed for recycling or biodegradation. With the ever-increasing quantities of plastic wastes entering landfills and polluting our environment, there is an urgent need for [...] Read more.
Petroleum-derived plastics dominate currently used plastic materials. These plastics are derived from finite fossil carbon sources and were not designed for recycling or biodegradation. With the ever-increasing quantities of plastic wastes entering landfills and polluting our environment, there is an urgent need for fundamental change. One component to that change is developing cost-effective plastics derived from readily renewable resources that offer chemical or biological recycling and can be designed to have properties that not only allow the replacement of current plastics but also offer new application opportunities. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) remain a promising candidate for commodity bioplastic production, despite the many decades of efforts by academicians and industrial scientists that have not yet achieved that goal. This article focuses on defining obstacles and solutions to overcome cost-performance metrics that are not sufficiently competitive with current commodity thermoplastics. To that end, this review describes various process innovations that build on fed-batch and semi-continuous modes of operation as well as methods that lead to high cell density cultivations. Also, we discuss work to move from costly to lower cost substrates such as lignocellulose-derived hydrolysates, metabolic engineering of organisms that provide higher substrate conversion rates, the potential of halophiles to provide low-cost platforms in non-sterile environments for PHA formation, and work that uses mixed culture strategies to overcome obstacles of using waste substrates. We also describe historical problems and potential solutions to downstream processing for PHA isolation that, along with feedstock costs, have been an Achilles heel towards the realization of cost-efficient processes. Finally, future directions for efficient PHA production and relevant structural variations are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers and Biopolymers III)
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Article
Chemical Composition of Volatile Compounds in Apis mellifera Propolis from the Northeast Region of Pará State, Brazil
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3462; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113462 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Propolis is a balsamic product obtained from vegetable resins by exotic Africanized bees Apis mellifera L., transported and processed by them, originating from the activity that explores and maintains these individuals. Because of its vegetable and natural origins, propolis is a complex mixture [...] Read more.
Propolis is a balsamic product obtained from vegetable resins by exotic Africanized bees Apis mellifera L., transported and processed by them, originating from the activity that explores and maintains these individuals. Because of its vegetable and natural origins, propolis is a complex mixture of different compound classes; among them are the volatile compounds present in the aroma. In this sense, in the present study we evaluated the volatile fraction of propolis present in the aroma obtained by distillation and simultaneous extraction, and its chemical composition was determined using coupled gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and flame ionization detection. The majority of compounds were sesquiterpene and hydrocarbons, comprising 8.2–22.19% α-copaene and 6.2–21.7% β-caryophyllene, with additional compounds identified in greater concentrations. Multivariate analysis showed that samples collected from one region may have different chemical compositions, which may be related to the location of the resin’s production. This may be related to other bee products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Essential Oils 2021)
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Article
Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Polymerase with New Nucleoside Analogues
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3461; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113461 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 698
Abstract
Despite the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are already available on the market, there have not been any effective FDA-approved drugs to treat this disease. There are several already known drugs that through drug repositioning have shown an inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA [...] Read more.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are already available on the market, there have not been any effective FDA-approved drugs to treat this disease. There are several already known drugs that through drug repositioning have shown an inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. These drugs are included in the family of nucleoside analogues. In our efforts, we synthesized a group of new nucleoside analogues, which are modified at the sugar moiety that is replaced by a quinazoline entity. Different nucleobase derivatives are used in order to increase the inhibition. Five new nucleoside analogues were evaluated with in vitro assays for targeting polymerase of SARS-CoV-2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medicinal Chemistry)
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Article
The Investigation on Ultrafast Pulse Formation in a Tm–Ho-Codoped Mode-Locking Fiber Oscillator
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3460; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113460 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 584
Abstract
We experimentally investigate the formation of various pulses from a thulium–holmium (Tm–Ho)-codoped nonlinear polarization rotation (NPR) mode-locking fiber oscillator. The ultrafast fiber oscillator can simultaneously operate in the noise-like and soliton mode-locking regimes with two different emission wavelengths located around 1947 and 2010 [...] Read more.
We experimentally investigate the formation of various pulses from a thulium–holmium (Tm–Ho)-codoped nonlinear polarization rotation (NPR) mode-locking fiber oscillator. The ultrafast fiber oscillator can simultaneously operate in the noise-like and soliton mode-locking regimes with two different emission wavelengths located around 1947 and 2010 nm, which are believed to be induced from the laser transition of Tm3+ and Ho3+ ions respectively. When the noise-like pulse (NLP) and soliton pulse (SP) co-exist inside the laser oscillator, a maximum output power of 295 mW is achieved with a pulse repetition rate of 19.85-MHz, corresponding to a total single pulse energy of 14.86 nJ. By adjusting the wave plates, the fiber oscillator could also deliver the dual-NLPs or dual-SPs at dual wavelengths, or single NLP and single SP at one wavelength. The highest 61-order harmonic soliton pulse and 33.4-nJ-NLP are also realized respectively with proper design of the fiber cavity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Lasers and Optoelectronics)
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Review
Bisindole Alkaloids from the Alstonia Species: Recent Isolation, Bioactivity, Biosynthesis, and Synthesis
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3459; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113459 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 769
Abstract
Bisindoles are structurally complex dimers and are intriguing targets for partial and total synthesis. They exhibit stronger biological activity than their corresponding monomeric units. Alkaloids, including those containing C-19 methyl-substitution in their monomeric units, their synthetic derivatives, and their mismatched pairs can be [...] Read more.
Bisindoles are structurally complex dimers and are intriguing targets for partial and total synthesis. They exhibit stronger biological activity than their corresponding monomeric units. Alkaloids, including those containing C-19 methyl-substitution in their monomeric units, their synthetic derivatives, and their mismatched pairs can be attractive targets for synthesis and may unlock better drug targets. We herein discuss the isolation of bisindoles from various Alstonia species, their bioactivity, putative biosynthesis, and synthesis. The total synthesis of macralstonidine, macralstonine, O-acetylmacralstonine, and dispegatrine, as well as the partial synthesis of alstonisidine, villalstonine, and macrocarpamine are also discussed in this review. The completion of the total synthesis of pleiocarpamine by Sato et al. completes the formal synthesis of the latter two bisindoles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alkaloids in Future Drug Discovery)
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Review
Epigenetic and Transcriptional Control of the Opioid Prodynorphine Gene: In-Depth Analysis in the Human Brain
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3458; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113458 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Neuropeptides serve as neurohormones and local paracrine regulators that control neural networks regulating behavior, endocrine system and sensorimotor functions. Their expression is characterized by exceptionally restricted profiles. Circuit-specific and adaptive expression of neuropeptide genes may be defined by transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms controlled [...] Read more.
Neuropeptides serve as neurohormones and local paracrine regulators that control neural networks regulating behavior, endocrine system and sensorimotor functions. Their expression is characterized by exceptionally restricted profiles. Circuit-specific and adaptive expression of neuropeptide genes may be defined by transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms controlled by cell type and subtype sequence-specific transcription factors, insulators and silencers. The opioid peptide dynorphins play a critical role in neurological and psychiatric disorders, pain processing and stress, while their mutations cause profound neurodegeneration in the human brain. In this review, we focus on the prodynorphin gene as a model for the in-depth epigenetic and transcriptional analysis of expression of the neuropeptide genes. Prodynorphin studies may provide a framework for analysis of mechanisms relevant for regulation of neuropeptide genes in normal and pathological human brain. Full article
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Review
Influencing Factors on the Physicochemical Characteristics of Tea Polysaccharides
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3457; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113457 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 461
Abstract
Tea polysaccharides (TPSs) are one of the main bioactive constituents of tea with various biological activities such as hypoglycemic effect, antioxidant, antitumor, and immunomodulatory. The bioactivities of TPSs are directly associated with their structures such as chemical composition, molecular weight, glycosidic linkages, and [...] Read more.
Tea polysaccharides (TPSs) are one of the main bioactive constituents of tea with various biological activities such as hypoglycemic effect, antioxidant, antitumor, and immunomodulatory. The bioactivities of TPSs are directly associated with their structures such as chemical composition, molecular weight, glycosidic linkages, and conformation among others. To study the relationship between the structures of TPSs and their bioactivities, it is essential to elucidate the structure of TPSs, particularly the fine structures. Due to the vast variation nature of monosaccharide units and their connections, the structure of TPSs is extremely complex, which is also affected by several major factors including tea species, processing technologies of tea and isolation methods of TPSs. As a result of the complexity, there are few studies on their fine structures and chain conformation. In the present review, we aim to provide a detailed summary of the multiple factors influencing the characteristics of TPS chemical structures such as variations of tea species, degree of fermentation, and preparation methods among others as well as their applications. The main aspects of understanding the structural difference of TPSs and influencing factors are to assist the study of the structure and bioactivity relationship and ultimately, to control the production of the targeted TPSs with the most desired biological activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Polysaccharides: Structure, Properties and Application)
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Article
Epilobium angustifolium L. Extracts as Valuable Ingredients in Cosmetic and Dermatological Products
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3456; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113456 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 738
Abstract
Epilobium angustifolium L. is a popular and well-known medicinal plant. In this study, an attempt to evaluate the possibility of using this plant in preparations for the care and treatment of skin diseases was made. The antioxidant, antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties of ethanolic [...] Read more.
Epilobium angustifolium L. is a popular and well-known medicinal plant. In this study, an attempt to evaluate the possibility of using this plant in preparations for the care and treatment of skin diseases was made. The antioxidant, antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties of ethanolic extracts from Epilobium angustifolium (FEE) were assessed. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of extracts chemically composition was performed by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The total polyphenol content (TPC) of biologically active compounds, such as the total content of polyphenols (TPC), flavonoids (TFC), and assimilation pigments, as well as selected phenolic acids, was assessed. FEE was evaluated for their anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties, achieving 68% inhibition of lipoxygenase activity, 60% of collagenase and 49% of elastase. FEE also showed high antioxidant activity, reaching to 87% of free radical scavenging using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 59% using 2,2′-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS). Additionally, in vitro penetration studies were performed using two vehicles, i.e., a hydrogel and an emulsion containing FEE. These studies showed that the active ingredients contained in FEE penetrate through human skin and accumulate in it. The obtained results indicate that E. angustifolium may be an interesting plant material to be applied as a component of cosmetic and dermatological preparations with antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Products and Skin Diseases)
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Article
Amino Acid Profile and Biological Properties of Silk Cocoon as Affected by Water and Enzyme Extraction
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3455; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113455 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
We compared the efficacy for protein extraction of water versus enzymatic extraction. The amino-acid composition, inhibitory activity against enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase, and anti-glycation activities of silk protein extract (SPE) were determined. We used water extraction (100 °C, six hours) and protease-enzymatic extraction. [...] Read more.
We compared the efficacy for protein extraction of water versus enzymatic extraction. The amino-acid composition, inhibitory activity against enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase, and anti-glycation activities of silk protein extract (SPE) were determined. We used water extraction (100 °C, six hours) and protease-enzymatic extraction. The microstructure of silk fibers was obviously different after extraction. The results showed that enzymatic extraction gave the greater values of protein content, amino acids, total phenolic content (TPC), and total flavonoid content (TFC), as well as all biological activities parameters tested, but it also provided a more bitter taste in the extract—contributing amino acids of 51% (arginine, phenylalanine, histidine, valine, tryptophan, isoleucine, and leucine) and less sweet and umami taste contributing amino acids than did water extraction, which could be more suitable to be used as concentrated nutraceuticals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Products in Asia)
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Article
Quality by Design for Development, Optimization and Characterization of Brucine Ethosomal Gel for Skin Cancer Delivery
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3454; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113454 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 514
Abstract
Natural products have been extensively used for treating a wide variety of disorders. In recent times, Brucine (BRU) as one of the natural medications extracted from seeds of nux vomica, was investigated for its anticancer activity. As far as we know, this is [...] Read more.
Natural products have been extensively used for treating a wide variety of disorders. In recent times, Brucine (BRU) as one of the natural medications extracted from seeds of nux vomica, was investigated for its anticancer activity. As far as we know, this is the first study on BRU anticancer activity against skin cancer. Thus, the rational of this work was implemented to develop, optimize and characterize the anticancer activity of BRU loaded ethosomal gel. Basically, thin film hydration method was used to formulate BRU ethosomal preparations, by means of Central composite design (CCD), which were operated to construct (32) factorial design. Two independent variables were designated (phospholipid percentage and ethanol percentage) with three responses (vesicular size, encapsulation efficiency and flux). Based on the desirability function, one formula was selected and incorporated into HPMC gel base to develop BRU loaded ethosomal gel. The fabricated gel was assessed for all physical characterization. In-vitro release investigation, ex-vivo permeation and MTT calorimetric assay were performed. BRU loaded ethosomal gel exhibited acceptable values for the characterization parameters which stand proper for topical application. In-vitro release investigation was efficiently prolonged for 6 h. The flux from BRU loaded ethosome was enhanced screening optimum SSTF value. Finally, in-vitro cytotoxicity study proved that BRU loaded ethosomal gel significantly improved the anticancer activity of the drug against A375 human melanoma cell lines. Substantially, the investigation proposed a strong motivation for further study of the lately developed BRU loaded ethosomal gel as a prospective therapeutic strategy for melanoma treatment. Full article
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Review
Pharmacological Activities of Aminophenoxazinones
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3453; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113453 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 561
Abstract
Aminophenoxazinones are degradation products resulting from the metabolism of different plant species, which comprise a family of natural products well known for their pharmacological activities. This review provides an overview of the pharmacological properties and applications proved by these compounds and their structural [...] Read more.
Aminophenoxazinones are degradation products resulting from the metabolism of different plant species, which comprise a family of natural products well known for their pharmacological activities. This review provides an overview of the pharmacological properties and applications proved by these compounds and their structural derivatives during 2000–2021. The bibliography was selected according to our purpose from the references obtained in a SciFinder database search for the Phx-3 structure (the base molecule of the aminophenoxazinones). Compounds Phx-1 and Phx-3 are among the most studied, especially as anticancer drugs for the treatment of gastric and colon cancer, glioblastoma and melanoma, among others types of relevant cancers. The main information available in the literature about their mechanisms is also described. Similarly, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic activities are presented, including species related directly or indirectly to significant diseases. Therefore, we present diverse compounds based on aminophenoxazinones with high potential as drugs, considering their levels of activity and few adverse effects. Full article
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Article
Untargeted Phytochemical Profile, Antioxidant Capacity and Enzyme Inhibitory Activity of Cultivated and Wild Lupin Seeds from Tunisia
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3452; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113452 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 516
Abstract
Lupin seeds can represent a valuable source of phenolics and other antioxidant compounds. In this work, a comprehensive analysis of the phytochemical profile was performed on seeds from three Lupinus species, including one cultivar (Lupinus albus) and two wild accessions ( [...] Read more.
Lupin seeds can represent a valuable source of phenolics and other antioxidant compounds. In this work, a comprehensive analysis of the phytochemical profile was performed on seeds from three Lupinus species, including one cultivar (Lupinus albus) and two wild accessions (Lupinus cossentinii and Lupinus luteus), collected from the northern region of Tunisia. Untargeted metabolomic profiling allowed to identify 249 compounds, with a great abundance of phenolics and alkaloids. In this regard, the species L. cossentinii showed the highest phenolic content, being 6.54 mg/g DW, followed by L. luteus (1.60 mg/g DW) and L. albus (1.14 mg/g DW). The in vitro antioxidant capacity measured by the ABTS assay on seed extracts ranged from 4.67 to 17.58 mg trolox equivalents (TE)/g, recording the highest values for L. albus and the lowest for L. luteus. The DPPH radical scavenging activity ranged from 0.39 to 3.50 mg TE/g. FRAP values varied between 4.11 and 5.75 mg TE/g. CUPRAC values for lupin seeds ranged from 7.20 to 8.95 mg TE/g, recording the highest for L. cossentinii. The results of phosphomolybdenum assay and metal chelation showed similarity between the three species of Lupinus. The acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition activity was detected in each methanolic extract analyzed with similar results. Regarding the butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) enzyme, it was weakly inhibited by the Lupinus extracts; in particular, the highest activity values were recorded for L. albus (1.74 mg GALAE/g). Overall, our results showed that L. cossentinii was the most abundant source of polyphenols, consisting mainly in tyrosol equivalents (5.82 mg/g DW). Finally, significant correlations were outlined between the phenolic compounds and the in vitro biological activity measured, particularly when considering flavones, phenolic acids and lower-molecular-weight phenolics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integration Between Food Chemistry and Health in Focus)
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Article
MWCNT Decorated Rich N-Doped Porous Carbon with Tunable Porosity for CO2 Capture
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3451; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113451 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Designing of porous carbon system for CO2 uptake has attracted a plenty of interest due to the ever-increasing concerns about climate change and global warming. Herein, a novel N rich porous carbon is prepared by in-situ chemical oxidation polyaniline (PANI) on a [...] Read more.
Designing of porous carbon system for CO2 uptake has attracted a plenty of interest due to the ever-increasing concerns about climate change and global warming. Herein, a novel N rich porous carbon is prepared by in-situ chemical oxidation polyaniline (PANI) on a surface of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), and then activated with KOH. The porosity of such carbon materials can be tuned by rational introduction of MWCNTs, adjusting the amount of KOH, and controlling the pyrolysis temperature. The obtained M/P-0.1-600-2 adsorbent possesses a high surface area of 1017 m2 g−1 and a high N content of 3.11 at%. Such M/P-0.1-600-2 adsorbent delivers an enhanced CO2 capture capability of 2.63 mmol g−1 at 298.15 K and five bars, which is 14 times higher than that of pristine MWCNTs (0.18 mmol g−1). In addition, such M/P-0.1-600-2 adsorbent performs with a good stability, with almost no decay in a successive five adsorption-desorption cycles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano Environmental Materials)
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Article
Enhanced Oral Absorption of Icaritin by Using Mixed Polymeric Micelles Prepared with a Creative Acid-Base Shift Method
Molecules 2021, 26(11), 3450; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/molecules26113450 - 06 Jun 2021
Viewed by 546
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to develop mixed polymeric micelles with high drug loading capacity to improve the oral bioavailability of icaritin with Soluplus® and Poloxamer 407 using a creative acid-base shift (ABS) method, which exhibits the advantages of exclusion of [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to develop mixed polymeric micelles with high drug loading capacity to improve the oral bioavailability of icaritin with Soluplus® and Poloxamer 407 using a creative acid-base shift (ABS) method, which exhibits the advantages of exclusion of organic solvents, high drug loading and ease of scaling-up. The feasibility of the ABS method was successfully demonstrated by studies of icaritin-loaded polymeric micelles (IPMs). The prepared IPMs were characterized to have a spherical shape with a size of 72.74 ± 0.51 nm, and 13.18% drug loading content. In vitro release tests confirmed the faster release of icaritin from IPMs compared to an oil suspension. Furthermore, bioavailability of icaritin in IPMs in beagle dogs displayed a 14.9-fold increase when compared with the oil suspension. Transcellular transport studies of IPMs across Caco-2 cell monolayers confirmed that the IPMs were endocytosed in their intact forms through macropinocytosis, clathrin-, and caveolae-mediated pathways. In conclusion, the results suggested that the mixed micelles of Soluplus® and Poloxamer 407 could be a feasible drug delivery system to enhance oral bioavailability of icaritin, and the ABS method might be a promising technology for the preparation of polymeric micelles to encapsulate poorly water-soluble weakly acidic and alkaline drugs. Full article
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