Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Recent publications
Peru is currently considered one of South America's key emerging markets, with a significant recent history of economic stability. Nevertheless, the same country is also known for having one of the lowest financial inclusion rates in the region. To fight this latter aspect, the Peruvian government developed an interoperable mobile money platform, based on a digital electronic wallet for the unbanked, called the Billetera Móvil (BIM). Based on this mobile wallet, the purpose of this study aims to debate how financial inclusion may be facilitated by the banking sector’s digital revolution. It discusses the fundamentals of FinTech, with a particular emphasis on financial inclusion and associated concerns. Moreover, current research aims to contribute to the understanding of how the recent digital transition can benefit disadvantaged target groups. Field observation and a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach allowed collecting empirical data to support the research findings and discussions. It was found out that, even though there is an effective potential for the digital transition to be impactful in the financial inclusion of the unbanked, a long path has yet to be crossed to achieve a successful result with this inclusive e-wallet.
The ability to empathize with another person's inner experience is believed to be a central element of our social interactions. Previous research has focused on cognitive (e.g., theory of mind) and emotional (e.g., emotional contagion) empathy, and less on behavioral factors (i.e., the ability to respond empathically). Recent studies suggest that the Default Mode Network (DMN) mediates individual variability in distinct empathy-related behaviors. However, little is known about DMN activity during actual empathic responses, understood in this study as the ability to communicate our understanding of the others’ experience back to them. This study used an empathy response paradigm with 28 participants (22-37 years old) to analyze the relationship between the quality of empathic responses to 14 empathy-eliciting vignettes and patterns of attenuation in the DMN. Overall, the results suggest that high levels of empathic response, are associated with sustained activation of the DMN when compared with lower levels of empathy. Our results demonstrate that the DMN becomes increasingly involved in empathy-related behavior, as our level of commitment to the other's experience increases. This study represents a first attempt to understand the relation between the capacity for responding in a supportive way to others’ needs and the intra-individual variability of the pattern of the DMN attenuation. Here we underline the critical role that the DMN plays in high-level social cognitive processes and corroborate the DMN role in different psychiatric disorders associated with a lack of empathy.
Whole milk products are of particular nutritional interest, although current dietary recommendations have focused on reducing saturated fat consumption as a means of improving the overall health of the population. However, this chapter provides new scientific evidence on the potential benefits of dairy fat consumption. The high presence of short-chain fatty acids and thus medium-chain triacylglycerols, which are not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or obesity, along with a large diversity of bioactive lipid components, such as the presence of conjugated linoleic acid, together with milk fat globule membrane components, and fat-soluble vitamins, suggest that these nutritional recommendations need to be reappraised.
Inflammation is crucial to maintain homeostasis in the body. The contribution of fatty acids to the inflammatory process is exerted through a variety of mechanisms leading to cell surface modifications, activation of intracellular receptors that control inflammatory signaling processes, and changes in gene expression patterns. While long-chain saturated fatty acids induce NFkB pathway activation through TLR-4 binding, unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and conjugated fatty acids’ antiinflammatory ability is mediated through PPARs or GPR120. Moreover, these unsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, have immunomodulatory and cytoprotective potential, which is highly relevant for diseases with a neuroinflammatory component, such as obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia.
Different bacteria cohabit different sites of the human body, with special relevance on the mutualistic collaboration responsible for the maintenance of the gastrointestinal tract’s homeostasis. Diversification and composition of the microbiota are influenced by several factors, including diet. Several beneficial effects have been linked with microbiota modulation and its dysregulation have been associated with several pathologies. Lipids are essential elements in gut permeability, being important in the modulation of the gut microbiome. Bioactive lipids like endocannabinoids, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), and omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with microbiota modulation. The endocannabinoid system is involved in the modulation of gastric emptying, gastrointestinal motility, and inflammation. SCFAs are a source of energy to the colonic epithelium and maintain the integrity of the epithelial barrier. SCFAs also interact with the blood–brain barrier being able to modulate brain function. Omega-3 potentially restores the gut dysbiosis that is encountered in several pathologies. Thus, all these bioactive lipids have important functions in gut dysbiosis observed in pathologies like inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Obesity continues to be one of the major global challenges in the present century and its incidence nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. It is estimated that obesity rates are going to increase further by 2030. The available drugs for obesity have not achieved the required level of clinical effectiveness and have been associated with severe health side effects. Diet has been widely recognized as playing a central role in such disorder. Although high-fat diets are often blamed for increased obesity rates, fats are diverse and respond differently in vivo. Saturated fatty acids bind to toll-like receptor 4 (TLR 4) triggering inflammatory processes in the brain, adipose tissue, and liver. Besides, saturated fatty acids are responsible for increased lipid storage in adipose tissue leading to an accumulation of lipids in adipocytes. In contrast, medium-chain fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are related to body weight reduction and a protective potential of both peripheral tissues and brain, in part related to their antiinflammatory capability.
Cold-adapted organisms, such as fishes, insects, plants and bacteria produce a group of proteins known as antifreeze proteins (AFPs). The specific functions of AFPs, including thermal hysteresis (TH), ice recrystallization inhibition (IRI), dynamic ice shaping (DIS) and interaction with membranes, attracted significant interest for their incorporation into commercial products. AFPs represent their effects by lowering the water freezing point as well as preventing the growth of ice crystals and recrystallization during frozen storage. The potential of AFPs to modify ice growth results in ice crystal stabilizing over a defined temperature range and inhibiting ice recrystallization, which could minimize drip loss during thawing, improve the quality and increase the shelf-life of frozen products. Most cryopreservation studies using marine-derived AFPs have shown that the addition of AFPs can increase post-thaw viability. Nevertheless, the reduced availability of bulk proteins and the need of biotechnological techniques for industrial production, limit the possible usage in foods. Despite all these drawbacks, relatively small concentrations are enough to show activity, which suggests AFPs as potential food additives in the future. The present work aims to review the results of numerous investigations on marine-derived AFPs and discuss their structure, function, physicochemical properties, purification and potential applications. Graphical Abstract
The paper from Steiner et al. suggests that an outcome measure expressed in time units may be an adequate method to assess the impact of headache disorders, regardless of diagnosis or health care setting, proving useful for cost-benefit analysis and health policy definition. Using time lost to each attack – weighted by disability – may prove to be a reliable measure to establish the effectiveness of acute treatment, but if considering also the attack frequency it could evaluate the effects of preventive strategies. A measure such as the Headache Gauge, which translates the proportion of time lost to headache -related disability, has proven to be applicable also in routine clinical practice as well, and can be tested in clinical trials and populational analysis. There are practical limitations, such as disability assessment and the need for prospective data collection to avoid recall bias but it seems consensual that impairment related to primary headache disorders is primarily driven by the TIME stolen from the perfect health status.
Background A previous European Headache Federation (EHF) guideline addressed the use of monoclonal antibodies targeting the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) pathway to prevent migraine. Since then, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and real-world evidence have expanded the evidence and knowledge for those treatments. Therefore, the EHF panel decided to provide an updated guideline on the use of those treatments. Methods The guideline was developed following the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. The working group identified relevant questions, performed a systematic review and an analysis of the literature, assessed the quality of the available evidence, and wrote recommendations. Where the GRADE approach was not applicable, expert opinion was provided. Results We found moderate to high quality of evidence to recommend eptinezumab, erenumab, fremanezumab, and galcanezumab in individuals with episodic and chronic migraine. For several important clinical questions, we found not enough evidence to provide evidence-based recommendations and guidance relied on experts’ opinion. Nevertheless, we provided updated suggestions regarding the long-term management of those treatments and their place with respect to the other migraine preventatives. Conclusion Monoclonal antibodies targeting the CGRP pathway are recommended for migraine prevention as they are effective and safe also in the long-term.
Evidence consistently shows that men (compared to women) tend to be more attached to meat consumption, less willing to follow plant-based diets, and overall more likely to express defensiveness toward plant-based eating. This study expands knowledge on the meat-masculinity link, by examining whether negative affect toward plant-based eating helps explain why these gender differences occur. Young consumers (N = 1130, 40.4% male, aged 20–35 years, USA) watched a video message promoting plant-based diets and completed a survey with three relevant expressions of defensiveness toward plant-based eating, namely threat construal, psychological reactance, and moral disengagement. Exposure to the messages did not impact gender differences in defensiveness compared to a control condition. Nonetheless, male consumers scored higher than female consumers in all measures of defensiveness (irrespective of experimental manipulation), with negative affect toward plant-based eating partly or fully mediating the associations between gender and defensiveness. Overall, these findings suggest that: (a) male defensiveness toward plant-based eating may be partly explained by negative affect, which is linked to a greater tendency to perceive reduced meat consumption as a threat and a limitation to one's freedom, and an increased propensity to deploy moral disengagement strategies such as pro-meat rationalizations; but (b) exposure to communication products promoting plant-based diets does not necessarily heighten male defensiveness toward plant-based eating (i.e., this study found no evidence of a “boomerang effect”). Future research on the topic could test whether affect-focused strategies may help decrease defensiveness to plant-based eating.
Oxygen permeability data is relevant for selecting wine bottles closures. Market available stoppers, two natural and eight microagglomerated corks, were analysed for the oxygen ingress over time in stoppered bottles, under different temperatures (8, 23, and 40 °C), with and without contact between cork and wine simulant. Weibull model described well the oxygen ingress. Differences were found between cork types in long-term oxygen pressure (Po) and ingress rates (τ). For microagglomerated corks, Po increased, and τ decreased with temperature, following the Arrhenius behaviour, with estimated activation energies of 15.3 and 35.2 kJ mol⁻¹, respectively. Microagglomerated corks exhibited slower initial oxygen ingress but higher long-term oxygen ingress than natural corks. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) showed that factors related to the bottleneck-cork interface contributed more to the variance of the system than cork type. Liquid contact reduces oxygen ingress around five times. The temperature impact in the oxygen ingress was lower for natural corks.
This paper seeks to reveal aspects of the process of the writing of history and the reinvention of the religious past which became crucial strategic elements in the legitimisation of some of the most important ecclesiastical institutions of medieval Iberia. Focusing on two texts, the Historia Compostellana and the Chronicon Iriense, both produced in the diocese of Santiago de Compostela, and each fundamental in defending the rights and authority of this powerful Galician see, we analyse their portrayal of Miro, king of the Suevi (r. 570–583), to whom is attributed the ecclesiastical organisation of northwestern Hispania. Both texts present this king as a central figure of Galician political and religious identity. The rewriting in medieval Compostela of Miro’s history is shown to be a key element in the disputes between that diocese and other Iberian episcopates, namely Braga, Toledo, Mondoñedo and Lugo.
The effects of probiotics on the skin are not yet well understood. Their topical application and benefits derived thereafter have recently been investigated. Improvements in different skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis after their use have, however, been reported. One of the mechanisms through which such benefits are documented is by inhibiting colonization by skin pathogens. Bacterial adhesion is the first step for colonization to occur; therefore, to avoid pathogenic colonization, inhibiting adhesion is crucial. In this study, invasion and adhesion studies have been carried out using keratinocytes. These showed that Escherichia coli is not able to invade skin keratinocytes, but adhered to them. Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus and Propioniferax innocua decreased the viable counts of the three pathogens under study. L. rhamnosus significantly inhibited S. aureus adhesion. P. innocua did not inhibit pathogenic bacteria adhesion, but when added simultaneously with S. aureus (competition assay) a significant adhesion reduction (1.12 ± 0.14 log10CFU/mL) was observed. Probiotic bacteria seem to use carbohydrates to adhere to the keratinocytes, while S. aureus uses proteins. Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus showed promising results in pathogen inhibition in both in vitro and ex vivo experiments and can potentially be used as a reinforcement of conventional therapies for skin dysbiosis.
Neofusicoccum parvum is a fungal plant pathogen of a wide range of hosts but knowledge about the virulence factors of N. parvum and host–pathogen interactions is rather limited. The molecules involved in the interaction between N. parvum and Eucalyptus are mostly unknown, so we used a multi-omics approach to understand pathogen–host interactions. We present the first comprehensive characterization of the in vitro secretome of N. parvum and a prediction of protein–protein interactions using a dry-lab non-targeted interactomics strategy. We used LC-MS to identify N. parvum protein profiles, resulting in the identification of over 400 proteins, from which 117 had a different abundance in the presence of the Eucalyptus stem. Most of the more abundant proteins under host mimicry are involved in plant cell wall degradation (targeting pectin and hemicellulose) consistent with pathogen growth on a plant host. Other proteins identified are involved in adhesion to host tissues, penetration, pathogenesis, or reactive oxygen species generation, involving ribonuclease/ribotoxin domains, putative ricin B lectins, and necrosis elicitors. The overexpression of chitosan synthesis proteins during interaction with the Eucalyptus stem reinforces the hypothesis of an infection strategy involving pathogen masking to avoid host defenses. Neofusicoccum parvum has the molecular apparatus to colonize the host but also actively feed on its living cells and induce necrosis suggesting that this species has a hemibiotrophic lifestyle.
Entertainment games have traditionally been articulated as leisure. However, they have also been used in the work context, in the form of serious games or gamification. In this qualitative research, we aimed to investigate the purpose of games used in the work context. To accomplish this, we conducted six semi-structured interviews and analyzed the discourses of the heads of the companies that produce serious games or gamification projects for work environments. Based on these statements, we assessed the views of the work context, the workers, and the projects the companies produce. We found that games have acquired different purposes, such as employee control to increase organizational results or enhance workers' happiness and wellbeing. Although these purposes seemed to stand out in all the analyzed speeches, several other different purposes emerged, according to the conditions of entry into the market and the type of projects produced.
Gulosibacter molinativorax ON4T is the only known organism to produce molinate hydrolase (MolA), which catalyses the breakdown of the thiocarbamate herbicide into azepane-1-carboxylic acid (ACA) and ethanethiol. A combined genomic and transcriptomic strategy was used to fully characterize the strain ON4T genome, particularly the molA genetic environment, to identify the potential genes encoding ACA degradation enzymes. Genomic data revealed that molA is the only catabolic gene of a novel composite transposon (Tn6311), located in a novel low copy number plasmid (pARLON1) harbouring a putative T4SS of the class FATA. pARLON1 had an ANI value of 88.2% with contig 18 from Agrococcus casei LMG 22410T draft genome. Such results suggest that pARLON1 is related to genomic elements of other Actinobacteria, although Tn6311 was observed only in strain ON4T. Furthermore, genomic and transcriptomic data demonstrated that the genes involved in ACA degradation are chromosomal. Based on their overexpression when growing in the presence of molinate, the enzymes potentially involved in the heterocyclic ring breakdown were predicted. Among these, the activity of a protein related to caprolactone hydrolase was demonstrated using heterologous expression. However, further studies are needed to confirm the role of the other putative enzymes.
It is well established that physical activity benefits cognition. Further, the time of day one engages in physical activity has been suggested to influence cognition. Here, we aimed to understand if there is a time-of-day effect (morning or afternoon) of physical activity on cognition, i.e., if exercising in the morning or afternoon might bring greater cognitive benefits. A total of 56 participants were allocated to one of two groups with the same baseline cognitive performance as well as fitness level (International Physical Activity Questionnaire—IPAQ): 27 to the morning intervention (M) group; and 29 to the afternoon intervention (A) group. In both groups, the participants engaged in an intermittent recovery test (Yo-yo), 4 times a week for 12 weeks. All participants were assessed with the d2 Test of Attention and the Borg scale of perceived exertion pre- and post- acute and chronic intervention. After the first bout of exercise and after 12 weeks, we observed cognitive improvements both in the M and A groups. Surprisingly, we do not find differences between the time of day regarding cognitive benefits. Our results do not support the existence of a time-of-day effect for the attentional cognitive benefits of exercise.
Candida species are the causative agent of oral candidiasis, with medical devices being platforms for yeast anchoring and tissue colonization. Identifying the infectious agent involved in candidiasis avoids an empirical prescription of antifungal drugs. The application of high-throughput technologies to the diagnosis of yeast pathogens has clear advantages in sensitivity, accuracy, and speed. Yet, conventional techniques for the identification of Candida isolates are still routine in clinical and research settings. Molecular approaches are the focus of intensive research, but conversion into clinic settings requires overcoming important challenges. Several molecular approaches can accurately identify Candida spp.: Polymerase Chain Reaction, Microarray, High-Resolution Melting Analysis, Multi-Locus Sequence Typing, Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism, Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification, Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-mass spectrometry, and Next Generation Sequencing. This review examines the advantages and disadvantages of the current molecular methods used for Candida spp. Identification, with a special focus on oral candidiasis. Discussion regarding their application for the diagnosis of oral infections aims to identify the most rapid, affordable, accurate, and easy-to-perform molecular techniques to be used as a point-of-care testing method. Special emphasis is given to the difficulties that health care professionals need to overcome to provide an accurate diagnosis.
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Margarida Vieira
  • Instituto de Ciências da Saúde - Porto
Nuno Rosa
  • Instituto de Ciências da Saúde de Viseu
Paulo Jorge Pereira Alves
  • Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar em Saúde (CIIS)
Freni Kekhasharú Tavaria
  • Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina
Peter Hanenberg
  • CECC - Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Cultura
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Isabel Capeloa Gil
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