New and Notable, 29 January 2015

The following research papers were rated very highly during the review process. We hope you also find them interesting.

Improving the Efficiency of Organic Solar Cells upon Addition of Polyvinylpyridine

Rita Rodrigues, Rui Meira, Quirina Ferreira, Ana Charas and Jorge Morgado

We report on the efficiency improvement of organic solar cells (OPVs) based on the low energy gap polyfluorene derivative, APFO-3, and the soluble C60 fullerene PCBM, upon addition of a residual amount of poly (4-vinylpyridine) (PVP). We find that the addition of 1% by weight of PVP with respect to the APFO-3 content leads to an increase of efficiency from 2.4% to 2.9%. Modifications in the phase separation details of the active layer were investigated as a possible origin of the efficiency increase. At high concentrations of PVP, the blend morphology is radically altered as observed by Atomic Force Microscopy. Although the use of low molecular weight additives is a routine method to improve OPVs efficiency, this report shows that inert polymers, in terms of optical and charge transport properties, may also improve the performance of polymer-based solar cells.

The Biggest Myth in Spatial Econometrics

James P. LeSage, and R. Kelley Pace

There is near universal agreement that estimates and inferences from spatial regression models are sensitive to particular specifications used for the spatial weight structure in these models. We find little theoretical basis for this commonly held belief, if estimates and inferences are based on the true partial derivatives for a well-specified spatial regression model. We conclude that this myth may have arisen from past applied work that incorrectly interpreted the model coefficients as if they were partial derivatives, or from use of misspecified models.

Cyclodextrin-Complexed Ocimum basilicum Leaves Essential Oil Increases Fos Protein Expression in the Central Nervous System and Produce an Antihyperalgesic Effect in Animal Models for Fibromyalgia

Simone S. Nascimento, Adriano A. S. Araújo, Renan G. Brito, Mairim R. Serafini, Paula P. Menezes, Josimari M. DeSantana, Waldecy Lucca Júnior, Pericles B. Alves, Arie F. Blank, Rita C. M. Oliveira, Aldeidia P. Oliveira, Ricardo L. C. Albuquerque-Júnior, Jackson R. G. S. Almeida and Lucindo J. Quintans-Júnior

O. basilicum leaves produce essential oils (LEO) rich in monoterpenes. The short half-life and water insolubility are limitations for LEO medical uses. β-Cyclodextrin (β-CD) has been employed to improve the pharmacological properties of LEO. We assessed the antihyperalgesic profile of LEO, isolated or complexed in β-CD (LEO/β-CD), on an animal model for fibromyalgia. Behavioral tests: mice were treated every day with either LEO/β-CD (25, 50 or 100 mg/kg, p.o.), LEO (25 mg/kg, p.o.), tramadol (TRM 4 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle (saline), and 60 min after treatment behavioral parameters were assessed. Therefore, mice were evaluated for mechanical hyperalgesia (von Frey), motor coordination (Rota-rod) and muscle strength (Grip Strength Metter) in a mice fibromyalgia model. After 27 days, we evaluated the central nervous system (CNS) pathways involved in the effect induced by experimental drugs through immunofluorescence protocol to Fos protein. The differential scanning analysis (DSC), thermogravimetry/derivate thermogravimetry (TG/DTG) and infrared absorption spectroscopy (FTIR) curves indicated that the products prepared were able to incorporate the LEO efficiently. Oral treatment with LEO or LEO-βCD, at all doses tested, produced a significant reduction of mechanical hyperalgesia and we were able to significantly increase Fos protein expression. Together, our results provide evidence that LEO, isolated or complexed with β-CD, produces analgesic effects on chronic non-inflammatory pain as fibromyalgia.

Geometric Thermodynamics: Black Holes and the Meaning of the Scalar Curvature

Miguel Ángel García-Ariza, Merced Montesinos, and Gerardo F. Torres del Castillo

In this paper we show that the vanishing of the scalar curvature of Ruppeiner-like metrics does not characterize the ideal gas. Furthermore, we claim through an example that flatness is not a sufficient condition to establish the absence of interactions in the underlying microscopic model of a thermodynamic system, which poses a limitation on the usefulness of Ruppeiner’s metric and conjecture. Finally, we address the problem of the choice of coordinates in black hole thermodynamics. We propose an alternative energy representation for Kerr-Newman black holes that mimics fully Weinhold’s approach. The corresponding Ruppeiner’s metrics become degenerate only at absolute zero and have non-vanishing scalar curvatures.

NNK, a Tobacco-Specific Carcinogen, Inhibits the Expression of Lysyl Oxidase, a Tumor Suppressor

Guang Cheng, Jianmin Li, Maoguen Zheng, Yinzhi Zhao, Jing Zhou and Wande Li

A tobacco-specific carcinogen, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), is believed to contribute to the cancer burden in cigarette smokers. To evaluate NNK effects on the expression of lysyl oxidase (LOX), a tumor suppressor, we examined this enzyme at various levels in NNK-treated rat fetal lung fibroblasts (RFL6). Exposure of cells to NNK reduced levels of steady-states LOX mRNA and new transcript synthesis. NNK inhibited all LOX protein species in a dose-dependent manner. Although 300 µM NNK markedly decreased the level in the 46 kDa preproenzyme, under same conditions, there was no detectable amounts of the 50 kDa proenzyme and the 32 kDa mature enzyme suggesting NNK perturbing the LOX protein processing to its mature form. Moreover, NNK also suppressed LOX activities in conditioned media of treated cells. At the promoter level, NNK enhanced methylation of CpG, but decreased acetylation of histone H3 at the core promoter region of the LOX gene. These results indicated that transcriptional and translational processes of LOX are major targets for NNK. Thus, inactivation of tumor suppressor gene LOX may play a critical role in NNK carcinogenesis.