Recently, biodiversity and its conservation have gathered much attention. However, the concept of biodiversity is not sufficiently understood in general and conservation measures in urban areas, particularly highly developed urban areas, have not been adequately discussed. The present review begins with an introduction to the concept of biodiversity and some of the concrete threats to it. Next, the effects of the corridor, which has been often regarded as a promising measure for biodiversity conservation, are reviewed in terms of its positive and negative aspects. Finally, potential measures for biodiversity conservation in highly developed urban areas are proposed, such as amelioration of habitat quality in existing urban parks, improvement of the weeding procedure, and planning conservation procedures based on predictive models.
The increase in allergy patients in the developed countries, including Japan, has become a serious social problem. Of the many foods that elicit adverse reactions, soybean and soybean products, at the same time as representing an important protein source, are known as one of the major allergenic foodstuffs for the Japanese. However, no effective cure for allergic patients has been established. The strict elimination of the offending foods from the diet is therefore generally adopted as a prophylactic method in the treatment of food allergies, but may, if nutritional-fundamental foods are withdrawn for extended periods, lead to malnutrition in young patients. Accordingly, there is an urgent demand for food scientists to identify the proteins responsible for the allergic manifestation following ingestion of the foodstuff and to reduce allergenicity to enable the healthy use of soybean products. The present paper reviews recent information on the major allergens in soybean and the development of hypoallergenic soybean products. Further information on soybean allergens, sensitization to soybean allergens, persistence and symptoms of soybean allergy, and diagnostic features are available in a database at the Internet Symposium on Food Allergens: http://www.food-allergens.de.
Infant botulism is a neuromuscular paralysis caused by the botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) produced in the intestines after the germination and outgrowth of ingested spores of the anaerobic spore-forming bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In Japan, 24 cases of infant botulism have been reported. From 1986 to 1989, 12 cases occurred, all with a history of honey feeding before onset of symptoms. Since 1990, a further 12 cases have occurred, but none has had a history of honey feeding and the origin remains unidentified in most cases. To understand the background of these cases, we determined the genetic characteristics of the C. botulinum associated with type A and type B infant botulism in Japan. Accordingly, the isolates were divided genetically by origin (honey feeding or not) and period. A type B isolate associated with a case in Osaka City in 2005 was considered to be a new BoNT/B subtype. We also established new genotyping methods for C. botulinum type A and type B, multiplex PCR assays for boNT/A gene cluster typing and boNT/B subtyping, which will be useful for epidemiological studies of C. botulinum and the infectious diseases that they cause.
The present paper reviews the historical background of indoor air pollution in Japan and overseas from the perspectives of research and political countermeasures. It also recommends future approaches to these issues in Japan. In contrast to the occupational environment, the indoor air in the residential environment contains multiple low-concentration chemicals. Hence, the fundamental concept of approaches to preserving good indoor air quality consists of non-regulatory strategies based on indoor air quality information, for instance guideline values, labeling systems, and guidance. In addition, indoor air pollutants that are associated with serious public health effects and are extensively used in the residential environment have been the subject of regulations to restrict emission rates or ban the use of emission sources. Over the past forty years, many effective measures have been taken to improve indoor air pollution. However, as a result of major changes in building materials, consumer products, and lifestyle, new issues have arisen such as phthalates in indoor dust and indoor secondary emissions. Continuous and integrated risk assessment to identify high-risk factors is needed, as well as a comprehensive framework to provide further transparent information on emission sources, product ingredients, and management of indoor environments.
To investigate the behavior of emerging contaminants in drinking water, we measured the concentration of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and a number of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in an advanced water treatment system. PFOA concentration ranged from 4 to 225ng/L and 5 to 153ng/L in raw water and final water, respectively, at the Kunijima purification plant. However the concentrations of PFOA had decreased since September, 2007, as the volume of sewerage treatment plant effluents decreased in the same period. It was thought that the consumption of PFOA had decreased in the upstream area. We have also developed an analytical method for 73 PPCPs using LC-MS/MS. The number of PPCPs of which the average concentration was more than the quantification limit at the Kunijima purification plant was 30 in raw water, but fell to two (iopamidol, iohexol) in finished water. The advanced water treatment system, in particular the ozonation process, appears thus to remove PPCPs efficiently.
We examined the metabolic interaction with drugs produced by intake of horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.). The inhibitory effects of Equisetum arvense L. extract (Equisetum extract) on the metabolic activities of drugs with specific activity on cytochrome P-450 isozymes (1A2, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4) were investigated using human liver microsomes. Equisetum extract (final concentration: 0, 0.1, 1, 10, and 100 μg/mL) and the respective representative substrates for CYP1A2, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4 were incubated with human liver microsomes in order to examine the inhibitory effect. In the presence of Equisetum extract at 0.1 to 10 μg/mL, the residual activity of all the CYP isozymes examined was 68.2 to 105.3% of control, indicating no inhibition. Although CYP2D6 and CYP2E retained 66.7% and 73.4% of activity at Equisetum extract concentration of 100 μg/mL, the highest concentration examined in the tests, the residual activities of CYP1A2, 2C9, 2C19, and 3A4 were 21.4, 10.6, 8.9, and 8.6% respectively, showing IC50 values of 31.1, 22.3, 18.8, and 23.5 μg/mL, respectively. Certain components of Equisetum extract, such as flavons, appear to have inhibitory effect; but the amount of Equisetum extract required to exert the inhibitory effect on CYP isozymes is the same. Assuming that all components of the added Equisetum extract have inhibitory activity and that the mean molecular weight of such inhibitory components is 500, the IC50 values were converted into Ki values using Cheng-Prusoff’s equation; giving Ki values of the order of 10 μM. According to Rowland’s equation for estimating the rate of increase in AUC caused by drug-drug interactions, this suggests that there is no increase in AUC caused by the inhibitory effect of Equisetum arvense extract on CYP isozymes. This is a convenient method of estimating the degree of metabolic interaction between food and drugs.
Porous concretes are materials with the same basic components as conventional concretes but designed to have high void ratio and permeability. In the present study, the porous concrete was modified with a visible-light-driven photocatalyst and applied to the removal of environmental pollutants. The results proved the effectiveness of pollution degradation by porous concrete surface layers that incorporate a visible-light-driven photocatalyst. The removal of acetaldehyde and toluene by porous concrete was improved by modification with the visible-light-driven photocatalyst. Methylene blue removal was also accelerated using this method. The present study will contribute to the new application of porous concrete in environmental remediation.
The standard method for nitrite assay in foods employs zinc acetate to remove proteins and lipids co-present in the alkaline sample solution. However, the sample solution occasionally becomes muddy, making it hard to determine nitrite by colorimetric analysis. We investigated the elimination of the muddiness by alteration of the concentration ratio of NaOH to zinc acetate in the sample solution. When the final concentrations of NaOH and zinc acetate in the sample solution were 0.05M and 0.9%, respectively, the extracted solutions were clear and appropriate recovery rates were consistently obtained. Briefly, the sample (2.5-5g) was homogenized with 20ml of 0.125M NaOH at 80°C in a vessel and moved to a 100ml volumetric flask. The vessel and the homogenizer were rinsed with 20 ml of fresh NaOH solution and then rinsed five times with 5ml of hot water. The rinsed solutions were added to the flask each time. Finally, 10ml of 9% zinc acetate was added to the flask and the contents shaken. The subsequent procedures including heat treatment and the colorimetric process were the same as for the standard method.