A Deep Look Into Erionite Fibres: an Electron Microscopy Investigation of their Self-Assembly.
ABSTRACT: The exposure of humans to erionite fibres of appropriate morphology and dimension has been unambiguously linked to the occurrence of Malignant Mesothelioma. For this reason, a detailed morpho-structural investigation through Electron Microscopy techniques has been performed on erionite samples collected at two different localities, Durkee (ED) and Rome (ER), Oregon, USA. The sample from Rome has been also investigated after a prolonged leaching with Gamble's solution (ER4G) in order to evaluate the possible occurrence of morpho-structural modifications induced by this Simulated-Lung-Fluid (SLF). Here we report how the micrometric erionite fibres evolve in irregular ribbon- or rod-like bundles as a function of different nano-structural features. The reasons for the observed morphological variability have been explained by considering the structural defects located at ED surface fibrils (bi-dimensional ribbons) and the presence of nontronite, an iron-bearing clay mineral embedding the ER fibrils (mono-dimensional rods). ER4G shows a decrease in width of the rod-like fibres due to their partial digestion by SLF leaching, which synchronously dissolves nontronite. The reported results represent a valuable background toward the full comprehension of the morphological mechanisms responsible for potentially damage of lung tissue through the potential relocation of fibers to extrapulmonary sites, increasing the carcinogenic risk to humans.
Project description:Fibrous erionite is a mineral fibre of great concern but to date mechanisms by which it induces cyto- and geno-toxic damage, and especially the role of iron associated to this zeolite species, remain poorly understood. One of the reasons is that we still don't know exactly where iron is in natural erionite. This work is focused on fibrous erionite-Na from Jersey (Nevada, USA) and attempts to draw a general model of occurrence of iron in erionite and relationship with toxicity mechanisms. It was found that iron is present as 6-fold coordinated Fe(3+) not part of the zeolite structure. The heterogeneous nature of the sample was revealed as receptacle of different iron-bearing impurities (amorphous iron-rich nanoparticles, micro-particles of iron oxides/hydroxides, and flakes of nontronite). If iron is not part of the structure, its role should be considered irrelevant for erionite toxicity, and other factors like biopersistence should be invoked. An alternative perspective to the proposed model is that iron rich nano-particles and nontronite dissolve in the intracellular acidic environment, leaving a residue of iron atoms at specific surface sites anchored to the windows of the zeolite channels. These sites may be active later as low nuclearity groups.
Project description:Fibrous erionite-Na from Rome (Oregon, USA) was K-exchanged and characterized from the structural point of view. In addition, the modifications experienced after contact with a Fe(II) source were investigated for evaluating if the large potassium ions, blocking off nearly all the erionite cavity openings, might prevent the Fe(II) binding process, which is currently assumed to be one of the reasons of the toxicity of erionite. The K-exchanged sample had a 95% reduction of the BET surface area indicating that it behaves as a mesoporous material. Exchanged K is segregated at K2 and at OW sites commonly occupied by H2O. The latter K cations provide a relevant contribution to the reduction of the surface area. Surprisingly, despite the collapse of its surface area the sample preserves the tendency to bind Fe(II). Therefore, yet in the case of a peculiar and potentially hostile structural environment the Fe(II) ion-exchange process has essentially the same kinetics observed in a typical erionite sample. This is a clear evidence of the very limited effect of the chemical composition of erionite on the Fe(II) binding process and reasonably it does not play a significant role in its toxicity.
Project description:The study of the mechanisms by which mineral fibres promote adverse effects in both animals and humans is a hot topic of multidisciplinary research with many aspects that still need to be elucidated. Besides length and diameter, a key parameter that determines the toxicity/pathogenicity of a fibre is biopersistence, one component of which is biodurability. In this paper, biodurability of mineral fibres of social and economic importance (chrysotile, amphibole asbestos and fibrous erionite) has been determined for the first time in a systematic comparative way from in vitro acellular dissolution experiments. Dissolution was possible using the Gamble solution as simulated lung fluid (pH?=?4 and at body temperature) so to reproduce the macrophage phagolysosome environment. The investigated mineral fibres display very different dissolution rates. For a 0.25??m thick fibre, the calculated dissolution time of chrysotile is in the range 94-177 days, very short if compared to that of amphibole fibres (49-245 years), and fibrous erionite (181 years). Diffraction and SEM data on the dissolution products evidence that chrysotile rapidly undergoes amorphization with the formation of a nanophasic silica-rich fibrous metastable pseudomorph as first dissolution step whereas amphibole asbestos and fibrous erionite show minor signs of dissolution even after 9-12 months.
Project description:Erionite is a fibrous zeolite significantly more tumorigenic than crocidolite asbestos upon inhalation. In recent years, several papers have been published aimed at characterizing from the crystal-chemical point of view erionite fibres. As their toxicity has been ascribed to Fe acquired within the human body, studies aimed at characterizing the iron topochemistry have also been published, suggesting a possible important role played by the ionic exchange properties and cations mobility of this zeolite on developing carcinogenicity. Here we report the analysis results of the thermal behaviour of erionite-Na, which has been found to deviate significantly from that of erionite-K. This result is in contrast with the current scientific view that differences in weighted ionic potential, Si/Al ratio and size of exchangeable cations result in significantly different thermal behaviours, all those parameters being nearly identical or very similar in both species. The different mobility of the extraframework cations observed in erionite samples with dissimilar chemistry is of particular interest within the frame of the hypothesis that their biological activity could depend, apart from surface interactions, also on bulk effects.
Project description:Despite the crucial role of extracellular matrix (ECM) in directing cell fate in healthy and diseased tissues--particularly in development, wound healing, tissue regeneration and cancer--the mechanisms that direct the assembly and regulate hierarchical architectures of ECM are poorly understood. Collagen I matrix assembly in vivo requires active fibronectin (Fn) fibrillogenesis by cells. Here we exploit Fn-FRET probes as mechanical strain sensors and demonstrate that collagen I fibres preferentially co-localize with more-relaxed Fn fibrils in the ECM of fibroblasts in cell culture. Fibre stretch-assay studies reveal that collagen I's Fn-binding domain is responsible for the mechano-regulated interaction. Furthermore, we show that Fn-collagen interactions are reciprocal: relaxed Fn fibrils act as multivalent templates for collagen assembly, but once assembled, collagen fibres shield Fn fibres from being stretched by cellular traction forces. Thus, in addition to the well-recognized, force-regulated, cell-matrix interactions, forces also tune the interactions between different structural ECM components.
Project description:Sensory over-responsivity (SOR) commonly involves auditory and/or tactile domains, and can affect children with or without additional neurodevelopmental challenges. In this study, we examined white matter microstructural and connectome correlates of auditory over-responsivity (AOR), analyzing prospectively collected data from 39 boys, aged 8-12 years. In addition to conventional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) maps - including fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD); we used DTI and high-resolution T1 scans to develop connectome Edge Density (ED) maps. The tract-based spatial statistics was used for voxel-wise comparison of diffusion and ED maps. Then, stepwise penalized logistic regression was applied to identify independent variable (s) predicting AOR, as potential imaging biomarker (s) for AOR. Finally, we compared different combinations of machine learning algorithms (i.e., naïve Bayes, random forest, and support vector machine (SVM) and tract-based DTI/connectome metrics for classification of children with AOR. In direct sensory phenotype assessment, 15 (out of 39) boys exhibited AOR (with or without neurodevelopmental concerns). Voxel-wise analysis demonstrates extensive impairment of white matter microstructural integrity in children with AOR on DTI maps - evidenced by lower FA and higher MD and RD; moreover, there was lower connectome ED in anterior-superior corona radiata, genu and body of corpus callosum. In stepwise logistic regression, the average FA of left superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) was the single independent variable distinguishing children with AOR (<i>p</i> = 0.007). Subsequently, the left SLF average FA yielded an area under the curve of 0.756 in receiver operating characteristic analysis for prediction of AOR (<i>p</i> = 0.008) as a region-of-interest (ROI)-based imaging biomarker. In comparative study of different combinations of machine-learning models and DTI/ED metrics, random forest algorithms using ED had higher accuracy for AOR classification. Our results demonstrate extensive white matter microstructural impairment in children with AOR, with specifically lower connectomic ED in anterior-superior tracts and associated commissural pathways. Also, average FA of left SLF can be applied as ROI-based imaging biomarker for prediction of SOR. Finally, machine-learning models can provide accurate and objective image-based classifiers for identification of children with AOR based on white matter tracts connectome ED.
Project description:Fibronectin fibrils within the extracellular matrix play central roles in physiological and pathological processes, yet many structural details about their hierarchical and molecular assembly remain unknown. Here we combine site-specific protein labelling with single-molecule localization by stepwise photobleaching or direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM), and determine the relative positions of various labelled sites within native matrix fibrils. Single end-labelled fibronectin molecules in fibrils display an average end-to-end distance of ∼133 nm. Sampling of site-specific antibody epitopes along the thinnest fibrils (protofibrils) shows periodic punctate label patterns with ∼95 nm repeats and alternating N- and C-terminal regions. These measurements suggest an antiparallel 30-40 nm overlap between N-termini, suggesting that the first five type I modules bind type III modules of the adjacent molecule. Thicker fibres show random bundling of protofibrils without a well-defined line-up. This super-resolution microscopy approach can be applied to other fibrillar protein assemblies of unknown structure.
Project description:Exposure to erionite, an asbestos-like mineral, causes unprecedented rates of malignant mesothelioma (MM) mortality in some Turkish villages. Erionite deposits are present in at least 12 US states. We investigated whether increased urban development has led to erionite exposure in the United States and after preliminary exploration, focused our studies on Dunn County, North Dakota (ND). In Dunn County, ND, we discovered that over the past three decades, more than 300 miles of roads were surfaced with erionite-containing gravel. To determine potential health implications, we compared erionite from the Turkish villages to that from ND. Our study evaluated airborne point exposure concentrations, examined the physical and chemical properties of erionite, and examined the hallmarks of mesothelial cell transformation in vitro and in vivo. Airborne erionite concentrations measured in ND along roadsides, indoors, and inside vehicles, including school buses, equaled or exceeded concentrations in Boyali, where 6.25% of all deaths are caused by MM. With the exception of outdoor samples along roadsides, ND concentrations were lower than those measured in Turkish villages with MM mortality ranging from 20 to 50%. The physical and chemical properties of erionite from Turkey and ND are very similar and they showed identical biological activities. Considering the known 30- to 60-y latency for MM development, there is reason for concern for increased risk in ND in the future. Our findings indicate that implementation of novel preventive and early detection programs in ND and other erionite-rich areas of the United States, similar to efforts currently being undertaken in Turkey, is warranted.
Project description:Velvet worms eject a fluid capture slime that can be mechanically drawn into stiff biopolymeric fibres. Remarkably, these fibres can be dissolved by extended exposure to water, and new regenerated fibres can be drawn from the dissolved fibre solution-indicating a fully recyclable process. Here, we perform a multiscale structural and compositional investigation of this reversible fabrication process with the velvet worm Euperipatoides rowelli, revealing that biopolymeric fibre assembly is facilitated via mono-disperse lipid-protein nanoglobules. Shear forces cause nanoglobules to self-assemble into nano- and microfibrils, which can be drawn into macroscopic fibres with a protein-enriched core and lipid-rich coating. Fibre dissolution in water leads to re-formation of nanoglobules, suggesting that this dynamic supramolecular assembly of mechanoresponsive protein-building blocks is mediated by reversible non-covalent interactions. These findings offer important mechanistic insights into the role of mechanochemical processes in bio-fibre formation, providing potential avenues for sustainable material fabrication processes.Velvet worms expel a fluid slime that, under shear force, forms stiff fibres that can be dissolved and then regenerated. Here, the authors reveal that the recyclability of these biopolymers relies on mechanoresponsive lipid-protein nanoglobules in the slime that reversibly self-assemble into fibrils.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>The elderly, who suffer from multiple chronic diseases, represent a substantial proportion of Emergency Department (ED) frequent users, thus contributing to ED overcrowding, although they could benefit from other health care facilities, if those were available. The aim of this study was to evaluate and characterize hospital visits of older patients (age 65 or greater) to the ED of a university teaching hospital in Rome from the 1st of January to the 31st of December 2014, in order to identify clinical and social characteristics potentially associated with "elderly frequent users".<h4>Material and methods</h4>A retrospective study was performed during the calendar year 2014 (1st January 2014 - 31st December 2014) analyzing all ED admissions to the University Hospital of Rome Tor Vergata. Variables collected included age, triage code, arrival data, discharge diagnosis, and visit outcome. We performed a risk analysis using univariate binary logistic regression models.<h4>Results</h4>A total number of 38,016 patients accessed the ED, generating 46,820 accesses during the study period, with an average of 1.23 accesses for patient. The elderly population represented a quarter of the total ED population and had an increased risk of frequent use (OR 1.5: CI 1.4-1.7) and hospitalization (OR 3.8: CI 3.7-4). Moreover, they showed a greater diagnostic complexity, as demonstrated by the higher incidence of yellow and red priority codes compared to other ED populations (OR 3.1: CI 2.9-3.2).<h4>Discussion</h4>Older patients presented clinical and social characteristics related to the definition of "elderly frail frequent users". The fact that a larger number of hospitalizations occurred in such patients is indirect evidence of frailty in this specific population, suggesting that hospital admissions may be an inappropriate response to frailty, especially when continued care is not established.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Enhancement of continuity of care, establishment of a tracking system for those who are at greater risk of visiting the ED and evaluating fragile individuals should be the highest priority in addressing ED frequent usage by the elderly.