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Concept: Fibers


Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging (DKI) is a diffusion-weighted technique which overcomes limitations of the commonly used diffusion tensor imaging approach. This technique models non-Gaussian behaviour of water diffusion by the diffusion kurtosis tensor (KT), which can be used to provide indices of tissue heterogeneity and a better characterisation of the spatial architecture of tissue microstructure. In this study, the geometry of the KT is elucidated using synthetic data generated from multi-compartmental models, where diffusion heterogeneity between intra and extra-cellular media are taken into account, as well as the sensitivity of the results to each model parameter and to synthetic noise. Furthermore, based on the assumption that maxima of the KT are distributed perpendicularly to the direction of well aligned fibres, a novel algorithm for estimating fibre direction directly from the KT is proposed and compared to the fibre directions extracted from DKI based orientation distribution function (ODF) estimates previously proposed in the literature. Synthetic data results showed that, for fibres crossing at high intersection angles, direction estimates extracted directly from the KT have smaller errors than the DKI based ODF estimation approaches (DKI-ODF). Nevertheless, the proposed method showed smaller angular resolution and lower stability to changes of the simulation parameters. On real data, tractography performed on these KT fibre estimates suggests a higher sensitivity than the DKI based ODF in resolving lateral corpus callosum fibres reaching the pre-central cortex when diffusion acquisition is performed with five b-values. Using faster acquisition schemes, KT based tractography did not show improved performance over the DKI-ODF procedures. Nevertheless, it is shown that direct KT fibres estimates are more adequate for computing a generalized version of radial kurtosis maps.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Corpus callosum, Fiber, Parameter, Imaging, Tensors, Synthetic fiber, Fibers


Hagfish slime threads, which make up the fibrous component of the defensive slime of hagfishes, consist primarily of proteins from the intermediate filament family of proteins and possess impressive mechanical properties that make them attractive biomimetic models. To investigate whether solubilized intermediate filament proteins can be used to make high-performance, environmentally sustainable materials, we cast thin films on the surface of electrolyte buffers using solubilized hagfish slime thread proteins. The films were drawn into fibers, and the tensile properties were measured. Fiber mechanics depended on casting conditions and postspinning processing. Postsecondary drawing resulted in fibers with improved material properties similar to those of regenerated silk fibers. Structural analyses of the fibers revealed increased molecular alignment resulting from the second draw, but no increase in crystallinity. Our findings show promise for intermediate filament proteins as an alternative source for the design and production of high performance protein-based fibers.

Concepts: Cytoskeleton, Tensile strength, Fiber, Materials, Dietary fiber, Spider silk, Hagfish, Fibers


The distinction between amphibole asbestos fibers and non-asbestos amphibole particles has important implications for assessing potential cancer risks associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos or amphibole-containing products. Exposure to amphibole asbestos fibers can pose a cancer risk due to its ability to reside for long periods of time in the deep lung (i.e., biopersistence). In contrast, non-asbestos amphibole particles are usually cleared rapidly from the lung and do not pose similar respiratory risks even at high doses. Most regulatory and public health agencies, as well as scientific bodies, agree that non-asbestos amphiboles possess reduced biological (e.g., carcinogenic) activity. Although non-asbestos amphibole minerals have been excluded historically from Federal regulations, non-asbestos structures may be counted as asbestos fibers on the basis of dimensional criteria specified in analytical protocols. Given the potential to mischaracterize a non-asbestos structure as a “true” asbestos fiber, our objective was to assess whether exposure to non-asbestos amphiboles that may meet the dimensional criteria for counting as a fiber pose a cancer risk similar to amphibole asbestos. We reviewed analytical methods as well as the mineralogical, epidemiological, and toxicological literature for non-asbestos amphiboles. No evidence of demonstrable cancer effects from exposure to non-asbestos amphiboles that may be counted as fibers, under certain assessment protocols, was found. Data gaps (industrial hygiene data for amphibole-exposed cohorts), inconsistencies (analytical laboratory methods/protocols used to count fibers), and sources of potential bias from misclassification of exposure were identified.

Concepts: Cancer, Mineral, Asbestos, Amphibole, Tremolite, Fibers


The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of mild alkaline pre-extraction on the hemicelluloses removal of rice straw. In addition, the performance of cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) addition on some physico-mechanical properties obtained from extracted and un-extracted (control) samples were investigated. An optimum compromise was found as operating conditions (10% soda, 50°C, and 90min) that provided moderate hemicelluloses removal (48.1%). The residual extracted rice straw particles were subjected to soda-anthraquinone pulping at 160°C for 30-60min with 6 to 18% active alkali charge. Compared with the control samples, the screened yield and Kappa number for extracted pulps decreased slightly. Extracted samples showed better air resistance compared with the un-extracted (control) pulps. However, pre-extraction was found to negatively impact on some mechanical properties such as decrease in burst and tensile indices while addition of CNFs and refining of fibers could improve the strength properties considerably. In general, the addition of CNFs in any concentrations considerably enhanced tensile and burst indices of the sheets in extracted and un-extracted conditions, compared with the unfilled ones. The improvement in mechanical properties was considered one of the key benefits brought by CNFs reinforcement. On the other hand, the stretch properties of the beaten pulps are higher than those of control samples. SEM observations showed that CNFs were deposited on the voids between the rice straw fibers.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Tensile strength, Cellulose, Alkali, Fibers, Straw, Pulping


In vitro reconstruction of an alveolar barrier for modeling normal lung functions and pathological events serve as reproducible, high-throughput pharmaceutical platforms for drug discovery, diagnosis, and regenerative medicine. Despite much effort, the reconstruction of organ-level alveolar barrier functions has failed due to the lack of structural similarity to the natural basement membrane, functionalization with specific ligands for alveolar cell function, the use of primary cells and biodegradability. Here we report a bipolar cultured alveolar-capillary barrier model of human primary cells supported by a basement membrane mimics of fully-synthetic bifunctional nanofibers. One-step electrospinning process using a bioresorbable polyester and multi-functional star-shaped polyethylene glycols (sPEG) enables the fabrication of an ultrathin nanofiber mesh with interconnected pores. The nanofiber mesh possessed mechanical stability against cyclic expansion as seen in the lung in vivo. The sPEGs as an additive provide bio-functionality to fibers through the conjugation of peptide to the nanofibers and hydrophilization to prevent unspecific protein adsorption. Biofunctionalized nanofiber meshes facilitated bipolar cultivation of endothelial and epithelial cells with fundamental alveolar functionality and showed higher permeability for molecules compared to microporous films. This nanofiber mesh for a bipolar cultured barrier have the potential to promote growth of an organ-level barrier model for modeling pathological conditions and evaluating drug efficacy, environmental pollutants, and nanotoxicology.

Concepts: Lung, Function, Epithelium, Basement membrane, In vivo, Endothelium, In vitro, Fibers


Nowadays electrospinning has become one of the most versatile, easy, and cost-effective techniques to engineer advanced materials used for many applications especially in the biomedical and environmental areas. Like the numerous patents around the world, the increasing number of papers witnesses the huge potential of this simple process, and many companies have been emerged during the last years to exploit its innumerable applications. This article presents a critically selected overview of polymers that can be used to produce nanofibers, along with the biomedical applications of the resulting electrospun scaffolds. We have focused on about seven natural and synthetic polymers, but many more can be found in the literature, either as their pristine state or as composites with ceramics, metals, and other polymers. The description of some strategies for nanofiber production, and the characterization used to evaluate their optimization, have been discussed. Finally, several polymers have been recognized as highlights for future work.

Concepts: Present, Materials science, Computer program, Fibers


A variety of artificial spinning methods have been applied to produce regenerated silk fibers; however, how to spin regenerated silk fibers that retain the advantages of natural silks in terms of structural hierarchy and mechanical properties remains challenging. Here, we show a bioinspired approach to spin regenerated silk fibers. First, we develop a nematic silk microfibril solution, highly viscous and stable, by partially dissolving silk fibers into microfibrils. This solution maintains the hierarchical structures in natural silks and serves as spinning dope. It is then spun into regenerated silk fibers by direct extrusion in the air, offering a useful route to generate polymorphic and hierarchical regenerated silk fibers with physical properties beyond natural fiber construction. The materials maintain the structural hierarchy and mechanical properties of natural silks, including a modulus of 11 ± 4 GPa, even higher than natural spider silk. It can further be functionalized with a conductive silk/carbon nanotube coating, responsive to changes in humidity and temperature.

Concepts: Structure, Hierarchy, Fiber, Silk, Spider silk, Fibers, Wool, Animal fiber


Sources, pathways and reservoirs of microplastics, plastic particles smaller than 5mm, remain poorly documented in an urban context. While some studies pointed out wastewater treatment plants as a potential pathway of microplastics, none have focused on the atmospheric compartment. In this work, the atmospheric fallout of microplastics was investigated in two different urban and sub-urban sites. Microplastics were collected continuously with a stainless steel funnel. Samples were then filtered and observed with a stereomicroscope. Fibers accounted for almost all the microplastics collected. An atmospheric fallout between 2 and 355particles/m(2)/day was highlighted. Registered fluxes were systematically higher at the urban than at the sub-urban site. Chemical characterization allowed to estimate at 29% the proportion of these fibers being all synthetic (made with petrochemicals), or a mixture of natural and synthetic material. Extrapolation using weight and volume estimates of the collected fibers, allowed a rough estimation showing that between 3 and 10 tons of fibers are deposited by atmospheric fallout at the scale of the Parisian agglomeration every year (2500km(2)). These results could serve the scientific community working on the different sources of microplastic in both continental and marine environments.

Concepts: Environment, Natural environment, Sewage treatment, Plastic, Fiber, Synthetic fiber, Aramid, Fibers


Background: Cosmetic talcum powder products have been used for decades. The inhalation of talc may cause lung fibrosis in the form of granulomatose nodules called talcosis. Exposure to talc has also been suggested as a causative factor in the development of ovarian carcinomas, gynecological tumors, and mesothelioma. Purpose: To investigate one historic brand of cosmetic talcum powder associated with mesothelioma in women. Methods: Transmission electron microscope (TEM) formvar-coated grids were prepared with concentrations of one brand of talcum powder directly, on filters, from air collections on filters in glovebox and simulated bathroom exposures and human fiber burden analyses. The grids were analyzed on an analytic TEM using energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and selected-area electron diffraction (SAED) to determine asbestos fiber number and type. Results: This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released inhalable asbestos fibers. Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma. Digestions of the tissues were found to contain anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos. Discussion: Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma as well as other women with the same scenario.

Concepts: Electron, Cancer, Lung cancer, Ovarian cancer, Transmission electron microscopy, Asbestos, Fibers, Talc


Self-sorted supramolecular nanofibres-a multicomponent system that consists of several types of fibre, each composed of distinct building units-play a crucial role in complex, well-organized systems with sophisticated functions, such as living cells. Designing and controlling self-sorting events in synthetic materials and understanding their structures and dynamics in detail are important elements in developing functional artificial systems. Here, we describe the in situ real-time imaging of self-sorted supramolecular nanofibre hydrogels consisting of a peptide gelator and an amphiphilic phosphate. The use of appropriate fluorescent probes enabled the visualization of self-sorted fibres entangled in two and three dimensions through confocal laser scanning microscopy and super-resolution imaging, with 80 nm resolution. In situ time-lapse imaging showed that the two types of fibre have different formation rates and that their respective physicochemical properties remain intact in the gel. Moreover, we directly visualized stochastic non-synchronous fibre formation and observed a cooperative mechanism.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Physical chemistry, Fiber, Synthetic fiber, Aramid, Artificial turf, Fibers