University of Havana
Recent publications
What is it to be “an ideal parent”? Does the answer differ across countries and social classes? To answer these questions in a way that minimizes bias and ethnocentrism, we used open-ended questions to explore ideal-parent beliefs among 8,357 mothers and 3,517 fathers from 37 countries. Leximancer Semantic Network Analysis was utilized to first determine parenting culture zones (i.e., countries with shared ideal-parent beliefs) and then extract the predominant themes and concepts in each culture zone. The results yielded specific types of ideal-parent beliefs in five parenting culture zones: being “responsible and children/family-focused” for Asian parents, being “responsible and proper demeanor-focused” for African parents, and being “loving and responsible” for Hispanic-Italian parents. Although the most important themes and concepts were the same in the final two zones—being “loving and patient,” there were subtle differences: English-speaking, European Union, and Russian parents emphasized “being caring,” while French-speaking parents valued “listening” or being “present.” Ideal-parent beliefs also differed by education levels within culture zones, but no general pattern was discerned across culture zones. These findings suggest that the country in which parents were born cannot fully explain their differences in ideal-parent beliefs and that differences arising from social class or education level cannot be dismissed. Future research should consider how these differences affect the validity of the measurements in question and how they can be incorporated into parenting intervention research within and across cultures.
Background Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFɑ) is a cytokine that manages the host defense mechanism, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 patients. Several single-nucleotide polymorphisms, described in the promoter region of the TNFα gene, have a significant role on its transcriptional activity. These include the − 308A > G polymorphism which increases the TNFα levels with the expression of the A allele. The aim of this study was to explore whether the TNFα.− 308A > G polymorphism affects the clinical state of COVID-19 patients. The study included a total of 1028 individuals infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which were distributed in 3 groups: asymptomatic, mild symptomatic and severe symptomatic patients. The amplification-refractory mutation system was used to determine the genotype of the TNFα.− 308A > G polymorphism. Results Results show a higher tendency of being asymptomatic in individuals carrying the GG genotype (336 of 411; OR 1.24, 95% CI 0.91–1.70). The development of a severe form of SARS-CoV-2 infection was not found in subjects with the A allele compared to those with the G allele (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.51–1.79), except in the eastern region of the country where the risk increased (OR 4.41, 95% CI 1.14–17.05). However, the subjects carrying the A allele had a higher chance of developing symptoms (OR 1.24, 95% CI 0.91–1.70) compared to those with the G allele. Conclusion The TNFα.− 308A allele has an influence on developing symptoms of COVID-19 in Cuban patients, and that it particularly increases the risk of presenting severe forms of the disease in the eastern region of the country.
Background COVID-19 vaccines have proven safe and efficacious in reducing severe illness and death. Cuban protein subunit vaccine Abdala has shown safety, tolerability and efficacy (92·3% [95% CI: 85·7‒95·8]) against SARS-CoV-2 in clinical trials. This study aimed to estimate Abdala's real-world vaccine effectiveness (VE). Methods This retrospective cohort study in Havana analyzed Cuban Ministry of Public Health databases (May 12-August 31, 2021) to assess VE in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 (primary outcomes). Cox models accounting for time-varying vaccination status and adjusting by demographics were used to estimate hazard ratios. A subgroup analysis by age group and a sensitivity analysis including a subgroup of tested persons (qRT-PCR) were conducted. Daily cases and deaths were modelled accounting for different VE. Findings The study included 1 355 638 persons (Mean age: 49·5 years [SD: 18·2]; 704 932 female [52·0%]; ethnicity data unavailable): 1 324 vaccinated (partially/fully) and 31 433 unvaccinated. Estimated VE against severe illness was 93·3% (95% CI: 92·1-94·3) in partially- vaccinated and 98·2% (95% CI: 97·9-98·5) in fully-vaccinated and against death was 94·1% (95% CI: 92·5-95·4) in partially-vaccinated and 98·7% (95% CI: 98·3-99·0) in fully-vaccinated. VE exceeded 92·0% in all age groups. Daily cases and deaths during the study period corresponded to a VE above 90%, as predicted by models. Interpretation The Cuban Abdala protein subunit vaccine was highly effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 under real-life conditions. Funding Cuban Ministry of Public Health. Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre.
In land-scarce cities, high-rise apartment buildings may provide vertical spaces for natural-light home gardening along corridors, rooftops, balconies as well as façades. The vertical space can improve not only urban environmental sustainability but also food security. Using an experimental approach, we investigated the food production potential of a high-rise public housing apartment building based on different gardening systems, food crops, and sunlight availability. A gardening prototype system for building corridors was shown to increase the unit area yield of corridor gardening by fivefold compared to a commercial trough planter system. Additionally, this commercial trough planter system was mainly for leafy vegetable production, whereas the gardening prototype system for corridors is also suitable for climbing crops, such as legumes and cucurbits. Nevertheless, because of the limited space along corridors of the apartment building and the relatively low-light levels on average, corridor gardening was estimated to meet only 0.5 % of the demand for vegetables of the residents living in the apartment building. Rooftop gardening with shallow growing medium (depth < 15 cm) was estimated to meet 3 % of demand, and façade gardening 43 %, given the larger space available. Although the vegetable production potential in this study was estimated based on a particular typology of public housing apartment buildings in Singapore, our results showed that vegetable production in public housing apartment buildings is feasible, and home gardening can produce a substantial amount of vegetables for consumption if well deployed. Governments of highly urbanized cities may wish to invest in better home garden designs for high-rise public housing apartment buildings and encourage residents’ participation in home gardening, which would increase high-rise greenery coverage and improve urban food system resilience. Future studies should also investigate the environmental sustainability and food safety aspects of home gardening in highly urbanized cities.
Currently, the search for inexpensive, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly materials for optoelectronic applications has led to an increased interest in one-dimensional ZnO materials. Attributes such as their high surface area, crystalline phase purity, and high photoexcited response make them attractive for light emission, biosensing, and energy harvesting applications. However, there is still a need for studies that correlate the optical and structural properties of these materials, so they can be integrated as functional building blocks in practical devices. In this work, we report the growth of 1D ZnO nanostructured films using a low-pressure vapor transport technique. Gold-plated substrates allowed us to achieve different types of homogeneous films composed of nanowires/nanorods. Through scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and X-Ray diffraction (XRD) the high-crystalline structure and morphological properties of the materials were determined. The presented methodology also offers control over the growth direction of the nanostructures, as both random and highly aligned matrixes were obtained. Finally, the optical properties of the system were studied by photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL). Along with the excitonic emission, a significant role of defect-related luminescence was found, allowing us to interpret the emission mechanism for the different morphologies of ZnO nanostructures. Time-resolved PL experiments determined decays between 1.9-0.3 ns where an enhancement in the carrier's lifetime was observed as the size of the nanostructure increased. The present study could help us to design efficient ZnO nanostructures with control over their morphology and controllable optoelectronic properties for modern device fabrication.
We study the effects of a uniform and constant magnetic field on the Bose–Einstein condensation (BEC) of relativistic charged scalar bosons. The condensation of magnetized charged bosons is usually discussed in the weak or strong field regimes separately, and in each case, the properties predicted for the condensate are different. Here, we develop a low‐temperature analysis suitable for any field that allows us to observe how the gas behaves for intermediate values of the magnetic field. We find that BEC may occur at finite magnetic fields, despite the gas becoming effectively one‐dimensional due to Landau quantization of the momentum perpendicular to the magnetic axis.
The outer-membrane-derived proteoliposome (PL) of Neisseria meningitidis has been reported as a potent vaccine adjuvant, inducing a Th1-skewed response. This work aimed to assess the immunogenicity of a novel anti-allergic vaccine candidate based on allergens from Dermatophagoides siboney house dust mite and a combination adjuvant containing PL and Alum. In a preventative experimental setting, BALB/c mice were administered with three doses containing 2 µg of Der s1 and 0.4 µg Der s2 allergen, PL and Alum, at 7 days intervals, by subcutaneous route. Furthermore, mice were subjected to an allergen aerosol challenge for 6 consecutive days. Serum IgE, IgG1, and IgG2a allergen-specific antibodies were assessed by ELISA. Cytokine levels in supernatants of D. siboney stimulated lymphocyte cultures and in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were measured by ELISA. Lung tissues were subjected to histological examination. The vaccine prevented the development of both, systemic (IgE) and local allergic responses (featuring lower IL-4, and IL-5 levels in BAL) upon allergen exposure by the inhalant route. Histological examination showed also a diminished allergic inflammatory response in the lungs. After the allergen challenge, cytokine levels in stimulated lymphocyte cultures showed lower values of IL-13 and augmented IFN-γ and IL-10. The vaccine induced a mixed IgG2a/IgG1 antibody response; although only IgG2a was PL-dependent. Both, IgG1/IgE and IgG2a/IgE ratios, showed significantly greater values in vaccinated mice. The findings support a preventative anti-allergic effect associated with the induction of a Th1-like IFN-γ/IL-10 response. IgG1/IgE and IgG2a/IgE ratios could be useful biomarkers for translation into clinical trials.
In recent years, academic publications related to the Current Research Information System in the Web of Science and Scopus multidisciplinary databases have increased. Other bibliographic data sources such as Dimensions have appeared. The objective of this study is to analyze the thematic coverage of the Current Research Information System in the Web of Science, Scopus and Dimensions databases during the period 2000-2020 for a holistic view of the behavior and visibility of the scientific literature in this domain. A search strategy has been designed and datasets exported from these sources are available in Zenodo. For the analysis, dimensions were defined with their variables and bibliometric indicators and the data was processed in the biblioshiny and VOSviewer tools. The Dimensions database provides broad coverage of the topic, which can be seen in the high number of records, sources and total citations retrieved. Scopus has a greater diversity of types of retrieved documents. In the analyzed indicators, it shares with the WoS a high degree of overlap in the other sources. The selectivity offered by Scopus and WoS consolidate it as sources for the recovery of literature related to CRIS. However, these three databases could be complemented with other sources, such as the euroCRIS repository, to retrieve information and obtain a holistic view of behavior, sources and authorship in the CRIS domain.
Mixed-species foraging aggregations of waterbirds result from foraging and anti-predator behaviors, and understanding the dynamics of these aggregations is useful in planning the conservation of waterbirds species and understanding their ecological functions within the ecosystem. This paper describes the dynamics in composition and structure of mixed-species foraging aggregations during the wet and dry seasons in the lagoon system of Las Salinas, Ciénaga de Zapata, Cuba. We surveyed these aggregations monthly from 2009 to 2017. Aggregation structure was analysed through relative abundance per guild, percentage of presence, and participation weight and participation rate. Forty-two mixed-species foraging aggregations of waterbirds were observed throughout the study, with greater species richness (n = 12 species, confidence interval: 10–13) and number of individuals (n = 800 individuals, confidence interval: 565–1,055) in the wet season. During the dry season, the most prominent species in aggregation formation were Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula), American White Ibises (Eudocimus albus) and Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja), which have been identified as nuclear species in other studies. In the wet season, American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) appeared to be the nuclear species within aggregations, something that had not previously been described in mixed-species aggregations of waterbirds. Confirming these nuclear species at Las Salinas is an important next step, given that conservation efforts focused on nuclear species might benefit the maintenance and function of the entire assembly.
Cuba's shelf has been invaded by lionfish (Pterois volitans/Pterois miles), which have become established over the archipelago, including areas of natural importance. The present study aims to evaluate morphometric features of lionfish and to explore the relationship between lionfish size and diet composition in different habitats in the Punta Frances National Park, Cuba. In total 620 lionfish were captured at 29 sites between 2013 and 2016. Lionfish stomachs were removed and their contents were analyzed using frequency and numerical methods. The length-weight allomentric relationship was obtained, and a decrease in lionfish sizes was shown over time, likely due to the extractions carried out. The diet was composed by fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and phytobenthos, with a predominance of fishes. Lionfish caught in seagrass beds tended to be smaller in size and consumed fewer fishes and more crustaceans than those captured in coral reefs. A positive correlation was observed between lionfish body size and gape size; however, no significant correlation was detected between lionfish body size and prey size. Larger lionfish tended to consume more fishes, while crustaceans were more significant in the diet of juvenile lionfish. This is the first study that examines the feeding habits of lionfish in the Punta Frances MPA, and provides valuable information on lionfish inhabiting this MPA across four years of sampling. Furthermore, this research may serve as a baseline for subsequent evaluations of lionfish impact and management actions in the area.
Medical ozone reestablishes cellular redox balance so that it may be a valid therapeutic approach in the prevention and management of age-related diseases with oxidative etiology in older people. The aim of this study is to evaluate oxidative stress and some vasoactive substances in elderly (60-70 years) rheumatoid arthritis patients with diabetes and hypertension, as well as another group with bronchial asthma patients in order to demonstrate the beneficial effects of medical ozone in the prevention and therapy of age-related diseases in these age groups. A randomized clinical study with 45 older patients (60-70 years) was performed. Group I (n = 15) with rheumatoid arthritis + diabetes and hypertension received no ozone treatment, and group II (n = 30) was treated with medical ozone. This group was divided into two subgroups (n = 15 each), group IIa: the same as group I + medical ozone and group IIb: bronchial asthma patients. Indicators of RA in I and IIa groups were evaluated. Redox balance was assessed through defense and injury biomarkers. Thromboxane A2 (TXA2) and prostacyclin levels were assessed in group IIb patients. Medical ozone arrested oxidative injury progression in the Ia group and decreased thromboxane levels and the TXA2/6-keto PGF1α ratio in the IIb group. Medical ozone arrested the progression of oxidative damage and modulated those endogenous mechanisms that promote a suitable redox status and TXA2/PGI2 balance. These results suggest that medical ozone may become a standard approach in the prevention and management of age-related oxidative diseases in elderly people.
This essay is dedicated to Walterio Carbonell (1920-2008), the controversial Afro-Cuban Marxist thinker, on the 50th year of the publication of his masterpiece Como Surgió la Cultura Nacional (“On The Emergence of National Culture”). It was published in a 1961, a year marked by the official declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution, the victory of Playa Girón (the “Bay of Pigs”), and the launching of a massive literacy campaign. Carbonnell’s text confronts the traditional version of Cuban history, which assigns the leading role of the gestation of Cuban nationality to an enlightened aristocracy of White Creoles of Spanish origin. According to this version, such intellectual groups generated an ideology of independence that led to the beginning of the anti-colonial wars against Spain in 1868. Today, this explanation, with slight modifications, continues to be the most widespread in Cuba.
An accurate taxa delimitation, based on a full understanding of evolutionary processes involved in taxa differentiation, can be gained from a combination of ecological, morphological, and molecular approaches. The taxonomy of Magnolia subsect. Talauma in Cuba has long been debated and exclusively based on traditional morphological study of a limited number of individuals. A more accurate description of leaf morphology variation using geometric morphometrics combined with genetic data could bring consistency to taxa delimitation in this group. Leaf samples for the morphological (243) and genetic (461) analyses were collected throughout the entire distribution range. The variability of each taxon was analyzed through multivariate and geometric morphometry, and 21 genetic markers (SSR). The observed leaf morphological variability was higher than previously described. Morphological and genetic classifications were highly congruent in two out of four taxa. Our data brought evidence that Magnolia orbiculata can be considered a true species with very clear genetic and morphological limits. The main taxonomic issues concern the north-eastern Cuban populations of Magnolia subsect. Talauma. The data supported the existence of two clear groups: corresponding mainly to M. minor - M. oblongifolia and T. ophiticola . However, these two groups cannot be considered fully delimited since genetic markers provided evidence of genetic admixture between them. Due to the likely absence of, at least strong, reproductive barriers between these three taxa, we propose therefore to consider them as a species complex.
Background Detecting genomic variants and their accumulation processes during species diversification and adaptive radiation is important for understanding the molecular and genetic basis of evolution. Anolis lizards in the West Indies are good models for studying evolutionary mechanisms because of the repeated evolution of their morphology and the ecology. We performed de novo genome assembly of six Cuban Anolis lizards with different ecomorphs and thermal habitats ( Anolis isolepis , Anolis allisoni , Anolis porcatus , Anolis allogus , Anolis homolechis , and Anolis sagrei ). We carried out a comparative analysis of these genome assemblies to investigate the genetic changes that occurred during their diversification. Results We reconstructed novel draft genomes with relatively long scaffolds and high gene completeness, with the scaffold N50 ranging from 5.56 to 39.79 Mb and vertebrate Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs completeness ranging from 77.5% to 86.9%. Comparing the repeat element compositions and landscapes revealed differences in the accumulation process between Cuban trunk-crown and trunk-ground species and separate expansions of several families of LINE in each Cuban trunk-ground species. Duplicated gene analysis suggested that the proportional differences in duplicated gene numbers among Cuban Anolis lizards may be associated with differences in their habitat ranges. Additionally, Pairwise Sequentially Markovian Coalescent analysis suggested that the effective population sizes of each species may have been affected by Cuba’s geohistory. Conclusions We provide draft genomes of six Cuban Anolis lizards and detected species and lineage-specific transposon accumulation and gene copy number changes that may be involved in adaptive evolution. The change processes in the past effective population size was also estimated, and the factors involved were inferred. These results provide new insights into the genetic basis of Anolis lizard diversification and are expected to serve as a stepping stone for the further elucidation of their diversification mechanisms.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a progressive deterioration of neurons resulting in a steady loss of cognitive functions and memory. Many treatments encounter the challenge of overcoming the blood–brain barrier, thus the intranasal route is a non-invasive effective alternative that enhances the drug delivery in the target organ–the brain–and reduces the side effects associated with systemic administration. This study aimed at developing intranasal gels of donepezil as an approach to Alzheimer’s disease. Three different gels were elaborated and characterized in terms of pH, morphology, gelation temperature, rheology, and swelling. An in vitro release study and an ex vivo permeation in porcine nasal mucosa were conducted on Franz diffusion cells. The tolerability of the formulations was determined by the cytotoxicity in human nasal cells RPMI 2650. Results showed that pluronic gels exhibit the higher release rate and enhanced permeation compared to chitosan gel. Moreover, the combination of Pluronic F-127 and Transcutol® P exerted a synergic effect on the permeation of donepezil through the nasal mucosa. The resulting gels showed suitable tolerance in the RPMI 2650 cell line and physicochemical characteristics for intranasal delivery, and thus gel formulations administered by nasal mucosa could be an alternative strategy to improve the bioavailability of donepezil.
In this work, we report on self-assembling of InxGa1-xN nanostructures under strong nitrogen-rich conditions on Si (111) substrates by molecular beam epitaxy. In-situ analysis of the reflection high-energy electron diffraction patterns allowed to follow the strain evolution of the films as well as to monitor the morphological changes related to the In incorporation. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy images of the samples evidenced the growth of different nanostructures such as nanocolumns and nanowalls depending on the In content. X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements allowed to determine the indium concentration while Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) was used to obtain the composition and thickness of the films and to explore the way in which In and Ga atoms are incorporated in the InxGa1-xN ternary alloy. XRD and RBS complementary analysis suggests that phase separation, occurring at the higher indium concentration, induces both the In and Ga rich phases segregation towards the external surface of the growths. Therefore, the columnar surface arrangement observed on the extreme binary compounds is transformed into separated nanowalls as the indium content increases. The probable origin of this morphology change is discussed. A shift towards lower energies of the low temperature photoluminescence spectra was observed for increased In concentration and a value of the bowing band gap parameter of about 3 was estimated using the extrema binary compounds and the intermediated indium concentration samples.
Through effective management, recreational fisheries can engender economic development, while maintaining stock productivity and ecosystem health. Despite good potential for developing a strong recreational fishery in Cuba, we found poor performance in this sector, resulting from gaps in governance (i.e., regulating laws and institutions), lack of infrastructure, poor communication strategy, and general public misunderstanding. We evaluated the existing governance system against best practices from the literature, described the current Cuban context, and offered 10 non-prioritized recommendations to ensure alignment with national goals for improving food security, livelihoods and ecosystem health: (1) consider vulnerable target species when developing data collection systems; (2) estimate potential social, ecological and economic impacts of management scenarios; (3) evaluate the demand for recreational fishing; (4) clarify goals in statute; (5) create an implementation strategy that recognizes barriers and offers mitigation tactics; (6) develop a data collection and research program to monitor stock and ecosystem status, as well as performance against fishery goals; (7) develop a cost-recovery strategy to fund data collection, fisheries management and enforcement; (8) increase institutional support of recreational fisheries; (9) integrate private stakeholders in the recreational sector; and (10) implement sound communication strategies.
The continuous improvement of policies for access to higher education in Cuba makes it necessary to have a flexible computer system, both for its maintenance and for its evolution. This allows it to respond more efficiently to the changes that occur each school year. The present work has the objective of analyzing the use of design patterns in the conception of a computational model of the admission process. It is presented the operational dimension of the model developed taking into account several of the patterns referred to in the literature. Experts in software development were consulted to assess the convenience of using these patterns. As a result, it was obtained that more than 70% appreciated this use as very appropriate or quite appropriate. In practice, the use of design patterns has allowed development a computer system that has evolved according to the changes that the admission process has undergone over the years.
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2,427 members
Eduardo Ortega
  • Laboratorio de Fisiología Vegetal, Departamento de Biología Vegetal
Annia Hernández - Rodríguez
  • Facultad de Biología
Yoan Alemán Campos
  • Instituto de Farmacia y Alimentos (IFAL)
Estael Ochoa
  • Departamento de Química Orgánica
Octavio Calzadilla
  • Departamento de Física General
San Lázaro y L, 10400, Havana, Cuba
Head of institution
Dra. Miriam Nicado García