• ADIPOSE HDAC9 DELETION PROTECT AGAINST DIET INDUCED OBESITY IN MICE THROUGH REGULATING ENERGY EXPENDITURE

      Hassan, Nazeera; Zarzour, Abdalrahman; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Medicine; College of Allied Health Sciences; Kim, Ha Won; Weintraub, Neal; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
      Our group has previously identified histone deacetylase 9 (HDAC9) as a regulator of adipocyte differentiation, and its expression levels were elevated in diet induced obese (DIO) mice.� We also reported that global HDAC9 deletion protected mice against DIO through promoting beige adipogenesis. Here, we hypothesized that adipose HDAC9 correlate with human obesity similar to murine models, and its deletion is sufficient to protect against DIO. To test this hypothesis we crossed HDAC9 floxed mice with adiponectin-cre mice to generate adipose-specific HDAC9 knockout mice (AdipCre-HDAC9), which exhibited 30% less weight gain when fed high fat diet compared to control despite increased food intake, in association with increased energy combustion & O2 consumption, improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. However, unlike global HDAC9 deletion, this was not associated with increased beige adipogenesis nor increase in brown adipose tissue function. Interestingly, AdipoCre-HDAC9 mice fed normal chow diet didn�t exhibit altered energy expenditure nor weight differences when compared to littermate controls. These finding suggest that adipose HDAC9 regulate energy expenditure in response to high fat diet and can be a promising therapeutic target to combat obesity.
    • Aggression and Competition in Captive Western Lowland Gorillas and Their Wild Counterparts

      Dixon, Megan K.; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2015-12)
      Studies of behavior in wild and captive Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) populations have exposed patterns of aggressive and affiliative behavior within family groups. Studies such as those of Stokes (2004), Stoinski et al., (2009), Robbins et al., (2004), as well as others have shown the types of situations, dominance patterns, and social dynamics that lead to aggressive and affiliative behaviors between individuals. This study examined the gorillas of Habitat Three, particularly the adult females, housed in Zoo Atlanta to see the types of aggressive behaviors exhibited, the situations they occur in, and the patterns of this population, looking for similarities and differences to observations of wild gorilla populations. Descriptive analyses show noncontact aggression occurs more frequently than contact aggression within this population. Results of one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA) show there is no significant difference in the amount of aggression concerning the conditions of food presence and proximity to the silverback. More data is needed to retest these conditions within Zoo Atlanta’s population. The present paper also compares the behaviors, specifically aggressive and affiliative, of this family group to research regarding wild western lowland gorilla groups.
    • An Analysis of the Economy of Greece

      Mack, Michaela; Department of Mathematics (Augusta University, 2018-05)
    • Anion Monitoring of Rae's Creek by Ion Chromatography

      Walton, Amberly; Department of Chemistry and Physics (Augusta University, 2018-12)
      Golf courses generally require large amounts of fertilizer to maintain their course appearance. Fertilizer is a source of phosphate- and nitrogen-based compounds. These compounds can have negative effects on aquatic life if there are large amounts introduced to the surface water. The effect of a golf course on anion concentrations in Rae’s Creek was studied using ion chromatography. Over the course of one year, the following anions were tracked: nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, phosphate, bromide, and chloride. The concentrations of the anions were high enough to allow quantitative measurements and changes were observed, but the concentrations remained below EPA guidelines for streams.
    • Anion Monitoring of Rae's Creek by Ion Chromatography

      Walton, Amberly; Hamilton, Sterling; Myers, Stephanie; Department of Chemistry & Physics (2017-03)
      Golf courses generally require large amounts of fertilizer to maintain their course appearance. Fertilizer is a source of phosphate- and nitrogen- based compounds. These compounds can have negative effects on aquatic life if there are large amounts introduced to the surface water. The effect of a golf course on anion concentrations in Rae’s Creek was studied using ion chromatography. Over the course of one year, the following anions were tracked: nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, phosphate, bromide, and chloride. The concentrations of the anions were high enough to allow quantitative measurements and changes were observed, but the concentrations remained below EPA guidelines for streams.
    • APOROSA OCTANDRA: STUDY THE PROTECTIVE EFFECTS OF ITS BARK EXTRACT AGAINST D-GALACTOSE INDUCED COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND OXIDATIVE STRESS IN MICE AND ITS PHYTOCHEMICAL INVESTIGATION

      Schinder, Sonya; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Panda, Silva; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
      Aging is a multifarious natural process, linked with several biochemical and morphological variations in the biological system. Aging not only challenges the increased vulnerability as well as homeostasis network to the cognition and locomotion but also to physical, mental or social activities. Medicinal plants have been used since ancient time to cure and prevent various diseases. Several natural compounds such as isoflavones, anthocyanins, and catechins isolated from plant sources act as a potent antioxidant against ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species).�Antioxidants, especially natural antioxidants are recommended for the prevention of aging. In this study, we utilized an unexplored traditional medicinal plant�Aporosa octandra�(Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don) that�belongs to the family�Euphorbiaceae,�sub-family Phyllanthaceae that is shrub to tree, up to 15 m high and comprises of 50 species, which are distributed throughout Asian regions. This plant is enlisted as a medicinal plant and is used for centuries in the Ayurvedic system. We investigated phytochemical contents of the plant and evaluated the biological activity.
    • Aquatic Therapy Strength Training Benefits for the Leg Strength of Children with Cerebral Palsy

      Quick, Elizabeth; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2015-05)
      The purpose of this thesis is to track the aspects and results of applying aquatic therapy strength training exercises to children with cerebral palsy and determine whether or not the therapy is beneficial for leg strengthening in comparison to a usual physical therapy clinical setting. The experiment was carried out twice a week, for 12 weeks. Two groups of six children with cerebral palsy participated in the experiment, in which they were administered leg strengthening exercises.
    • Asian Pride & Prejudice: The Relationship Between Ethnic Identity & Mental Illness Stigma

      Fang, Shawn; Department of Psychological Sciences (2017-03)
      As Asian health professionals increasingly diversify the medical workplace, their early upbringing – characterized by acculturation, social identity, and “face” concern – may potentially exert influence on their own perceptions of mental illness. Such perceptions, often stigmatizing against others, could impact provision of medical care to the community at large. This study examines the hypothesized correlation between 1) strength of ethnic identity – as measured by an adapted version of the East Asian Ethnic Identity Scale – and 2) degree of mental illness stigma – as measured by an adapted pre-medical student version of the Mental Illness: Clinician’s Attitudes Scale. Conclusions will stem from statistical analysis of self-report online survey responses from Asian full-time college students enrolled in healthcare-oriented undergraduate studies (i.e. medicine, nursing, physical therapy, etc.). The broad aim of this study is to discern how the influence of ethnic identity could potentially interact with and predict mental illness stigma in the future patient care provided by aspiring Asian healthcare professionals. My presentation will discuss the literature-based premise for studying the intersection of culture and stigma, and I will summarize proposed protocol for the research process.
    • Assessing Blackworms as a Model for Studying AVM

      Frazier, Eric; Wiley, Faith; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM) is a neurological disease that affects certain species of birds within the Southeastern region of the United States. Research suggests that this disease is linked to the consumption of a cyanobacterial species inhabiting hydrilla, an invasive aquatic weed. The objective of this experiment is to assess whether blackworms are a good model for studying AVM. Blackworms are invertebrate organisms usually found in marshes, swamps and ponds. These organisms are commonly used in toxicity testing due to many factors such as having a low level of maintenance and being cost efficient. Blackworms were initially exposed to concentrated extracts of hydrilla/cyanobacteria for a period of five days. There was no difference in mortality between control and treatment worms. Two additional experiments are currently being conducted to examine potential sublethal effects. Regrowth of blackworm body segments and rate of asexual reproduction are being examined in worms exposed to the hydrilla extracts, as well as to water and sediment collected from Lake Thurmond, GA during an AVM event.
    • A Baseline Study of Fish Assemblages in a Pristine Georgia Estuary

      Hewett, Melissa; Ong, Claudia; McKittrick, Jacob; Sapp, Mikael; Thiruvaiyaru, Dharma; Sethuraman, Sankara; Moak, Jason; Saul, Bruce; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      St Catherine’s Island is one of Georgia’s uninhabited barrier islands, and is used strictly for research and conservation purposes. It is approximately seven miles from the mainland, and eighteen miles from the Altamaha River. Due to its location, the surrounding estuary has seen negligible anthropogenic impacts throughout its history. Brunsen Creek, on the southern end of the island, is isolated and considered to be a pristine marine ecosystem. This study is a continuation of an initial 2014 study to collect baseline monthly ichthyofaunal data via trawling. Data presented here contains summary information collected through August 2016. Information collected during this period will provide baseline data for fish assemblage comparisons within the surrounding Georgia estuarine ecosystem. Statistical relationships between Brunsen Creek fish assemblages and environmental factors, such as temperature and salinity, were not established. However, consistent relationships were observed in natural migration and reproduction patterns of key fishes that have also been noted in other studies. Temporal trends among the targeted species in this study reflect a well-established natural pattern along the Georgia coast. Following these trends will provide a baseline of expected life history events, and a reference for further research within southeastern estuaries.
    • Bionanofabrication: engineering biomaterials for in situ remodeling and drug delivery

      Batt, Carl A.; Cornell University (2016-02-26)
      The bionanofabrication of smart materials presents opportunities in fields as far ranging as food science and medicine. The tools of molecular biology allow for the in vivo and in vitro production of unique biomolecules enabling not only the direct(ed) creation of novel proteins but also catalysts that can then produce other non-protein polymers. An example is the biodegradable polymer, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), which is normally produced by a number of different bacteria. It is synthesized through a series of three enzymes but only one, polyhydroxalkanoate synthetase (PHAC) is required for the conversion of a soluble CoA-substrate into an insoluble hydrophobic polymer. Our laboratory has pioneered the in situ formation of PHA by engineering PHAC and targeting it toward fabricated and native substrates. Once on-site polymer formation can be initiated by introducing the substrate. Alternatively polymers can be formed in vitro and then delivered to the target site. Beyond the localized impact by the introduction of significant quantities of a highly hydrophobic polymer, PHA can also be used as a vehicle for the delivery of therapeutic drugs and once there release their cargo through its normal degradation process. Applications to cancer therapy and in situ engineering of microvasculature will be presented.
    • Bisphenol A (BPA) Contamination in Yellow-Bellied Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta)

      McDavid, Kayla; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2017-05)
      Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a chemical that is recognized for being in a variety of consumer products, particularly to make plastic food containers and drink bottles (Makinwa, 2015). It was estimated in 2011 that about 5.5 million metric tons of BPA have been consumed globally (Flint, 2011). This is cause for alarm because it is classified as moderately toxic to aquatic life by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Flint, 2011). BPA can negatively affect gene expression and hormone pathways. It is also known for triggering sex changes during embryonic stages in turtles and caiman (Flint, 2011). A major source of BPA is littering of plastics, which enter ponds and wetlands and may become incorporated into the food web of aquatic species (Campani, 2013). When plastic products degrade, BPA is leached into the soil and can potentially flow into neighboring waterways (Makinwa, 2015). Animals acquire BPA through direct ingestion of plastic particles or through consuming plants or animals that have accumulated BPA. Previous research has shown that Bisphenol A acts as an endocrine disruptor on painted turtles, caiman, fish, and amphibians (Jandegian, 2015). It mimics the hormone estrogen, which at sufficient concentrations, may cause developing male embryos to produce female reproductive tissue. Snails have been observed to undergo “superfeminization” when exposed to about 1 μg/L (Flint, 2011). This superfeminization caused “additional female organs, enlarged sex organs, and oviduct deformities” (Flint, 2011). There is evidence that Bisphenol A causes feminization in most animals that have been studied, although the mechanism has yet to be found (Krüger, 2005). Turtles are often used as environmental indicators because they are omnivorous and tend to be long-lived. Their longevity makes them more likely than short-lived species to bioaccumulate toxins.If BPA concentrations are high in turtles, then it is likely that humans have absorbed a certain amount that may contribute to unknown biological consequences. Research has shown that there are links between this contaminant and the rates of cancer development, obesity, and the probability of a child developing neurological problem when exposed. According to the analysis of 315 urine samples “93% of people had detectable levels of BPA” (Kinch, 2015). The objective of my research was to quantify BPA concentrations in Yellow-bellied sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta) and their habitat. Blood samples were collected from the subcarapacial or dorsal coccygeal vein of each turtle captured. Additionally, soil samples were taken at the edge of the water. Study Areas Blood samples were collected from 9 turtles trapped at Reed Creek Park. Additional samples were collected from 22 turtles from Brick Pond Park. Reed Creek Park is in Martinez, Georgia (33.53375598, -82.08555523) (Google maps, 2016). Brick Pond Park is in North Augusta, South Carolina (33.4874273, -81.9786814) (Google maps, 2016). Ten soil samples were collected at each location. The soil samples were analyzed for BPA quantities and compared with the amounts of BPA that were recorded from the blood samples taken from the captured turtles. [Introduction]
    • Characterization of 5HT1B and 5HT7 using Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer

      Adams, Elizabeth; Department of Chemistry and Physics (Augusta University, 2019-05)
    • CHARACTERIZING THE ROLE OF PANCREATIC STELLATE CELLS IN THE TRANSITION OF CHRONIC PANCREATITIS TO PANCREATIC CANCER

      Godoy, Catalina; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology; Csanyi, Gabor; Sabbatini, Maria; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
      Background- Chronic pancreatitis (CP) and pancreatic cancer are two diseases that share a mutual histological feature known as fibrosis produced by pancreatic stellate cells (PaSCs). In response to pancreatic inflammation, PaSCs are activated from quiescent phenotype into myofibroblast-like cells, which express extracellular matrix components. PaSCs are also known to facilitate the migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells, which are accompanied by increased matrix metalloprotease (MMP) production and epithelial-to mesenchymal transition (EMT). NADPH oxidase (Nox) is a family of enzymes that catalyze the transfer of an electron from NAD(P)H to oxygen to generate superoxide or hydrogen peroxide. Because Nox1 is expressed in PaSCs, the objective of this study was to assess the extent to which Nox1 in PaSCs facilitates the migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells by regulating the expression of MMP and genes involved in EMT. Results/Discussion-We found that the lack of Nox1 lowers the expression of MMP-9 mRNA and the EMT-induced gene Snail in PaSCs. Further studies need to be done in PaSCs from mice with CP and CP-associated oncogenic KRas-driven pancreatic cancer.
    • Christianity as a Coping Method for Post-Traumatic Stress Demonstrated Through 19th - and 20th -Century Literature

      Smith, Allyson; Department of English and Foreign Languages (Augusta University, 2019-05)
    • Chronic Consumption of DNOP Induces an Epithelial-to-mesenchymal Transition State in Mouse Liver

      Amin, Monisha; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      Hepatocellular carcinoma is the cancer of the liver cells that is developed over time by the evolution of pre-neoplastic lesions. Di-n-octylphthalate (DNOP) is a plasticizer used to keep plastics flexible. If mice are exposed to DNOP, it causes an increase in pre-neoplastic hepatic lesions. Previously, our group found that DNOP increased the expression of transforming growth factor β (tgf-β) in AML-12 cells. Because tgf-β induces an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) state in mouse hepatocyte in vitro, our goal was to study the extent to which DNOP induces an EMT state in mouse liver. Two antibodies were used: anti-albumin antibody (a hepatocyte marker), and anti-vimentin (a mesenchymal cell maker). We first treated AML-12 cells with 0.1 % DNOP for 24, 48 and 72 h. No changes in the expression of albumin was seen. Because the limited time of 72 h may not have allowed sufficient time for a change in the phenotype, mice were fed diet containing 0.1 % DNOP for a month. We found that DNOP decreased the levels of albumin, whereas increased the levels of vimentin. In conclusion, chronic consumption of DNOP induces an EMT state in mouse liver. This mechanism may be involved in formation of hepatic pre-neoplastic lesions.
    • Chronic Treatment with Risperidone Modulates Molecular Signaling in the Prefrontal Cortex and Hippocampus

      Lalani, Ashish; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2016-12)
      Risperidone is a commonly prescribed antipsychotic drug that is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and relieve irritability in autistic children. Antipsychotics are believed to work by modulating neurotransmission events such as the synaptic neurotransmitter-to-receptor interactions towards dopamine receptors to improve mood and behavior. Chronic treatment with risperidone may negatively affect learning and memory through mechanisms mediated by epigenetic changes, such as histone post-translational modifications. We completed behavioral and molecular studies and found that the results of the behavioral studies of risperidone treated show that the rats treated with risperidone may be cognitively impaired. Our molecular work showed a trend of decreased total histone H3 protein throughout the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex and increased acetylation in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex after chronic exposure to Risperidone for 180 days via drinking water, potentially indicative of a compensatory mechanism to increase protein expression, attempting to subsist with loss of total protein. If the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are not working properly due to a disruption in cellular homeostasis, then there may be an issue with long and short term memory, eventually leading to impaired cognitive processes. Further studies will need to be done such as probing the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex for additional post-translational modifications to lysine residues such as methylation and expression of proteins associated with the molecular mechanisms that underlie memory function in other parts of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus to develop a full story of the chronic effects of risperidone.
    • Chronic Treatment with Risperidone Modulates Molecular Signaling in the Prefrontal Cortex and Hippocampus

      Lalani, Ashish; Hernandez, Caterina; Poddar, Indrani; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      Risperidone is a commonly prescribed antipsychotic drug that is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and relieve irritability in autistic children. Antipsychotics are believed to work by modulating neurotransmission events such as the neurotransmitter-synaptic membrane receptor interactions towards dopamine receptors to improve mood and behavior. Chronic treatment with Risperidone, while it does have many positive effects on the symptoms of psychotic ailments such as irritability, may negatively affect learning and memory through epigenetic changes. Epigenetic changes can include histone modifications, which are indirectly associated with chronic use of antipsychotics. We completed both a behavioral study and a molecular study and found that chronic use of Risperidone does materialize a basis for cognitive impairments. For example, our passive avoidance test showed that the rats treated with Risperidone had cognitive impairments. Coupled with our molecular work, we found a trend of decreased acetylation at 90 days and then increased acetylation at 180 days and decreased total protein throughout, indicating that the brains of the rats are trying to increase protein expression by increasing acetylation, trying to cope with the loss of total protein. Further studies will need to be done such as probing for methylation and looking at protein expression in other parts of the pre-frontal cortex and hippocampus to develop a full story of the chronic effects of Risperidone on the brain.