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(2021) Lim, MaeThesisConcern about falling is a common and serious health concern for older people. However, older people's participation in proven interventions for reducing concern about falling remains low. Health literacy could be influential to older people’s long-term participation in health programs for concern about falling. This thesis aimed to understand the relationship between health literacy and concern about falling in community-living older people. Six studies were conducted: (i) proposed a multicomponent theoretical model on health literacy and concern about falling; (ii) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the relationship between health literacy and physical activity; (iii) developed and validated the Falls Health Literacy Scale (FHLS), a health literacy instrument specific to falls; (iv) developed cut-points for the 30-item and 10-item Iconographical Falls Efficacy Scales (IconFES) and evaluated their construct and predictive validity to falls and reduced physical activity; (v) assessed the effectiveness of a six-week online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program for reducing concern about falling; (vi) explored how health literacy affects adherence to a home-based exercise program. The main findings were: (i) health literacy is closely related to many determinants of concern about falling and greater efforts are needed to clarify the impact of health literacy on intervention adherence and decision-making of older people with concern about falling; (ii) older people with inadequate health literacy are less likely to engage in physical activity on ≥5 days per week than those with adequate health literacy; (iii) the FHLS is sensitive to levels of fall-related health literacy, with good validity in an older population; (iv) the developed IconFES cut-points were sensitive to variables associated with concern about falling and predicted fall incidence and physical activity restriction after one year; (v) online CBT is a feasible treatment method for older people, and a targeted program with a well-integrated psychoeducation module on concern about falling seems warranted to boost the therapeutic effects; (vi) education, history of falls, anxiety and neuroticism moderate the relationship between health literacy and adherence of older people to a home-based exercise program. The thesis findings elucidate key aspects of the relationship between health literacy and concern about falling in older people.
(2022) Das, AbhijitThesisThe homeostatic regulation of amino acid concentrations is crucial for optimal brain function and development. Different amino acid transporters at cell membranes work together to facilitate the movement of amino acids into and out of the brain. Despite countless in vitro and in vivo research on these amino acids' activities, many fundamental concerns about their metabolic function in different brain areas and pathophysiological conditions remain unanswered. In the framework of this thesis, the effects of exogenous administration of several non-essential amino acids and the participation of their specific transporters in brain metabolism were investigated in Guinea pig cortical brain slices and mouse brain tissues using a targeted neuropharmacological and metabolomic strategy. Alterations in brain metabolism were analyzed using 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate changes in metabolite pools and 13C-enriched substrates. All the amino acid transporters mentioned in this study were addressed by the existing solute carrier (SLC) gene nomenclature system for amino acid transporters. The effect of exogenous L-aspartate, L-ornithine, and their salt, L-aspartate-L-ornithine (LOLA), on brain metabolism was investigated with or without an intact blood-brain barrier (BBB). The results indicated that neither L-aspartate, L-ornithine, nor LOLA, affected brain metabolism with an intact BBB. In cortical tissue slices L-aspartate increased brain metabolism concentration-dependently, L-ornithine significantly slowed it at higher concentrations (100 μmol/L), and the effects of LOLA was largely dependent on the balance of its two constituent amino acids. D-aspartate, another isoform of aspartate, produced a range of metabolic impacts, particularly on glutamatergic and GABAergic systems, with varying concentrations. In principal component analysis, the effects of D-aspartate were clearly distinguished from those of L-aspartate, indicating a metabolic pattern distinct from that of excitatory mechanisms. L-Proline administration significantly inhibited brain metabolism in Guinea pig cortical tissue slices, indicating a GABA-like effect; however, it was not a significant metabolic substrate. While it was actively taken up by cells in a concentration-dependent manner but was not completely metabolized. The metabolic pattern revealed that L-proline's effects clustered with 3-aminopropyl(methyl)phosphinic acid (SKF 97541), GABA, 1,5,6-tetrahydropyridin-4-yl)methylphosphinic acid (TPMPA) and (5,6-dihydro-5-methyl-6-oxo-4H-imidazo[1,5-a]thieno[2,3-f][1,4]diazepine-3-carboxylic acid) 1,1-dimethylethyl ester (RO194603) at lower concentrations (10 μmol/L) and with vigabatrin and RO194603 at higher concentrations (100 μmol/L); indicating that proline may act as a GABAB receptor agonist or GABAArho antagonist. Deletion of SLC6A17/NTT4 (neurotransmitter transporter 4) gene significantly impaired glutamate-glutamine cycle, reduced incorporation of 13C into Krebs cycle intermediates, and increased incorporation into lactate in the brain of mice lacking the gene. NTT4 knockout also altered several important metabolites in glutamatergic neurones, implying that it is a crucial transporter for maintaining brain amino acid homeostasis. Investigation of glutamine transport in cerebellum demonstrated that system A dominates glutamine transport in the cerebellum, with contributions from system N, which is inhibited by histidine and 2-(Methylamino)-2-methylpropionic acid (MeAIB) exerting the most metabolic influence. Inhibition of systems A and L by L-γ-Glutamyl-p-nitroanilide (GPNA) and 2-amino-4-bis(aryloxybenzyl)aminobutanoic acid (AABA) did not influence glutamine transport due to their low affinity for the transporters. Inhibition of systems L and B0 by 2-Aminobicyclo[2.2.1]heptane-2-carboxylic acid (BCH) showed little effect on fluxes from [1-13C]D-glucose but increased the flux of [1,2-13C]acetate into Glu C4,5 and Gln C4,5. Effects of cycloleucine were comparable to BCH but less powerful. This study provided new insight into the role of several non-essential amino acids in brain metabolism and also showed how brain metabolism is regulated in different brain regions.
(2022) Cao, JunThesisThis thesis focuses on the development and applications of magnetic resonance electrical properties tomography (MREPT), which is an emerging imaging modality to noninvasively obtain the electrical properties of tissues, such as conductivity and permittivity. Chapter 2 describes the general information about human research ethics, MRI scanner, MR sequence and the method of phase-based MREPT implemented in this thesis. Chapter 3 examines the repeatability of phase-based MREPT in the brain conductivity measurement using balanced fast field echo (bFFE) and turbo spin echo (TSE) sequences, and investigate the effects of compressed SENSE, whole-head B_1 shimming and video watching during scan on the measurement precision. Chapter 4 investigates the conductivity signal in response to short-duration visual stimulus, compares the signal and functional activation pathway with that of BOLD, and tests the consistency of functional conductivity imaging (funCI) with visual stimulation across participants. Chapter 5 extends the use of functional conductivity imaging to somatosensory stimulation and trigeminal nerve stimulation to evaluate the consistency of functional conductivity activation across different types of stimuli. In addition, visual adaptation experiment is performed to test if the repetition suppression effect can be observed using funCI. Chapter 6 explores if resting state conductivity networks can be reliably constructed using resting state funCI, evaluates the consistency of persistent homology architectures, and compares the links between nodes in the whole brain. Chapter 7 investigates the feasibility of prostate conductivity imaging using MREPT, and distinctive features in the conductivity distribution between healthy participants and participants with suspected abnormalities.
(2023) Ireland, JakeThesisPluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC–CM) have great importance for predicting safety parameters for pharmaceutical compounds and models of healthy versus disease states of the human heart. In recent years, there has been an insistence that all new pharmaceutical products are tested on in vitro models for potential proarrhythmic effects and the increased demand for improved biomimetic hPSC-CM in pharmaceutical safety assays such as the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmic Assay (CiPA). In addition, hPSC-CM are being utilised in cell therapies to treat and reverse the effects of ischaemic heart disease, offering potential cures for cardiovascular diseases instead of treatments for delaying progressive heart failure. In the first part of this thesis, I will examine how purified extracellular matrix proteins (ECMPs) can influence pluripotent stem cell (PSC) behaviour and how we may use this to precondition cardiac progenitor lineage specifications. I use array-based techniques to investigate how protein combinations affect proliferation, pluripotency, germ layer, and cardiac progenitors. This method allows us to visualise how individual proteins can affect cells' behaviour in a larger array whilst highlighting how specific combinations can precondition pluripotent cells towards a cardiomyocyte lineage. This combinatorial approach led to the identification of several unique matrices that promote differentiation, which will aid efforts at producing therapeutically useful cell types with greater efficiency. In the second part of this thesis, I demonstrate a novel bioreactor that attenuates a magnetic field to dynamically modulate the stiffness of magnetoactive hydrogel to look at how biomimetic dynamic stiffening of a substrate can influence cardiomyocyte lineage specification. We investigate how biomimetic in vivo mechanics may influence cell fate by following the expression profiles of cells in different dynamic environments. Non-invasive electromagnetic signals affect substrate stiffness when combined with magnetic particles and magnetic fibres and how this can help direct cell orientation and accompanying lineage specification Finally, I investigate how variability in cell phenotypes and expression patterns are influenced by biomimetic cues and how these variabilities could be utilised in future safety assessment protocols and cell therapy treatments for cardiovascular disease.
Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Phenylglyoxamide- and Benzothiazole-Based Small Molecular Peptidomimetics as Antibacterial Agents(2022) Yu, Tsz TinThesisThe rapid emergence and development of antibacterial resistance is a major global threat to public health. There is an urgent need for the development of antibacterial agents with novel therapeutic strategy to tackle the increasing incidence of antibacterial resistance. In recent years, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and their synthetic mimics have been under the spotlight of the development of a novel class of antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistance. This research project focused on the utilisation of phenylglyoxamide and benzothiazole scaffolds in the development of antimicrobial peptidomimetics. The synthesis of phenylglyoxamide-based peptidomimetics was achieved via the ring-opening reactions of N-sulfonylisatins with primary amines followed by salt formation. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of the peptidomimetics against different bacterial strains were determined to assess their antibacterial activity. Structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies revealed the inverse relationship between the alkylsulfonyl chain length and the bulkiness of the phenyl ring system for high antibacterial activity. The most active peptidomimetics exhibited high antibacterial activity with the lowest MIC to be 4, 16 and 63 μM against S. aureus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa, respectively. These peptidomimetics also showed significant biofilm disruption (up to 50%) and inhibition (up to 70%) against S. aureus at 2–4× MIC. In addition, terphenylglyoxamide-based peptidomimetics synthesised by the ring-opening reaction of N-acylisatins with amines and amino acid esters were evaluated for their quorum sensing inhibition (QSI) activity against P. aeruginosa MH602. The most potent peptidomimetic possessed high QSI activity of 82%, 65% and 53% at 250, 125 and 62.5 μM, respectively, with no bacterial growth inhibition. On the other hand, benzothiazole-based peptidomimetics were synthesised via the Jacobson method of cyclisation of phenylthioamides, followed by the installation of cationic groups. 2-Naphthyl and guanidinium hydrochloride as the hydrophobic and cationic groups, respectively, were important for high antibacterial activity of the peptidomimetics against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The most potent peptidomimetics against S. aureus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa possessed MIC values of 2, 16 and 32 μM, respectively. These active peptidomimetics inhibited 39% of S. aureus biofilm formation and disrupted 42% of preformed S. aureus biofilms at sub-MIC.
(2022) Sanchez Miranda, MartaThesisThe aim of this thesis is the development of microscopy-compatible electronic devices to advance the field of biosensing in two main directions. First, the development of a platform that allows electrical and optical studies of membrane proteins at the single molecule level. We have fabricated InAs nanowire field-effect transistors and PEDOT:PSS organic electrochemical-transistors on 170 μm thick glass slides for their integration with fluorescence microscopes. Each electronic device was fabricated at the bottom of a circular well sealed with a lipid bilayer. A wide range of membrane proteins can be inserted into this lipid bilayer, most of which work as pores or active pumps for the transport of ions across the membrane. This platform allows simultaneous electrical and optical studies of such proteins, achieving single-molecule resolution when a single protein is inserted in the bilayer. We present the fabrication procedures for these devices and the creation of a lipid membrane over them, as well as electrical characterization and ion sensitivity measurements. The development of novel hardware to achieve electrical contact with the devices while performing fluorescence microscopy is also presented. We demonstrate the viability of our platform via the correlation of electrical and optical signals in response to ion concentration and lipid bilayer rupture. We also present a computational model that provides insight into this system and propose future optimization steps towards the incorporation of membrane proteins into the system. Second, the creation of a sensor that allows electrical detection of a moving target at the single molecule level. In this thesis, we present a theoretical model to determine the feasibility of detecting an actin filament or microtubule passing in close proximity to a carbon nanotube field-effect transistor. This platform would allow the detection of moving biomolecules without the need to physically attach the molecules to the electronic devices. Our results showed that electrical detection is possible given the right experimental conditions. This would enable tracking of large numbers of molecules at once, an important advance for applications where the detection of biological agents is relevant, such as biocomputation.
(2022) Gadde, SatyanarayanaThesisHigh-risk neuroblastoma is one of the most aggressive and treatment-refractory childhood malignancies. MYCN (v-myc avian myelocytomatosis viral related oncogene, neuroblastoma derived) is a major oncogenic driver for neuroblastoma (NB) tumorigenesis. Developing direct inhibitors of MYCN has been challenging due to several limitations. Hence, targeting MYCN-binding proteins which regulate the stability of MYCN protein is a promising alternative approach. This study is aimed at developing novel inhibitors of ubiquitin specific protease 5 (USP5), a deubiquitinating enzyme, which is known to prevent MYCN protein degradation by deubiquitination. The first results chapter describes the synthesis of novel pyrido[1,2-a]benzimidazole compounds and their cytotoxicity against MYCN amplified NB cells with high expression of USP5 protein (SK-N-BE(2)-C and Kelly cells). However, none of the tested compounds displayed better cytotoxicity than the parental compound, SE486-11. The second results chapter describes a one-pot synthesis of novel γ-carbolinone, γ-carboline and spiro[pyrrolidinone-3,3′]indoles. One of the γ-carboline compounds (42d) displayed promising cytotoxicity against NB cells (SK-N-BE(2)-C (IC50 = 1.21 μM) and Kelly (IC50 = 3.09 μM)) but showed little therapeutic selectivity when compared to normal human fibroblasts, MRC-5 cells (IC50 = 3.75μM). The synthesis and cytotoxicity of novel pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazoles is described in the third results chapter. The active compound, 65a displayed promising cytotoxicity against SK-N-BE(2)-C (IC50 = 0.78 μM) and Kelly (IC50 = 2.00 μM) cells with a reasonable therapeutic window compared to MRC-5 cells (IC50 = 15.0 μM). 65a bound to USP5 protein by microscale thermophoresis assay (Kd = 0.47 µM). USP5 and MYCN protein levels were decreased in NB cells by treatment with 65a. Moreover, the cytotoxicity of 65a was dependant on the expression of USP5 and MYCN proteins. 65a showed synergy in combination with HDAC inhibitors, SAHA and panobinostat. In the fourth results chapter, the synthesis of more potent pyrimido[1,2-a]benzimidazoles with di- and tri- substitutions on the pendant phenyl ring (86b (SK-N-BE(2)-C IC50 = 0.31 μM; Kelly IC50 = 0.65 μM) and 91 (SK-N-BE(2)-C IC50 = 0.03 μM; Kelly IC50 = 0.07 μM)) are described. Importantly, 86b displayed significant in vivo efficacy in TH-MYCN homozygous NB mice when treated with 60 mg/kg for three weeks. The last results chapter describes the synthesis and cytotoxicity of novel benzo[4,5]imidazo[2,1-b]thiazole and pyrido[2,3-b]indole compounds. Collectively, this thesis identifies promising novel scaffolds with great potential for further development.
(2022) Bello, IdrisThesisThe inflammatory artery diseases atherosclerosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) are major causes of morbidity and mortality and there is significant attention towards identifying and targeting prominent inflammatory mediators underpinning these cardiovascular diseases. In the first chapter, the role of the pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidant enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO) in inflammatory artery disease was studied. A clinical study showed that while circulating plasma MPO levels were not different in AAA patients versus healthy controls, immunohistochemistry showed that the MPO protein was prevalent in human AAA tissue. In the angiotensin II (AngII)-infusion model of AAA and atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein-E gene-deficient (ApoE–/–) mice, administration of 2-thioxanthines (2-TX), a clinically-trialled MPO inhibitor, significantly inhibited AAA but not atherosclerosis. Paradoxically, MPO gene-deficiency did not affect AngII-induced AAA but attenuated atherosclerosis. Notably, 2-TX significantly inhibited AAA in ApoE–/–MPO–/– mice, indicating 2-TX protects against aortic disease in the absence of MPO. The role of MPO in the diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis in ApoE–/– mice was also examined. While MPO gene-deficiency did not impact on the degree of diabetes it significantly reduced diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis at the brachiocephalic artery and aortic sinus, but not aortic arch, indicating that MPO exhibits site-specific effect on atherosclerosis. A second chapter focused on semicarbizide-sensitive amine oxidase/vascular adhesion protein-1 (SSAO/VAP-1), a pro-inflammatory enzyme that facilitates the vascular recruitment of activated leukocytes. Treatment of AngII-infused ApoE–/– mice with a clinically-viable SSAO/VAP-1 inhibitor significantly protected against AAA and atherosclerosis, independent of alterations to plasma lipid levels. A third chapter tested the therapeutic efficacy of apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), the major cardioprotective protein in high-density lipoproteins, and a class of immunomodulatory nanoparticles (INPs), which selectively target and disable a pro-inflammatory monocyte subset. Although ApoA-I treatment did not impact on the development of arterial disease in AngII-infused, aged ApoE–/– mice, INPs provided significant protection against AAA and atherosclerosis in these mice. This novel research provides new insights on the roles of MPO and SSAO in AAA and atherosclerosis and identified clinically-viable inhibitors of MPO and SSAO and a class of biodegradable immunomodulatory nanoparticles as potential new therapeutics for treating inflammatory artery disease.