Publications by authors named "Paulo Pereira"

301 Publications

Future scenarios impact on land use change and habitat quality in Lithuania.

Environ Res 2021 Apr 5:111101. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Environmental Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Anticipating future land use and land cover (LULC) changes can improve our knowledge of the complexity of human-environment interactions that lead to transformations in the landscape. Therefore, it is key to understand these LULC changes under different scenarios and how they affect habitat quality (HQ) a key indicator for ecosystem services (ES) supply quality. This work aims to study the impacts of LULC changes under different scenarios: business as usual (A0), urbanisation (A1), land abandonment and afforestation (A2) and agriculture intensification (A3) in 2050. To simulate future LULC changes we applied the Cellular Automata (CA) method, and to assess HQ, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) model was used. Spatial autocorrelation was assessed with a Moran's I index and the Getis Ord* hotspot analysis. The result showed that the LULC model calibration and validation were accurate (80%). Between 1990 and 2018 there was an increase in urban areas and forest and woodlands, which was reflected in the A0 scenario in 2050. Under the A1 scenario there was an increase in the urban area (4,628 ha) compared to 2018, and in the most important cities (e.g., Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda) in the scenario A2 there was an increase of 375,820 ha of woodland and forest. Finally, under the scenario A3, a large growth in cropland area (884,030 ha) was identified. HQ model had a better validation using three cover density data (r=0.67), than with imperviousness (r=0.26). A2 scenario showed the highest HQ and A3 scenario have the lowest HQ. The land uses of 1990, 2018, and A3 scenario had a clustered distribution while A0, A1 and A2 showed a random pattern. The results can support policy-makers by assessing the impact of future LULC changes in Lithuania.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.111101DOI Listing
April 2021

Future land-use changes and its impacts on terrestrial ecosystem services: A review.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Mar 24;781:146716. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Environmental Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Terrestrial ecosystem services (ES) are vulnerable to land use and land cover changes (LULCC). These changes are triggered by different drivers of change (e.g., economic, social, political, environmental - climate change). Understanding the potential future LULCC is an effective way to anticipate the impacts on ES supply. In recent years, some researchers applied different spatial modelling methods to assess the potential LULCC future impacts on ES supply, but so far, no systematic review was carried out. This work aims to do a bibliographic review about future LULCC and their implications on ES supply (provisioning, regulating, and cultural services). After a rigorous bibliographic review, we identified 957 papers. However, only 79 papers meet the criteria to be used in the review. The results showed that (i) the studies have been mainly focused on Asia (55.70%) and Europe (17,72%); (ii) the most common and extensively used models to project future LULCC were cellular automata (30.86%), CLUE-S model (8.64%) and Land Change Modeler (8.64%); and (iii) the most used methods to assess future impacts on ES were the InVEST model (24.04%), and equations used in previous works (12.5%). These studies were mainly focused on measuring future impacts on provisioning (44.11%) and regulating services (43.59%). Also, most of the works lack external validation. The diversity of studies evaluated allowed to recognise gaps and outline insights into the current scientific research on this scientific domain, representing an essential contribution to the current state of knowledge by supporting both practitioners and scientists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146716DOI Listing
March 2021

MYOC Gene Sequencing Analysis in Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Patients from the Centre Region of Portugal.

Acta Med Port 2020 Dec 3. Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Institute for Clinical and Biomedical Research (iCBR). Faculty of Medicine. University of Coimbra. Coimbra. Portugal.

Introduction: Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most frequent subtype of glaucoma. Relatives of primary open-angle glaucoma patients have an increased risk of developing the disease, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the disease. MYOC was the first primary open-angle glaucoma-causing gene identified. This study aimed to identify sequence variations in the MYOC gene that may be responsible for the phenotype in a group of primary open-angle glaucoma patients from the Centre Region of Portugal.

Material And Methods: The three coding exons and the proximal splicing junctions of the MYOC gene were studied using a PCR sequencing approach in a group of 99 primary open-angle glaucoma patients.

Results: The sequencing analysis enabled the identification of 20 variants, including four in the promoter region, seven in the introns and nine in exons one and three, of which four were missense variants.

Discussion: Initially, all four missense sequence variations identified were considered candidates to glaucoma causing disease mutations. However, after literature review, only variant c.1334C>T (Ala445Val) remained as likely responsible for mild late-onset normal tension glaucoma.

Conclusion: This is the first study performed in a group of primary open-angle glaucoma patients from the Centre Region of Portugal, contributing to the identification of one genetic variant in the MYOC gene and reinforcing the hypothesis that normal tension glaucoma could be also due to MYOC gene mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.20344/amp.14922DOI Listing
December 2020

Corrigendum: Examining Portuguese High School Students' Attitudes Toward Physical Education.

Front Psychol 2021 26;12:662081. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.604556.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.662081DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7953352PMC
February 2021

Mapping and assessment of landscape aesthetic quality in Lithuania.

J Environ Manage 2021 May 1;286:112239. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Environmental Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Ateities S. 20, Vilnius, Lithuania. Electronic address:

Mapping and assessing landscape aesthetic quality (LAQ) at the national level can provide valuable insights to scientists and policymakers about the general condition of targeted cultural ecosystem service (CES). A generalised view based on unified methodological standards allows comparing LAQ between countries, thus facilitating international environmental management policies. LAQ can be assessed by combining subjective and objective metrics. This approach makes it challenging to map and assess the LAQ at national scale since it requires consensus-based methodologies to be reliably applicable in a broader geographic region. The national-scale studies related to LAQ are not common since they require high computational resources and differ in data accessibility. However, it is crucial to conduct broader LAQ studies to reveal the more general picture of LAQ condition and support (adjust) policy implementation at the national scale. More studies are needed to assess LAQ at the national level. This study aims to map and assess LAQ in Lithuania on the national scale. To achieve this aim, we adapted a LAQ mapping and assessment approach previously applied in Germany at the national scale. Based on previous work, we tested the methodology's transferability by applying it in a different geographical region by using local datasets. In this study, we partially modified sub-indicators calculation methods and performed an additional in-depth analysis to gather more information on LAQ accessibility and condition in Lithuania. Geographic Information Systems modeling and spatial statistics analysis allowed for achieving this aim. The results revealed that agricultural and urban areas had the lowest landscape diversity, naturalness, uniqueness, and LAQ in general, while areas with high ruggedness, forests, protected areas, natural monuments, and heritage sites had the highest LAQ scores. Viewshed analysis showed that a significant part of Lithuanian territory with the highest LAQ values have limited visibility due to terrain energy and undulation. Curonian spit and Nemunas riverbanks are few of high LAQ areas with high visual accessibility potential. The patches with high LAQ were clustered in protected areas, while the lowest LAQ values were observed in agricultural lands and urbanised areas. LAQ CES assessment is critical for higher quality environmental management regulation practices. High LAQ areas may need a better protection and provide wellbeing for the population, while low LAQ areas may require additional restoration effort. It also provides a better understanding of the LAQ condition and contributes to achieve national, European, and global goals related to landscape planning, management, and sustainable development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112239DOI Listing
May 2021

The Pebble/Rho1/Anillin pathway controls polyploidization and axonal wrapping activity in the glial cells of the Drosophila eye.

Dev Biol 2021 May 11;473:90-96. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação Em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, Portugal; IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Portugal. Electronic address:

During development glial cell are crucially important for the establishment of neuronal networks. Proliferation and migration of glial cells can be modulated by neurons, and in turn glial cells can differentiate to assume key roles such as axonal wrapping and targeting. To explore the roles of actin cytoskeletal rearrangements in glial cells, we studied the function of Rho1 in Drosophila developing visual system. We show that the Pebble (RhoGEF)/Rho1/Anillin pathway is required for glia proliferation and to prevent the formation of large polyploid perineurial glial cells, which can still migrate into the eye disc if generated. Surprisingly, this Rho1 pathway is not necessary to establish the total glial membrane area or for the differentiation of the polyploid perineurial cells. The resulting polyploid wrapping glial cells are able to initiate wrapping of axons in the basal eye disc, however the arrangement and density of glia nuclei and membrane processes in the optic stalk are altered and the ensheathing of the photoreceptor axonal fascicles is reduced.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2021.02.002DOI Listing
May 2021

BiRep: A Reputation Scheme to Mitigate the Effects of Black-Hole Nodes in Delay-Tolerant Internet of Vehicles.

Sensors (Basel) 2021 Jan 27;21(3). Epub 2021 Jan 27.

LASIGE, Departamento de Informática, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.

Delay-tolerant networking (DTN) enables communication in disruptive scenarios where issues such as sparse and intermittent connectivity, long and variable delays, high latency, high error rates, or no end-to-end connectivity exist. Internet of Vehicles (IoV) is a network of the future in which integration between devices, vehicles, and users will be unlimited and universal, overcoming the heterogeneity of systems, services, applications, and devices. Delay-tolerant internet of vehicles (DT-IoV) is emerging and becoming a popular research topic due to the critical applications that can be realized, such as software or map update dissemination. For an IoV to work efficiently, a degree of cooperation between nodes is necessary to deliver messages to their destinations. However, nodes might misbehave and silently drop messages, also known as a black-hole attack, degrading network performance. Various solutions have been proposed to deal with black-hole nodes, but most are centralized or require each node to meet every other node. This paper proposes a decentralized reputation scheme called BiRep that identifies and punishes black-hole nodes in DT-IoV. BiRep is tested on the Prophet routing protocol. Simulation results show excellent performance in all scenarios, comparable or better to other reputation schemes, significantly increasing the delivery ratio of messages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/s21030835DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7866179PMC
January 2021

Effects of long-term afforestation and natural grassland recovery on soil properties and quality in Loess Plateau (China).

Sci Total Environ 2021 May 21;770:144833. Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Environment Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, LT-08303 Vilnius, Lithuania.

Long-term afforestation has important implications on soil properties and quality in semi-arid areas. A large-scale afforestation project has been carried out in the Loess Plateau in the last 20 years. This work aims to study the afforestation (Robinia pseudoacacia, Caragana korshinskii and natural grassland recover 10, 20, 30, and 40 years after) impacts on soil properties and quality. The results showed that coverage and root biomass (RB) was the highest 30 years after the restoration in Robinia pseudoacacia and Caragana korshinskii treatments, while the highest 40 years post-restoration in natural grasslands. Sand content and BD showed the highest values 10 years post afforestation in all study areas. Clay, Silt, mean weight diameter (MWD), and geometric mean diameter (GMD) in Robinia pseudoacacia, Caragana korshinskii had the highest values 30 years after the afforestation, while in natural grasslands, this was observed 40 years after. In Robinia pseudoacacia, Caragana korshinskii treatments, soil moisture content (SMC) reached the highest levels 30 years post afforestation at 20-40 and 40-60 cm. Regarding natural grasslands, SMC had the highest values 40 years post-afforestation. Sand content and BD increased with soil depth, while the opposite was identified in RB, clay, silt, MWD, GMD and SMC. In Robinia pseudoacacia and Caragana korshinskii treatments, soil organic matter, total nitrogen, available nitrogen, total phosphorous, and available phosphorus had the highest levels 40 years post-restoration at 0-20 cm, while at 20-40 and 40-60 cm, the highest concentrations were identified 30 years after. In all the treatments, the soil quality index (SQI) was the highest 40 years post-restoration. The values of SQI were always higher in natural grasslands than in Robinia pseudoacacia and Caragana korshinskii treatments. Overall, natural recovery (natural grasslands) is more efficient than afforestation (Robinia pseudoacacia and Caragana korshinskii treatments) in soil quality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144833DOI Listing
May 2021

Perceived exertion and performance modulation: effects of caffeine ingestion and subject expectation.

J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2021 Jan 20. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Optimum Performance Analytics Associates LLC, Apex, NC, USA.

Background: It is well established that caffeine has ergogenic effects on endurance performance. This evidence often comes from studies in which subjects receive either caffeine or placebo in double-blind, randomized and counterbalanced order. Here, we propose a new methodology which aims to estimate the effects of participant expectancy of ergogenic or anti-ergogenic effects on performance.

Methods: Sixteen (16) physically active participants (nonathletes engaged in systematic physical training >3 months, at least three times a week) performed three (3) 30-minute running tests after being told they would be provided with either a harmful treatment (lactic acid), a beneficial treatment (caffeine) or a placebo. In each blinded case, subjects were given caffeine. The velocity and Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) during the time trial were examined in light of the participant's expectancy before and after the endurance event using Bayesian multilevel models.

Results: For pre-exercise expectancy, there is a 92% probability that caffeine expectation decreases RPE (posterior median±SD -0.65±0.36) and a 79% probability that lactic acid expectation increases RPE (posterior median±SD 0.58±0.47) with expectations for placebo and 'not sure' falling in between (posterior median±SD: -0.37±0.32 and -0.22±0.37, respectively). In general, our interventions suggest an 81% probability that caffeine lowers RPE. However, there was no effect of caffeine supplementation on running velocity (median±SD 0.04±0.08 km.h-1).

Conclusions: When a participant believed they are under a potentially positive treatment, their RPE decreased but if they believed themselves to be under a harmful treatment, their RPE increased, regardless of the actual positive intervention; neither caffeine nor the expectancy of a particular intervention improved actual performance as measured by running velocity in a 30-minute period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.21.11659-7DOI Listing
January 2021

Toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics and zinc oxide to mice.

Chemosphere 2021 May 30;271:129476. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biotecnologia e Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Instituto de Patologia Tropical e Saúde Pública, Goiânia, Brazil; Programa de Pós-Graduação em Conservação de Recursos Naturais do Cerrado, Instituto Federal Goiano - Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil. Electronic address:

The toxicity of zinc oxide (ZnO NPs) and polystyrene nanoplastics (PS NaPs) has been tested in different animal models; however, knowledge about their impact on mice remains incipient. The aim of the current study is to evaluate the effects of these nanomaterials on Swiss mice after their individual exposure to a binary combination of them. The goal was to investigate whether short exposure (three days) to an environmentally relevant dose (14.6 ng/kg, i.p.) of these pollutants would have neurotoxic, biochemical and genotoxic effects on the modelss. Data in the current study have shown that the individual exposure of these animals has led to cognitive impairment based on the object recognition test, although the exposure experiment did not cause locomotor and anxiogenic or anxiolitic-like behavioral changes in them. This outcome was associated with increased nitric oxide levels, thiobarbituric acid reactive species, reduction in acetylcholinesterase activity and with the accumulation of nanomaterials in their brains. Results recorded for the assessed parameters did not differ between the control group and the groups exposed to the binary combination of pollutants. However, both the individual and the combined exposures caused erythrocyte DNA damages associated with hypercholesterolemic and hypertriglyceridemic conditions due to the presence of nanomaterials. Based on the results, the toxicological potential of ZnO NPs and PS NaPs in the models was confirmed and it encouraged further in-depth investigations about factors explaining the lack of additive or synergistic effect caused by the combined exposure to the assessed pollutants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.129476DOI Listing
May 2021

Effect of chemical treatment of pineapple crown fiber in the production, chemical composition, crystalline structure, thermal stability and thermal degradation kinetic properties of cellulosic materials.

Carbohydr Res 2021 Jan 23;499:108227. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Fatigue and Aeronautical Material Research Group, Department of Materials and Technology, São Paulo State University (Unesp), School of Engineering, Guaratinguetá, 12516-410, São Paulo, Brazil.

Recently, the growing environmental concerns and economic demands have driven the need to develop effective solutions for the treatment of vegetal fibers to be used as renewable source for various industrial applications. The present study aimed to explore pineapple crown fibers (PCs) as an alternative source of cellulose. The three treatments (alcohol-insoluble residue (AIR), alkaline (AT), and organosolv) evaluated promoted chemical and morphological changes to the PCs. Fresh and treated PCs were characterized by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermogravimetric analysis (TG), and chemical composition. The XRD results showed that the Cellulose-I allomorph was not altered during extraction, and that the crystallinity index of the fibers treated with AT, first bleaching step, second bleaching step, and the second bleaching step followed by KOH treatment (2B_KOH) increased to 77.8; 83.2; 83.5 and 86% when compared with fresh PC (62.3%). Results from the thermal analysis revealed that thermal stability increased for the isolated cellulose, and the maximum degradation for (2B_KOH) is 350 °C. Chemical composition results showed a decrease in the content of hemicellulose, lignin and other soluble materials after alkaline treatment, suggesting high-quality 2B_KOH with 74.6% of cellulose. SEM revealed changes in the morphological structure on fibers. Alkaline treatment followed by HO bleaching is an excellent alternative for the removal of non-cellulosic material and facilitates the isolation of cellulose. These results suggested that there is a potential to isolate cellulose from PC via the sequence of treatment of a methodology by chlorite-free.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carres.2020.108227DOI Listing
January 2021

Nanoencapsulated hypericin in P-123 associated with photodynamic therapy for the treatment of dermatophytosis.

J Photochem Photobiol B 2021 Feb 14;215:112103. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Department of Analysis Clinics & Biomedicine, State University of Maringá, Paraná, Brazil. Electronic address:

The antifungal application of photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been widely explored. According to superficial nature of tinea capitis and the facility of application of light sources, the use of nanoencapsulated hypericin in P-123 associated with PDT (P123-Hy-PDT) has been a poweful tool to treat this pathology. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the efficiency of P123-Hy-PDT against planktonic cells and in a murine model of dermatophytosis caused by Microsporum canis. In vitro antifungal susceptibility and in vivo efficiency tests were performed, including a skin toxicity assay, analysis of clinical signs by evaluating score, and photoacoustic spectroscopy. In addition, tissue analyses by histopathology and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as quantitative and qualitative antifungal assays, were employed. The in vitro assays demonstrated antifungal susceptibility with 6.25 and 12.5 μmol/L P123-Hy-PDI; these experiments are the first that have used this treatment of animals. P123-Hyp-mediated PDT showed neither skin nor biochemical alteration in vivo; it was safe for dermatophytosis treatment. Additionally, the treatment revealed rapid improvement in clinical signs at the site of infection after only three treatment sessions, with a clinical score confirmed by photoacoustic spectroscopy. The mycological reduction occurred after six treatment sessions, with a statistically significant decrease compared with untreated infected animals. These findings showed that P123-Hy-PDT restored tissue damage caused by infection, a phenomenon confirmed by histopathological analysis and proinflammatory cytokine levels. Our results reveal for the first time that P123-Hy-PDT is a promising treatment for tinea capitis and tinea corporis caused by M. canis, because it showed rapid clinical improvement and mycological reduction without causing toxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2020.112103DOI Listing
February 2021

Spatial distribution characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing and its relationship with environmental factors.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Mar 10;761:144257. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Environmental Management Center, Mykolas Romeris University, Ateities g. 20, LT-08303 Vilnius, Lithuania.

Investigating the spatial distribution characteristics of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and exploring the influence of environmental factors that drive it is the basis for formulating rational and efficient prevention and control countermeasures. Therefore, this study aims to analyze the spatial distribution characteristics of COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing and its relationship with the environmental factors. Based on the incidences of new local COVID-19 cases in Beijing from June 11 to July 5, the spatial clustering characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing was investigated using spatial autocorrelation analysis. The relation between COVID-19 cases and environmental factors was assessed using the Spearman correlation analysis. Finally, geographically weighted regression (GWR) was applied to explore the influence of environmental factors on the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases. The results showed that the development of COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing from June 11 to July 5 could be divided into two stages. The first stage was the outward expansion from June 11 to June 21, and the second stage (from June 22 to July 5) was the growth of the transmission in areas with existing previous cases. In addition, there was a ring of low value clusters around the Xinfadi market. This area was the key area for prevention and control. Population density and distance to Xinfadi market were the most critical factors that explained the pandemic development. The findings of this study can provide useful information for the global fighting against COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144257DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7834495PMC
March 2021

Examining Portuguese High School Students' Attitudes Toward Physical Education.

Front Psychol 2020 26;11:604556. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal.

Portugal ranks fourth among countries with the highest rate of overweight population, considering that 67.6% of the Portuguese population over the age of 15 is overweight or obese. To our knowledge, limited studies have investigated students' attitudes toward physical education in Portugal. Such research is necessary because it can provide valuable insights for policy and application in the curriculum development for physical education, which may eventually increase participation in physical and sports activities. This study analyzed students' attitudes toward physical education (PE) according to sociodemographic variables, including grade level, socioeconomic status, and gender, and their participation in extracurricular sports activities and respective PE grades. The sample comprised 476 high school students (from the 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade levels) from five public schools located in Portugal. The Students' Attitudes toward Physical Education Questionnaire was adapted and validated for use with Portuguese students as a two-factor model. Findings show that students generally have a moderately positive attitude toward PE. However, students' positive attitudes tend to decrease throughout high school, which is particularly significant in the 9th grade. Furthermore, students' attitudes are influenced by gender, extracurricular sports practice, and grades. These findings may help stakeholders reflect on how to frame PE in a more meaningful way to create a solid foundation for maintaining an active lifestyle throughout life. Implications for further research and practice are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.604556DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7726129PMC
November 2020

Effects of polystyrene nanoplastics on Ctenopharyngodon idella (grass carp) after individual and combined exposure with zinc oxide nanoparticles.

J Hazard Mater 2021 02 7;403:123879. Epub 2020 Sep 7.

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biotecnologia e Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Instituto de Patologia Tropical e Saúde Pública, Goiânia, Brazil; Laboratório de Pesquisas Biológicas, Instituto Federal Goiano - Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil; Programa de Pós-Graduação em Conservação de Recursos Naturais do Cerrado, Instituto Federal Goiano - Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil. Electronic address:

The toxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) and ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO NPs), in combination is poorly known. Thus, the aim of the current study was to evaluate the effects of PS NPs (760 μg/L) on Ctenopharyngodon idella exposed to it, both in separate and in combination with ZnO NPs (760 μg/L), based on behavioral, biochemical and genotoxic biomarkers. Current data have indicated that PS NPs, for a short exposure period (3 days), both in separate and in combination with nanoparticles, have affected animals' response to the mirror test. On the other hand, all treatments have equally induced C. idella inactivity towards alarm substances and DNA damage. There was increased oxidative stress, mainly in groups exposed to PS NPs (in combination, or not, with nanoparticles); although increased, the evaluated antioxidant levels did not appear to be enough to inhibit the effects of treatment-induced production of free radicals. Together, these results are likely co-responsible for the observed changes. The current study did not observe antagonistic, synergistic or additive effect on animals exposed to the combination between PS NPs and ZnO NPs; however, this outcome should not discourage the performance of similar studies focused on assessing the (eco)toxicity of pollutant mixtures comprising nanomaterials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.123879DOI Listing
February 2021

Nanopolystyrene particles at environmentally relevant concentrations causes behavioral and biochemical changes in juvenile grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella).

J Hazard Mater 2021 02 10;403:123864. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biotecnologia e Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Instituto de Patologia Tropical e Saúde Pública, Goiânia, Brazil; Laboratório de Pesquisas Biológicas, Instituto Federal Goiano- Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil; Programa de Pós-Graduação em Conservação de Recursos Naturais do Cerrado, Instituto Federal Goiano- Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil. Electronic address:

The biometric, behavioral and biochemical toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics (PS NPs) in aquatic freshwater vertebrates and in environmentally relevant concentrations remains poorly known. Thus, using different toxicity biomarkers we tested the hypothesis that the exposure of Ctenopharyngodon idella juveniles to small PS NPs concentrations (0.04 ng/L, 34 ng/L and 34 μg/L), for a short period-of-time, may affect their growth/development, individual and collective behavior, and biochemical parameters. Animals exposed to NPs did not show increased biometric parameters (i.e.: body biomass, total and standard length, peduncle height, head height and visceral somatic and hepatosomatic indices). Despite the lack of damage on the locomotor (open field test) and visual (visual stimulus test) abilities of the evaluated fish, the expected increase in locomotor activity during the vibratory stimulus test was not evident in animals exposed to NPs. Non-exposed animals were the only ones showing increased activity/locomotion time in the presence of the predatory stimulus during the individual anti-predatory response test. The behavior of animals directly confronted with a potential predator has evidenced the influence of NPs on shoals' aggregation and on the distance kept by individuals from the predatory stimulus. These changes were associated with PS NPs accumulation in animals' brains, oxidative stress and increased acetylcholinesterase activity (hepatic and cerebral). Therefore, the current study has confirmed the initial hypothesis and showed that, even at low concentrations, PS NPs can affect the health of C. idella individuals at early life stage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.123864DOI Listing
February 2021

Toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics in Ctenopharyngodon idella juveniles: A genotoxic, mutagenic and cytotoxic perspective.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Jan 24;752:141937. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biotecnologia e Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Instituto de Patologia Tropical e Saúde Pública, Goiânia, Brazil; Laboratório de Pesquisas Biológicas, Instituto Federal Goiano - Campus Urutaí, Urutaí, Brazil. Electronic address:

The increased contamination of surface water with plastic waste is proportional to the increased consumption of products that use them as raw material. However, the impact of these residues on aquatic biota remains limited, mainly when it comes to nanoplastics (NPs). Thus, the aim of the current study is to test the hypothesis that the exposure of Ctenopharyngodon idella juveniles to polystyrene nanoplastics (PS NPs) at low concentrations (0.04 ng/L, 34 ng/L and 34 μg/L), for 20 days, leads to DNA damage and has mutagenic and cytotoxic effects on their erythrocytes. Comet assay enabled observing that DNA damage (inferred from the greater tail length, DNA percentage in the tail and Olive tail moment) induced by PS NPs has increased as the pollutant concentrations have increased, as well as that the formation of micronuclei and other nuclear abnormalities was equitable in animals exposed to this pollutant. On the other hand, there were significant changes in erythrocyte shape and size, oxidative stress generation (NO levels, lipid peroxidation, hydrogen peroxide), antioxidant system inhibition (mediated by total hepatic glutathione) and PS NPs accumulation in the liver and brain of animals exposed to higher concentrations of it. Therefore, the current study has confirmed the initial hypothesis and enhanced the knowledge about the genotoxic, mutagenic and cytotoxic potential of PS NPs in freshwater fish at early developmental stage, relating these effects to biochemical changes and significant accumulation of these nanomaterials. Besides, it is a warning about the (eco) toxicological risk represented by these nanopollutants in aquatic environments. CAPSULE: Polystyrene nanoplastics are capable of inducing DNA damage, mutagenic and cytotoxicity changes in fish.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141937DOI Listing
January 2021

Correlation between clinical outcomes and spinopelvic parameters in patients with lumbar stenosis undergoing decompression surgery.

Eur Spine J 2021 Apr 26;30(4):928-935. Epub 2020 Oct 26.

Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to determine if there is a relation between preoperative sagittal alignment, based on radiographic parameters, and clinical outcomes, after lumbar decompressive procedures, in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

Methods: This study enrolled patients with LSS who underwent lumbar decompressive procedures, between January 2016 and December 2017. Preoperative spinopelvic parameters were measured, and patients were divided into radiological groups according to the median of the following variables: relative lumbar lordosis (measured minus ideal lumbar lordosis), relative pelvic tilt (measured minus ideal pelvic tilt) and sagittal vertical axis (SVA). Clinical outcomes were compared between these groups and included the Core Outcome Measures Index, EuroQoL Five Dimension Questionnaire (EQ-5D) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores before and 1 year after surgery. Further correlation statistics between sagittal radiological measurements and the postoperative outcome scores were performed.

Results: The study included 104 patients. We did not find any clinically important difference in clinical outcomes between radiological groups. However, in correlation analyses we found a significant but weak statistical correlation between relative lumbar lordosis and both preoperative and postoperative ODI, as well as a significant statistical negative correlation between SVA and postoperative EQ-5D.

Conclusion: Preoperative spinopelvic parameters did not significantly correlate with clinical outcomes after decompression surgery for LSS on non-deformity patients. Patients had a comparable improvement after surgery, regardless of their preoperative sagittal alignment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-020-06639-6DOI Listing
April 2021

Metabolomics as a potential tool for the diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency (GHD): a review.

Arch Endocrinol Metab 2020 Oct 21. Epub 2020 Oct 21.

Departamento de Química, Instituto de Ciências Ambientais, Químicas e Farmacêuticas, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Diadema, SP, Brasil,

Metabolomics uses several analytical tools to identify the chemical diversity of metabolites present in organisms. These metabolites are low molecular weight molecules (<1500 Da) classified as a final or intermediary product of metabolic processes. The application of this omics technology has become prominent in inferring physiological conditions through reporting on the phenotypic state; therefore, the introduction of metabolomics into clinical studies has been growing in recent years due to its efficiency in discriminating pathophysiological states. Regarding endocrine diseases, there is a great interest in verifying comprehensive and individualized physiological scenarios, in particular for growth hormone deficiency (GHD). The current GHD diagnostic tests are laborious and invasive and there is no exam with ideal reproducibility and sensitivity for diagnosis neither standard GH cut-off point. Therefore, this review was focussed on articles that applied metabolomics in the search for new biomarkers for GHD. The present work shows that the applications of metabolomics in GHD are still limited, since the little complementarily of analytical techniques, a low number of samples, GHD combined to other deficiencies, and idiopathic diagnosis shows a lack of progress. The results of the research are relevant and similar; however, their results do not provide an application for clinical practice due to the lack of multidisciplinary actions that would be needed to mediate the translation of the knowledge produced in the laboratory, if transferred to the medical setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.20945/2359-3997000000300DOI Listing
October 2020

Liveable cities: Current environmental challenges and paths to urban sustainability.

J Environ Manage 2021 Jan 5;277:111458. Epub 2020 Oct 5.

Environmental Management Center, Mykolas Romeris University, Ateities g. 20, LT-8303, Vilnius, Lithuania. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111458DOI Listing
January 2021

Short-Term Effect of Self-Selected Training Intensity on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Older Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Clin Interv Aging 2020 21;15:1449-1460. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

Graduate Program in Health Sciences, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil.

Purpose: To investigate the short-term effect of self-selected training intensity (SSTI) on ambulatory blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive older women.

Participants And Methods: This is a randomized, single-blind, two-arm, parallel-group controlled trial that included 40 medicated hypertensive older women (64.4±3.6 years; resting systolic 118±19 and diastolic BP 68±9 mmHg). SSTI intervention was performed three times per week, 30-50 minutes per session (n=20). The control group participated in health education meetings once per week (n=20). Ambulatory BP (primary outcome) and six-minute walking test performance (secondary outcome) were assessed at baseline and following 8 weeks of intervention. Heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE, 6-20), and affective valence (ie, feeling scale, -5/+5) were recorded during all SSTI sessions. Intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were used for data analyses.

Results: Fifteen participants from the SSTI group and 17 from the control group completed the study. No differences in ambulatory BP (24-h, awake, and asleep) were observed between SSTI and control groups (intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses; p>0.05). The SSTI group showed a greater six-minute walking test performance than the control group in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses (p<0.05). The participants exercised at 52±10% of HR reserve reported an RPE of 11±1 and an affective valence of 3.4±1.1 over the 8-week period.

Conclusion: SSTI is a feasible approach to induce a more active lifestyle and increase health-related fitness in hypertensive older women, although it does not improve BP control over a short-term period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S260134DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457386PMC
January 2021

Toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics in dragonfly larvae: An insight on how these pollutants can affect bentonic macroinvertebrates.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Jan 24;752:141936. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

Biological Research Laboratory, Post-graduation Program in Conservation of Cerrado Natural Resources, Goiano Federal Institute, Urutaí Campus, Urutaí, GO, Brazil; Post-graduation Program in Biotechnology and Biodiversity, Goiano Federal Institution and Federal University of Goiás, GO, Brazil. Electronic address:

Although nanoplastics (NPs) are known to be toxic to several groups of animals, the effects of such a toxicity on freshwater benthic macroinvertebrate communities remain unknown. Thus, the aim of the current study is to test the hypothesis that polystyrene nanoplastics (PS NPs) (34 μg/L - 48 h of exposure) lead to biochemical damage in Aphylla williamsoni larvae. Data have evidenced high bioaccumulation factor in the analyzed individuals; this finding indicates that, similar to sediments, water is also part of aquatic systems and favors PS NPs retention in dragonfly larvae. Despite the lack of evidence about the interference of these pollutants in the nutritional status of the analyzed animals, their bioaccumulation was associated with REDOX imbalance featured by concomitant increase in the number of evaluated oxidative stress biomarkers (nitric oxide and lipid peroxidation) and antioxidants (antioxidant activity against the DPPH radical and the superoxide dismutase enzyme). On the other hand, the reduced acetylcholinesterase activity observed in larvae exposed to PS NPs has suggested the neurotoxic effect of these pollutants, with potential impact on their nerve and neuromuscular functions. Therefore, the current study is pioneer in showing that PS NPs can affect the health of the investigated larvae, even at small concentrations, for short exposure-time; this outcome reinforces the ecotoxicological risk of these pollutants for freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141936DOI Listing
January 2021

Spatiotemporal tradeoffs and synergies in vegetation vitality and poverty transition in rocky desertification area.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Jan 19;752:141770. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Environment Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Ateities g. 20, LT-08303 Vilnius, Lithuania. Electronic address:

Vegetation recovery and poverty alleviation are critical problems in the karst national designed poor counties (NPDC) in southwest China. However, little information is available about the relationship between poverty and vegetation dynamics in these areas. In this study, we used remote sensing and statistical datasets from 2000 to 2015 to identify the relations between vegetation dynamics and poverty among the NPDC in southwest rocky desertification areas. We estimated the vegetation dynamics using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and poverty with the rural per capita net income. Local indicator of spatial association and the space-time transition type of poverty were applied to identify spatial patterns of the poverty spatial distribution relationship and transition. Also, poverty, natural and ecological governance factors were assessed using the Geo-detector method to uncover the driving factors of karst vegetation. The results showed that vegetation increased significantly (p < 0.05) in karst NPDC (82.82%) and rocky desertification control counties (78.77%). The karst NPDC was significantly clustered. The hot spots of rural per capita net income changed from west and north (2000) to only north (2015) and cold spots changed from east and south (2000) to only south (2015). The rural per capita net income spatiotemporal transition was higher in 2000 than in 2015. We found a weak synergy between vegetation change and poverty type transition in 42.86% of the browning counties, 45.45% in the slowly greening counties, and 43.65% in stable greening counties. However, 57.50% of counties in the quick greening counties showed a tradeoff relationship with the poverty type transition. The rocky desertification rate and ecological engineering measures affected vegetation dynamics importantly. The results will help decision-makers to understand the interdependence between vegetation and poverty. This will contribute to better policies formulation to tackle poverty in the karst rocky desertification area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141770DOI Listing
January 2021

Caffeine Supplementation or Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse Improves Performance.

Int J Sports Med 2021 Feb 26;42(2):147-152. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Laboratory of Physiology and Biokinetic, UNIG Campus V at Itaperuna, Itaperuna, Brazil.

Training volume is one of the critical variables required to promote resistance training benefits (e. g., hypertrophy, muscular strength). Thus, strategies to improve training volume are required. We tested the hypothesis that there is an increase in performance and reduction in the rate of perceived exertion in strength training with caffeine supplementation, carbohydrate mouth rinse, and a synergistic effect of caffeine supplementation plus carbohydrate mouth rinse. We recruited 29 physically active women: 24±4 years, 60.0±7.9 kg, 161.0±6.0 cm. This study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, and crossover one. The subjects performed all sessions of strength training under different conditions: caffeine (6.5 mg·kg body mass); carbohydrate (6 g of maltodextrin rinsed for 10 s); caffeine plus carbohydrate; or placebo. We applied the ANOVA for repeated measures through the null-hypothesis statistical test, and the Bayes factors analyses approach. The subjects showed significant improvement in the total repetitions (P<0.01; BF ~99%) for both lower and upper limb exercises in all conditions compared to placebo without difference among interventions. The rate of perceived exertion (P>0.05) did not differ among interventions. However, BF analyses showed a higher probability of lower RPE for CAF intervention. We conclude that either caffeine supplementation or carbohydrate mouth rinse can improve performance in resistance training. There is no additional effect of caffeine plus carbohydrate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1212-0742DOI Listing
February 2021

Determinations of environmental factors on interactive soil properties across different land-use types on the Loess Plateau, China.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 18;738:140270. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Environmental Management Center, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius 08303, Lithuania.

Soil physical and chemical properties are prerequisites to soil functionality, which depend importantly on land use, climate, and topography. However, previous works gave little consideration to the inherent causalities between properties under environmental influences. Here, we sampled 0-20 cm soil from 82 sites across the entire Yanhe watershed, including forest, shrubland, grassland, and agriculture. We applied structural equation modelling (SEM) to explore the environmental impacts on soil properties. The results showed that clay content (Clay%) in forest and grassland was significantly higher than in the agriculture area and shrubland. Redundancy analysis indicated that the variations of soil properties were explained by environmental factors, specifically in the forest (51.3%), shrubland (71.6%), grassland (77.6%), and agriculture area (95.5%). Hierarchical partition analysis independently extracted dominant factors and found that latitude, precipitation, and elevation were critical in forest and grassland; elevation and precipitation in shrubland; elevation and latitude in agriculture area. SEM identified soil organic carbon (SOC) was directly influenced by total nitrogen (TN) and total potassium (TK) in forest; by TK in shrubland; by TK and bulk density (BD) in grassland; by total phosphorus (TP) and BD in agriculture area. Path analysis on SOC identified different paths in forest, grassland, and agriculture, and the mediators included TN, BD, pH, and TP. These findings indicate that the influence of environmental factors on soil properties should take into account the interactions within soil conditions. Grassland has a good potential regional carbon sequestration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140270DOI Listing
October 2020

Loess Plateau: from degradation to restoration.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 15;738:140206. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

Environmental Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. Electronic address:

United Nations established 2021-2030 as the decade for ecosystem restoration and "prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide". Ecosystem and land degradation are a global phenomenon. As a consequence of land degradation, in the late 1990s, the "Grain for Green Program" (GFGP) was established in Loess Plateau (China). It converted slope farmlands to forest or grassland over the, resulting in a visible "greening" trend. Other effects of GFGP on soil properties, land production, hydrological conditions, ecosystem services, and policy implications are the topics of this Special Issue. This Special Issue includes 17 contributions that cover recent research carried out in Loess Plateau in the mentioned topics at different spatial and temporal scales. The collection of papers presented in this Special Issue discusses critical issues in vegetation restoration and sustainable land management in the region. This Special Issue will contribute to United Nations strategy for ecosystems restoration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140206DOI Listing
October 2020

Modulation of antibiotic resistance by the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum L. in association with light-emitting diodes (LED) lights.

Z Naturforsch C J Biosci 2020 Nov;75(11-12):377-387

Caririense Graduation Center, Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara, Brazil.

This study aimed to evaluate the antibacterial and antibiotic-enhancing effects of the essential oil obtained from Ocimum gratissimum L. (OEOg) alone or in association with light-emitting diodes (LED) lights. The essential oil was obtained by hydrodistillation and its chemical composition analysed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. The antibacterial and antibiotic-enhancing activities against multiresistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli were evaluated by the gaseous contact method. The analysis of the photoinductive effect on the antibacterial activity of the OEOg and antibiotics was assessed through exposure to different LED lights (red, blue and yellow). The phytochemical analysis identified five compounds, including eugenol, as the major constituent. The OEOg caused a significant inhibition of the halo, indicating a direct antibacterial effect. Exposure to the LED lights significantly enhanced the activity of the OEOg against E. coli. On the other hand, the action of the essential oil against S. aureus was enhanced by exposure to both blue and yellow lights. The effects of LED light exposure on the activity of conventional antibiotics varied significantly according to the drug and the bacterial strain. However, most combinations of LED lights and the OEOg presented synergistic effects against resistant bacterial strains, indicating enhanced antibacterial activity. Thus, these in vitro findings suggest that both OEOg and LED lights have promising antibacterial effects. Nevertheless, further research is required to evaluate in vivo the potential of these therapies for the treatment of infectious skin diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/znc-2020-0034DOI Listing
November 2020

Isolation and structural characterization of bioactive compound from aqueous extract with anti-myotoxic activity.

Toxicon X 2020 Sep 20;7:100049. Epub 2020 Jun 20.

Laboratório de Biotecnologia de Proteínas e Compostos Bioativos da Amazônia Ocidental, LaBioProt, Centro de Estudos de Biomoléculas Aplicadas à Saúde, CEBio, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, Unidade Rondônia e Universidade Federal de Rondônia, UNIR, Porto Velho, RO, Brazil.

A bioactive compound isolated from the stem extract of through High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was identified via Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) as the aristolochic acid (AA). This compound showed an inhibitory effect over the myotoxic activity of and venoms, being also effective against the indirect hemolytic activity of venom. Besides, AA also inhibited the myotoxic activity of BthTX-I and MTX-II with an efficiency greater than 60% against both myotoxins. Docking predictions revealed an interesting mechanism, through which the AA displays an interaction profile consistent with its inhibiting abilities, binding to both active and putative sites of svPLA. Overall, the present findings indicate that AA may bind to critical regions of myotoxic Asp 49 and Lys49-PLAs from snake venoms, highlighting the relevance of domains comprising the active and putative sites to inhibit these toxins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxcx.2020.100049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7322210PMC
September 2020