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  • Author: A. Bernasconi x
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The green wood of twelve deciduous tree species was investigated regarding its radial and tangential moduli of elasticity measured in tension (ER and ET, respectively). In addition, the wood density and the volume fraction of rays were determined. A strong positive correlation was found between structural and stiffness properties. A simple two component model was derived for the relationship between the transverse elastic anisotropy factor (i.e., ER/ET) of the green wood and the relative volume fraction of the axial and ray tissues. In the radial direction of the wood, the modulus of elasticity is influenced by the wood density and the volume fraction of rays; in tangential direction only the density seems to be important. However, the comparison between the elastic anisotropy and the volume fraction of rays indicates that the rays may have an indirect influence due to their shape.


We use methods of nonlinear dynamics to describe the effect of periodic inhibition on the patterns of action potentials generated by regular spiking rat cortical neuron in vitro. Both direct measurements and our mathematical model reveal that chaotic patterns of discharge can be evoked at certain frequencies of inhibitory stimulation. We use detailed biophysical simulation of a cortical neuron to explain the firing patterns in terms of known membrane ionic conductances.


Combinations of fructose- and fat-rich diets in experimental animals can model the human metabolic syndrome (MS). In rats, the increase in blood pressure (BP) after diet manipulation is sex related and highly dependent on testosterone secretion. However, the extent of the impact of diet on rodent hypophysial-testicular axis remains undefined. In the present study, rats drinking a 10% fructose solution or fed a high-fat (35%) diet for 10 weeks had higher plasma levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and lower plasma levels of testosterone, without significant changes in circulating follicle-stimulating hormone or the weight of most reproductive organs. Diet manipulation brought about a significant increase in body weight, systolic BP, area under the curve (AUC) of glycemia after an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test (IPGTT), and plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid levels. The concomitant administration of melatonin (25 μg/mL of drinking water) normalized the abnormally high LH levels but did not affect the inhibited testosterone secretion found in fructose- or high-fat-fed rats. Rather, melatonin per se inhibited testosterone secretion. Melatonin significantly blunted the body weight and systolic BP increase, the increase in the AUC of glycemia after an IPGTT, and the changes in circulating lipid profile and uric acid found in both MS models. The results are compatible with a primary inhibition of testicular function in diet-induced MS in rats and with the partial effectiveness of melatonin to counteract the metabolic but not the testicular sequelae of rodent MS.


Turner syndrome (TS) is the most common sex-chromosome abnormality in females. Short stature and hypogonadism are the classical clinical findings. The spontaneous final height (FH) ranges between 139 and 147 cm, representing a growth deficit of about 20 cm with respect to the unaffected population. GH therapy improves FH and should be started during childhood at a high dose of about 1 IU/kg/week (range 0.6-2 IU/kg/week). Some authors advocate combined therapy with an anabolic steroid at various doses (e.g. oxandrolone 0.05-0.1 mg/kg/day). This treatment results in a significantly increased FH, .a large proportion of treated girls reaching a FH of more than 150 cm. Gonadal function is compromised during adolescence in about 80% of girls with TS, whilst in about 20% pubertal development occurs spontaneously. Oestrogen therapy should be started at the age of 13-14 years in hypogonadic patients; early onset of treatment (before 12 years) seems to compromise FH. Other concerns in these patients are fertility and osteopenia.



As part of the immune defense during infection, an increase in enzyme activity of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) leads to a breakdown of tryptophan to kynurenine. In previous animal studies, therapeutic antagonism of IDO resulted in reduced sepsis mortality. We investigated the prognostic ability of tryptophan, serotonin, kynurenine and IDO (represented by the ratio of kynurenine/tryptophan) to predict adverse clinical outcomes in patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).


We measured tryptophan, serotonin and kynurenine on admission plasma samples from CAP patients included in a previous multicenter trial by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). We studied their association with inflammation (C-reactive protein), infection (procalcitonin) and clinical outcome.


Mortality in the 268 included patients was 45% within 6 years of follow-up. IDO and kynurenine showed a strong positive correlation with markers of infection (procalcitonin) and inflammation (C-reactive protein) as well as sepsis and CAP severity scores. Tryptophan showed similar, but negative correlations. In a multivariate regression analysis adjusted for age and comorbidities, higher IDO activity and lower tryptophan levels were strongly associated with short-term adverse outcome defined as death and/or ICU admission within 30 days with adjusted odds ratios of 9.1 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4–59.5, p=0.021] and 0.11 (95% CI 0.02–0.70, p=0.021). Multivariate analysis did not reveal significant associations for kynurenine and serotonin.


In hospitalized CAP patients, higher IDO activity and lower tryptophan levels independently predicted disease severity and short-term adverse outcome. Whether therapeutic modulation of IDO has positive effects on outcome needs further investigation.