Robot-assisted Relaxation Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven an effective tool to address anger and anxiety issues in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Robot-enhanced therapy has been used in psychosocial and educational interventions for children with ASD with promising results. Whenever CBT-based techniques were incorporated in robot-based interventions, they were mainly performed in group sessions. Objectives: The study’s main objective was the implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of a relaxation training intervention for children with ASD, delivered by the social robot NAO. Methods: 20 children (aged 7–12 years) were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of relaxation training implemented twice a week. Two groups were formed: the NAO group (children participated in individual sessions with the support of NAO) and the control group (children participated in individual sessions with the support of the therapist only). Participants received three different relaxation scenarios of increasing difficulty (a breathing scenario, a progressive muscle relaxation scenario and a body scan medication scenario), as well as related homework sheets for practicing. Pre- and post-intervention assessments were conducted using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for parents (SDQ-P). Participants were also asked to complete an open-ended questionnaire to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Parents’ satisfaction was evaluated via a questionnaire and children satisfaction was assessed by a thermometer scale. Results: The study supports the use of relaxation training with the NAO robot as instructor for children with ASD. Parents of enrolled children reported high levels of satisfaction and provided positive ratings of the training acceptability. Children in the NAO group presented greater motivation to complete homework and adopt the learned techniques at home. Conclusions: Relaxation training could be effectively integrated in robot-assisted protocols to help children with ASD regulate emotions and develop self-control.

Pain and Lumbar Muscle Activation before and after Functional Task in Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain

Individuals with non-specific chronic low back pain may present altered movement patterns during functional activities. However, muscle behavior before and after performing a functional task with different load conditions is not yet fully understood. The aim of this study is to analyze lumbar muscle activity before and after performing the functional task of picking up and placing an object on the ground (with and without load) in individuals with nonspecific chronic low back pain. 20 subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and 20 healthy subjects participated in this study. A surface electromyography was performed in the ilio-costal, longissimus and multifidus muscles to evaluate lumbar muscle activity before and after performing the functional task of picking up and placing an object on the ground, with and without load. The symptomatic participants had greater lumbar muscle activation compared to the asymptomatic group, more evident in performing the task without load, with statistically significant difference (p = 0,033) between groups for the right multifidus muscle. This study showed that individuals with nonspecific chronic low back pain have higher muscle activation before and after performing a functional task compared to healthy participants.

Improving the Utilization of Telfairia occidentalis Leaf Meal with Cellulase-Glucanase-Xylanase Combination and Selected Probiotic in Broiler Diets

Telfairia occidentalis is a leafy vegetable commonly grown in the tropics for nutritional benefits. The use of enzymes and probiotics is becoming prominent due to the ban on antibiotics as growth promoters in many parts of the world. It is conceived that with enzymes and probiotics additives, fibrous leafy vegetables can be incorporated into poultry feeds as protein source. However, certain antinutrients were also found in the leaves of Telfairia occidentalis. Four broiler starter and finisher diets were formulated for the two phases of the broiler experiments. A mixture of fiber degrading enzymes, Roxazyme G2 (combination of cellulase, glucanase and xylanase) and probiotics (Turbotox), a growth promoter, were used in broiler diets at 1:1. The Roxazyme G2/Turbotox mixtures were used in diets containing four varying levels of Telfairia occidentalis leaf meal (TOLM) at 0, 10, 20 and 30%. Diets 1 were standard broiler diets without TOLM and Roxazyme G2 and Turbotox additives. Diets 2, 3 and 4 had enzymes and probiotics additives. Certain mineral elements such as Ca, P, K, Na, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu and Zn were found in notable quantities viz. 2.6 g/100 g, 1.2 g/100 g, 6.2 g/100 g, 5.1 g/100 g, 4.7 g/100 g, 5875 ppm, 182 ppm, 136 ppm and 1036 ppm, respectively. Phytin, phytin-P, oxalate, tannin and HCN were also found in ample quantities viz. 189.2 mg/100 g, 120.1 mg/100 g, 80.7 mg/100 g, 43.1 mg/100 g and 61.2 mg/100 g, respectively. The average weight gain was highest at 46.3 g/bird/day for birds on 10% TOLM diet but similar (P > 0.05) to 46.2 g/bird/day for birds on 20% TOLM. The feed conversion ratio (FCR) of 2.27 was the lowest and optimum for birds on 10% TOLM although similar (P > 0.05) to 2.29 obtained for birds on 20% TOLM. FCR of 2.61 was the highest at 2.61 for birds on 30% TOLM diet. The lowest FCR of 2.27 was obtained for birds on 10% TOLM diet although similar (P > 0.05) to 2.29 for birds on 20% TOLM diet. Most carcass characteristics and organ weights were similar (P > 0.05) for the experimental birds on the different diets except for kidney, gizzard and intestinal length. The values for kidney, gizzard and intestinal length were significantly higher (P < 0.05) for birds on the TOLM diets. The nitrogen retention had the highest value of 72.37 ± 0.10% for birds on 10% TOLM diet although similar (P > 0.05) to 71.54 ± 1.89 obtained for birds on the control diet without TOLM and enzymes/probiotics mixture. There was evidence of a better utilization of TOLM as a plant protein source. The carcass characteristics and organ weights all showed evidence of uniform tissue buildup and muscles development particularly in diets containing 10% of TOLM level. There was also better nitrogen utilization in birds on the 10% TOLM diet. Considering the cheap cost of TOLM, it is envisaged that its introduction into poultry feeds as a plant protein source will ultimately reduce the cost of poultry feeds.

Physiological Effects during Aerobatic Flights on Science Astronaut Candidates

Spaceflight is considered the last frontier in terms of science, technology, and engineering. But it is also the next frontier in terms of human physiology and performance. After more than 200,000 years humans have evolved under earth’s gravity and atmospheric conditions, spaceflight poses environmental stresses for which human physiology is not adapted. Hypoxia, accelerations, and radiation are among such stressors, our research involves suborbital flights aiming to develop effective countermeasures in order to assure sustainable human space presence. The physiologic baseline of spaceflight participants is subject to great variability driven by age, gender, fitness, and metabolic reserve. The objective of the present study is to characterize different physiologic variables in a population of STEM practitioners during an aerobatic flight. Cardiovascular and pulmonary responses were determined in Science Astronaut Candidates (SACs) during unusual attitude aerobatic flight indoctrination. Physiologic data recordings from 20 subjects participating in high-G flight training were analyzed. These recordings were registered by wearable sensor-vest that monitored electrocardiographic tracings (ECGs), signs of dysrhythmias or other electric disturbances during all the flight. The same cardiovascular parameters were also collected approximately 10 min pre-flight, during each high-G/unusual attitude maneuver and 10 min after the flights. The ratio (pre-flight/in-flight/post-flight) of the cardiovascular responses was calculated for comparison of inter-individual differences. The resulting tracings depicting the cardiovascular responses of the subjects were compared against the G-loads (Gs) during the aerobatic flights to analyze cardiovascular variability aspects and fluid/pressure shifts due to the high Gs. In-flight ECG revealed cardiac variability patterns associated with rapid Gs onset in terms of reduced heart rate (HR) and some scattered dysrhythmic patterns (15% premature ventricular contractions-type) that were considered as triggered physiological responses to high-G/unusual attitude training and some were considered as instrument artifact. Variation events were observed in subjects during the +Gz and –Gz maneuvers and these may be due to preload and afterload, sudden shift. Our data reveal that aerobatic flight influenced the breathing rate of the subject, due in part by the various levels of energy expenditure due to the increased use of muscle work during these aerobatic maneuvers. Noteworthy was the high heterogeneity in the different physiological responses among a relatively small group of SACs exposed to similar aerobatic flights with similar Gs exposures. The cardiovascular responses clearly demonstrated that SACs were subjected to significant flight stress. Routine ECG monitoring during high-G/unusual attitude flight training is recommended to capture pathology underlying dangerous dysrhythmias in suborbital flight safety. More research is currently being conducted to further facilitate the development of robust medical screening, medical risk assessment approaches, and suborbital flight training in the context of the evolving commercial human suborbital spaceflight industry. A more mature and integrative medical assessment method is required to understand the physiology state and response variability among highly diverse populations of prospective suborbital flight participants.

Achieving Shear Wave Elastography by a Three-element Probe for Wearable Human-machine Interface

Shear elastic modulus of skeletal muscles can be obtained by shear wave elastography (SWE) and has been linearly related to muscle force. However, SWE is currently implemented using array probes. Price and volumes of these probes and their driving equipment prevent SWE from being used in wearable human-machine interfaces (HMI). Moreover, beamforming processing for array probes reduces the real-time performance. To achieve SWE by wearable HMIs, a customized three-element probe is adopted in this work, with one element for acoustic radiation force generation and the others for shear wave tracking. In-phase quadrature demodulation and 2D autocorrelation are adopted to estimate velocities of tissues on the sound beams of the latter two elements. Shear wave speeds are calculated by phase shift between the tissue velocities. Three agar phantoms with different elasticities were made by changing the weights of agar. Values of the shear elastic modulus of the phantoms were measured as 8.98, 23.06 and 36.74 kPa at a depth of 7.5 mm respectively. This work verifies the feasibility of measuring shear elastic modulus by wearable devices.

Health Risk Assessment of Heavy Metals in Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) from Fish Mongers within Akure Metropolis, Ondo State, Nigeria

The concentration of heavy metal (Cd, Pb, Fe, Zn, Cu) in Clarias gariepinus collected from fish markets; Fanibi (Station I) and Fiwasaye (Station II) in Akure metropolis, Ondo state, Nigeria were investigated to ascertain the safety for the consumers. 60 samples were collected from the two markets in three batches (I, II, III) for a period of six months and analyzed for heavy metals in the gills and muscles of the fish. Also, the Health Risk Index (HRI) was used to determine the health risk of these metals to the consumer. The results showed that the investigated metal concentration was higher in station I than station II, except Pb having higher concentration in station II than station I. In both stations, the highest concentration of Fe was recorded in the gills (12.60 ± 1.51; 6.94 ± 1.38) and muscles (3.72 ± 0.09; 3.86 ± 0.33) of samples in batch I. Also, the HRI revealed that consumption of Clarias gariepinus from these study areas did not pose any health risk (HRI < 1). In addition, concentrations of the heavy metals were all below the permissible limits recommended by FAO/WHO.

Significance of Bike-Frame Geometric Factors for Cycling Efficiency and Muscle Activation

With the advocacy of green transportation and green traveling, cycling has become increasingly popular nowadays. Physiology and bike design are key factors for the influence of cycling efficiency. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the significance of bike-frame geometric factors on cycling efficiency and muscle activation for different body sizes of non-professional Asian male cyclists. Participants who represented various body sizes, as measured by leg and back lengths, carried out cycling tests using a tailor-assembled road bike with different ergonomic design configurations including seat-height adjustments (i.e., 96%, 100%, and 104% of trochanteric height) and bike frame sizes (i.e., small and medium frames) for an assessable distance of 1 km. A specific power meter and self-developed adaptable surface electromyography (sEMG) were used to measure average pedaling power and cadence generated and muscle activation, respectively. The results showed that changing the seat height was far more significant than the body and bike frame sizes. The sEMG data evidently provided a better understanding of muscle activation as a function of different seat heights. Therefore, the interpretation of this study is that the major bike ergonomic design factor dominating the cycling efficiency of Asian participants with different body sizes was the seat height.

Effect of Ambient Oxygen Content and Lifting Frequency on the Participant’s Lifting Capabilities, Muscle Activities, and Perceived Exertion

The aim of this study is to assesses the lifting capabilities of persons experiencing hypoxia. It also examines the behavior of the physiological response induced through the lifting process related to changing in the hypoxia and lifting frequency variables. For this purpose, the study performed two consecutive tests by using; (1) training and acclimatization; and (2) an actual collection of data. A total of 10 male students from King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were recruited in the study. A two-way repeated measures design, with two independent variables (ambient oxygen (15%, 18% and 21%)) and lifting frequency (1 lift/min and 4 lifts/min) and four dependent variables i.e., maximum acceptable weight of lift (MAWL), Electromyography (EMG) of four muscle groups (anterior deltoid, trapezius, biceps brachii, and erector spinae), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and rating of oxygen feeling (ROF) were used in this study. The results show that lifting frequency has significantly impacted the MAWL and muscles’ activities. The oxygen content had a significant effect on the RPE and ROE. The study has revealed that acclimatization and training sessions significantly reduce the effect of the hypoxia on the human physiological parameters during the manual materials handling tasks.

The Effect of Eight Weeks of Aerobic Training on Indices of Cardio-Respiratory and Exercise Tolerance in Overweight Women with Chronic Asthma

Asthma, obesity and overweight are the main factors causing change within the heart and respiratory airways. Asthma symptoms are normally observed during exercising. Epidemiological studies have indicated asthma symptoms occurring due to certain lifestyle habits; for example, a sedentary lifestyle. In this study, eight weeks of aerobic exercises resulted in a positive effect overall in overweight women experiencing mild chronic asthma. The quasi-experimental applied research has been done based on experimental and control groups. The experimental group (seven patients) and control group (n = 7) were graded before and after the test. According to the Borg dyspnea and fatigue Perception Index, the training intensity has determined. Participants in the study performed a sub-maximal aerobic activity schedule (45% to 80% of maximum heart rate) for two months, while the control group (n = 7) stayed away from aerobic exercise. Data evaluation and analysis of covariance compared both the pre-test and post-test with paired t-test at significance level of P≤ 0.05. After eight weeks of exercise, the results of the experimental group show a significant decrease in resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, minute ventilation, while a significant increase in maximal oxygen uptake and tolerance activity (P ≤ 0.05). In the control group, there was no significant difference in these parameters ((P ≤ 0.05). The results indicate the aerobic activity can strengthen the respiratory muscles, while other physiological factors could result in breathing and heart recovery. Aerobic activity also resulted in favorable changes in cardiovascular parameters, and exercise tolerance of overweight women with chronic asthma.

Comparative Effect of Self-Myofascial Release as a Warm-Up Exercise on Functional Fitness of Young Adults

Warm-up is an essential component for optimizing performance in various sports before a physical fitness training session. This study investigated the immediate comparative effect of Self-Myofascial Release through vibration rolling (VR), non-vibration rolling (NVR), and static stretching as a part of a warm-up treatment on the functional fitness of young adults. Functional fitness is a classification of training that prepares the body for real-life movements and activities. For the present study 20male physical education students were selected as subjects. The age of the subjects was ranged from 20-25 years. The functional fitness variables undertaken in the present study were flexibility, muscle strength, agility, static and dynamic balance of the lower extremity. Each of the three warm-up protocol was administered on consecutive days, i.e. 24 hr time gap and all tests were administered in the morning. The mean and SD were used as descriptive statistics. The significance of statistical differences among the groups was measured by applying ‘F’-test, and to find out the exact location of difference, Post Hoc Test (Least Significant Difference) was applied. It was found from the study that only flexibility showed significant difference among three types of warm-up exercise. The observed result depicted that VR has more impact on myofascial release in flexibility in comparison with NVR and stretching as a part of warm-up exercise as ‘p’ value was less than 0.05. In the present study, within the three means of warm-up exercises, vibration roller showed better mean difference in terms of NVR, and static stretching exercise on functional fitness of young physical education practitioners, although the results were found insignificant in case of muscle strength, agility, static and dynamic balance of the lower extremity. These findings suggest that sports professionals and coaches may take VR into account for designing more efficient and effective pre-performance routine for long term to improve exercise performances. VR has high potential to interpret into an on-field practical application means.

Evaluation of Bone and Body Mineral Profile in Association with Protein Content, Fat, Fat-Free, Skeletal Muscle Tissues According to Obesity Classification among Adult Men

Obesity is associated with increased fat mass as well as fat percentage. Minerals are the elements, which are of vital importance. In this study, the relationships between body as well as bone mineral profile and the percentage as well as mass values of fat, fat-free portion, protein, skeletal muscle were evaluated in adult men with normal body mass index (N-BMI), and those classified according to different stages of obesity. A total of 103 adult men classified into five groups participated in this study. Ages were within 19-79 years range. Groups were N-BMI (Group 1), overweight (OW) (Group 2), first level of obesity (FLO) (Group 3), second level of obesity (SLO) (Group 4) and third level of obesity (TLO) (Group 5). Anthropometric measurements were performed. BMI values were calculated. Obesity degree, total body fat mass, fat percentage, basal metabolic rate (BMR), visceral adiposity, body mineral mass, body mineral percentage, bone mineral mass, bone mineral percentage, fat-free mass, fat-free percentage, protein mass, protein percentage, skeletal muscle mass and skeletal muscle percentage were determined by TANITA body composition monitor using bioelectrical impedance analysis technology. Statistical package (SPSS) for Windows Version 16.0 was used for statistical evaluations. The values below 0.05 were accepted as statistically significant. All the groups were matched based upon age (p > 0.05). BMI values were calculated as 22.6 ± 1.7 kg/m2, 27.1 ± 1.4 kg/m2, 32.0 ± 1.2 kg/m2, 37.2 ± 1.8 kg/m2, and 47.1 ± 6.1 kg/m2 for groups 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Visceral adiposity and BMR values were also within an increasing trend. Percentage values of mineral, protein, fat-free portion and skeletal muscle masses were decreasing going from normal to TLO. Upon evaluation of the percentages of protein, fat-free portion and skeletal muscle, statistically significant differences were noted between NW and OW as well as OW and FLO (p < 0.05). However, such differences were not observed for body and bone mineral percentages. Correlation existed between visceral adiposity and BMI was stronger than that detected between visceral adiposity and obesity degree. Correlation between visceral adiposity and BMR was significant at the 0.05 level. Visceral adiposity was not correlated with body mineral mass but correlated with bone mineral mass whereas significant negative correlations were observed with percentages of these parameters (p < 0.001). BMR was not correlated with body mineral percentage whereas a negative correlation was found between BMR and bone mineral percentage (p < 0.01). It is interesting to note that mineral percentages of both body as well as bone are highly affected by the visceral adiposity. Bone mineral percentage was also associated with BMR. From these findings, it is plausible to state that minerals are highly associated with the critical stages of obesity as prominent parameters.

The Impact of Protein Content on Athletes’ Body Composition

Several factors contribute to success in sport and diet is one of them. Evidence-based sport nutrition guidelines underline the importance of macro- and micro-nutrients’ balance and timing in order to improve athlete’s physical status and performance. Nevertheless, a high content of proteins is commonly found in resistance training athletes’ diet with carbohydrate intake that is not enough or not well planned. The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of different protein and carbohydrate diet contents on body composition and sport performance on a group of resistance training athletes. Subjects were divided as study group (n=16) and control group (n=14). For a period of 4 months, both groups were subjected to the same resistance training fitness program with study group following a specific diet and control group following an ab libitum diet. Body compositions were evaluated trough anthropometric measurement (weight, height, body circumferences and skinfolds) and Bioimpedence Analysis. Physical strength and training status of individuals were evaluated through the One Repetition Maximum test (RM1). Protein intake in studied group was found to be lower than in control group. There was a statistically significant increase of body weight, free fat mass and body mass cell of studied group respect to the control group. Fat mass remains almost constant. Statistically significant changes were observed in quadriceps and biceps circumferences, with an increase in studied group. The MR1 test showed improvement in study group’s strength but no changes in control group. Usually people consume hyper-proteic diet to achieve muscle mass development. Through this study, it was possible to show that protein intake fixed at 1,7 g/kg/d can meet the individual's needs. In parallel, the increased intake of carbohydrates, focusing on quality and timing of assumption, has enabled the obtainment of desired results with a training protocol supporting a hypertrophic strategy. Therefore, the key point seems related to the planning of a structured program both from a nutritional and training point of view.

Importance of Macromineral Ratios and Products in Association with Vitamin D in Pediatric Obesity Including Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolisms of macrominerals, those of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, are closely associated with the metabolism of vitamin D. Particularly magnesium, the second most abundant intracellular cation, is related to biochemical and metabolic processes in the body, such as those of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The status of each mineral was investigated in obesity to some extent. Their products and ratios may possibly give much more detailed information about the matter. The aim of this study is to investigate possible relations between each macromineral and some obesity-related parameters. This study was performed on 235 children, whose ages were between 06-18 years. Aside from anthropometric measurements, hematological analyses were performed. TANITA body composition monitor using bioelectrical impedance analysis technology was used to establish some obesity-related parameters including basal metabolic rate (BMR), total fat, mineral and muscle masses. World Health Organization body mass index (BMI) percentiles for age and sex were used to constitute the groups. The values above 99th percentile were defined as morbid obesity. Those between 95th and 99th percentiles were included into the obese group. The overweight group comprised of children whose percentiles were between 95 and 85. Children between the 85th and 15th percentiles were defined as normal. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) components (waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, triacylglycerol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure) were determined. High performance liquid chromatography was used to determine Vitamin D status by measuring 25-hydroxy cholecalciferol (25-hydroxy vitamin D3, 25(OH)D). Vitamin D values above 30.0 ng/ml were accepted as sufficient. SPSS statistical package program was used for the evaluation of data. The statistical significance degree was accepted as p < 0.05. The important points were the correlations found between vitamin D and magnesium as well as phosphorus (p < 0.05) that existed in the group with normal BMI values. These correlations were lost in the other groups. The ratio of phosphorus to magnesium was even much more highly correlated with vitamin D (p < 0.001). The negative correlation between magnesium and total fat mass (p < 0.01) was confined to the MetS group showing the inverse relationship between magnesium levels and obesity degree. In this group, calcium*magnesium product exhibited the highest correlation with total fat mass (p < 0.001) among all groups. Only in the MetS group was a negative correlation found between BMR and calcium*magnesium product (p < 0.05). In conclusion, magnesium is located at the center of attraction concerning its relationships with vitamin D, fat mass and MetS. The ratios and products derived from macrominerals including magnesium have pointed out stronger associations other than each element alone. Final considerations have shown that unique correlations of magnesium as well as calcium*magnesium product with total fat mass have drawn attention particularly in the MetS group, possibly due to the derangements in some basic elements of carbohydrate as well as lipid metabolism.

Development and Usability Assessment of a Connected Resistance Exercise Band Application for Strength-Monitoring

Resistance exercise bands are a core component of any physical activity strengthening program. Strength training can mitigate the development of sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass or strength and function with aging. Yet, the adherence of such behavioral exercise strategies in a home-based setting are fraught with issues of monitoring and compliance. Our group developed a Bluetooth-enabled resistance exercise band capable of transmitting data to an open-source platform. In this work, we developed an application to capture this information in real-time, and conducted three usability studies in two mixed-aged groups of participants (n=6 each) and a group of older adults with obesity participating in a weight-loss intervention (n=20). The system was favorable, acceptable and provided iterative information that could assist in future deployment on ubiquitous platforms. Our formative work provides the foundation to deliver home-based monitoring interventions in a high-risk, older adult population.

Changes in Amino Acids Content in Muscle of European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) in Relation to Body Size

European eels (Anguilla anguilla) belong to Anguilliformes order and Anguillidae family. They are generally classified as warm-water fish. Eels have a great commercial value in Europe and Asian countries. Eels can reach high weights, although their commercial size is relatively low in some countries. The capture of larger eels would facilitate the recovery of the species, as well as having a greater number of either glass eels or elvers for aquaculture. In the last years, the demand and the price of eels have increased significantly. However, European eel is considered critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The biochemical composition of fishes is an important aspect of quality and affects the nutritional value and consumption quality of fish. In addition, knowing this composition can help predict an individual’s condition for their recovery. Fish is known to be important source of protein rich in essential amino acids. However, there is very little information about changes in amino acids composition of European eels with increase in size. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of two different weight categories on the amino acids content in muscle tissue of wild European eels. European eels were caught in River Ulla (Galicia, NW Spain), during winter. The eels were slaughtered in ice water immersion. Then, they were purchased and transferred to the laboratory. The eels were subdivided into two groups, according to the weight. The samples were kept frozen (-20 °C) until their analysis. Frozen eels were defrosted and the white muscle between the head and the anal hole. was extracted, in order to obtain amino acids composition. Thirty eels for each group were used. Liquid chromatography was used for separation and quantification of amino a cids. The results conclude that the eels are rich in glutamic acid, leucine, lysine, threonine, valine, isoleucine and phenylalanine. The analysis showed that there are significant differences (p < 0.05) among the eels with different sizes. Histidine, threonine, lysine, hydroxyproline, serine, glycine, arginine, alanine and proline were higher in small eels. European eels muscle presents between 45 and 46% of essential amino acids in the total amino acids. European eels have a well-balanced and high quality protein source in the respect of E/NE ratio. However, eels with higher weight showed a better ratio of essential and non-essential amino acid.

The Role of Chemerin and Myostatin after Physical Activity

Obesity and overweight is one of the most common metabolic disorders in industrialized countries and in developing countries. One consequence of pathological obesity is cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Chemerin is an adipocyne that plays a role in the regulation of the adipocyte function and the metabolism of glucose in the liver and musculoskeletal system. Most likely, chemerin is involved in obesity-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercises reduce the level of chemerin and cause macrophage penetration into fat cells and inflammatory factors. Several efforts have been made to clarify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hypertrophy and muscular atrophy. Myostatin, a new member of the TGF-β family, is a transforming growth factor β that its expression negatively regulates the growth of the skeletal muscle; and the increase of this hormone has been observed in conditions of muscular atrophy. While in response to muscle overload, its levels decrease after the atrophy period, TGF-β is the most important cytokine in the development of skeletal muscle. Myostatin plays an important role in muscle control, and animal and human studies show a negative role of myostatin in the growth of skeletal muscle. Separation of myostatin from Golgi begins on the ninth day of the onset period and continues until birth at all times of muscle growth. Higher levels of myostatin are found in obese people. Resistance training for 10 weeks could reduce levels of plasma myostatin.

Carcass Characteristics and Qualities of Philippine White Mallard (Anas boschas L.) and Pekin (Anas platyrhynchos L.) Duck

The Philippine White Mallard duck was compared with Pekin duck for potential meat production. A total of 50 ducklings were randomly assigned to five (5) pens per treatment after one month of brooding. Each pen containing five (5) ducks was considered as a replicate. The ducks were raised until 12 weeks of age and slaughtered at the end of the growing period. Meat from both breeds was analyzed. The data were subjected to the Independent-Sample T-test at 5% level of confidence. Results showed that post-mortem pH (0, 20 minutes, 50 minutes, 1 hour and 20 minutes, 1 hour and 50 minutes, and 24 hours ) did not differ significantly (P>0.05) between breeds. However, Pekin ducks (89.84±0.71) had a significantly higher water-holding capacity than Philippine White Mallard ducks (87.93±0.63) (P0.05) except for the yellowness of the lean muscles of the Pekin duck breast. Pekin duck meat (1.15±0.04) had significantly higher crude fat content than Philippine White Mallard (0.47±0.58). The study clearly showed that breed is a factor and provided some pronounced effects among the parameters. However, these results are considered as preliminary information on the meat quality of Philippine White Mallard duck. Hence, further studies are needed to understand and fully utilize it for meat production and develop different meat products from this breed.

The Effect of Four-Week Resistance Exercise along with Milk Consumption on NT-proBNP and Plasma Troponin I

The aim of this study is to investigate four-week resistance exercise and milk supplement on NT-proBNP and plasma troponin I of male students. Concerning the methodology of the study, 21 senior high school students of Ardebil city were selected. The selected subjects were randomly shared in three groups of control, exercise- water and exercise- milk. The exercise program includes resistance exercise for a big muscle group. The subjects of control group rested during the study and did not participate in any training. The subjects of exercise- water experimental group immediately received 400 cc water after exercise and exercise- milk group immediately received 400 cc low fat milk. Control-water groups consumed the same amount of water. 48 hours before and after the last exercise session, the blood sample of the subjects were taken for measuring the variables. NT-proBNP and Troponin I concentrations were measured by ELISA. For data analysis, one-way variance analysis test, correlated t-test and Bonferroni post hoc test were used. The significant difference of p ≤ 0.05 was accepted. Resistance training along with milk consumption leads to increase of plasma NT-proBNP, however; this increase has not reached the significant level. Furthermore, meaningful increase was observed in plasma NT–proBNP in exercise group between pretest and posttest values. Furthermore, no meaningful difference was observed between groups in terms of Troponin I after milk consumption. It seems that endurance exercises lead to change in the structure of heart muscle and is along with an increase of NT-proBNP. Furthermore, there is the possibility that milk consumption can lead to release of heart troponin I. The mechanism through which protein supplements have been put on heart troponin I is unknown and requires more research.

Immunolabeling of TGF-β during Muscle Regeneration

Muscle regeneration after injury (as irradiation) is of great importance. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms are still unclear. Cytokines are believed to play fundamental role in the different stages of muscle regeneration. They are secreted by many cell populations, but the predominant producers are macrophages and helper T cells. On the other hand, it has been shown that adipose tissue derived stromal/stem cell (ASC) injection could improve muscle regeneration. Stem cells probably induce the coordinated modulations of gene expression in different macrophage cells. Therefore, we investigated the patterns and timing of changes in gene expression of different cytokines occurring upon stem cells loading. Muscle regeneration was studied in an irradiated muscle of minipig animal model in presence or absence of ASC treatment (irradiated and treated with ASCs, IRR+ASC; irradiated not-treated with ASCs, IRR; and non-irradiated no-IRR). We characterized macrophage populations by immunolabeling in the different conditions. In our study, we found mostly M2 and a few M1 macrophages in the IRR+ASC samples. However, only few M2b macrophages were noticed in the IRR muscles. In addition, we found intensive fibrosis in the IRR samples. With in situ hybridization and immunolabeling, we analyzed the cytokine expression of the different macrophages and we showed that M2d macrophage are the most abundant in the IRR+ASC samples. By in situ hybridization, strong expression of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) was observed in the IRR+ASC but very week in the IRR samples. But when we analyzed TGF-β level with immunolabeling the expression was very different: many M2 macrophages showed week expression in IRR+ASC and few cells expressing stronger level in IRR muscles. Therefore, we investigated the MMP expressions in the different muscles. Our data showed that the M2 macrophages of the IRR+ASC muscle expressed MMP2 proteins. Our working hypothesis is that MMP2 expression of the M2 macrophages can decrease fibrosis in the IRR+ASC muscle by capturing TGF-β.

Design and Modeling of Human Middle Ear for Harmonic Response Analysis

The human middle ear (ME) is a delicate and vital organ. It has a complex structure that performs various functions such as receiving sound pressure and producing vibrations of eardrum and propagating it to inner ear. It consists of Tympanic Membrane (TM), three auditory ossicles, various ligament structures and muscles. Incidents such as traumata, infections, ossification of ossicular structures and other pathologies may damage the ME organs. The conditions can be surgically treated by employing prosthesis. However, the suitability of the prosthesis needs to be examined in advance prior to the surgery. Few decades ago, this issue was addressed and analyzed by developing an equivalent representation either in the form of spring mass system, electrical system using R-L-C circuit or developing an approximated CAD model. But, nowadays a three-dimensional ME model can be constructed using micro X-Ray Computed Tomography (μCT) scan data. Moreover, the concern about patient specific integrity pertaining to the disease can be examined well in advance. The current research work emphasizes to develop the ME model from the stacks of μCT images which are used as input file to MIMICS Research 19.0 (Materialise Interactive Medical Image Control System) software. A stack of CT images is converted into geometrical surface model to build accurate morphology of ME. The work is further extended to understand the dynamic behaviour of Harmonic response of the stapes footplate and umbo for different sound pressure levels applied at lateral side of eardrum using finite element approach. The pathological condition Cholesteatoma of ME is investigated to obtain peak to peak displacement of stapes footplate and umbo. Apart from this condition, other pathologies, mainly, changes in the stiffness of stapedial ligament, TM thickness and ossicular chain separation and fixation are also explored. The developed model of ME for pathologies is validated by comparing the results available in the literatures and also with the results of a normal ME to calculate the percentage loss in hearing capability.