Candida auris has emerged globally as a multidrug-resistant fungal pathogen. Isolates of C. auris are reported to be misidentified as Candida haemulonii. The aim of the study was to compare the heat production profiles of C. auris strains and other Candida spp. and evaluate their antifungal susceptibility using isothermal microcalorimetry. The minimum heat inhibitory concentrations (MHIC) and the minimum biofilm fungicidal concentration (MBFC) were defined as the lowest antimicrobial concentration leading to the lack of heat flow production after 24 h for planktonic cells and 48 h for biofilm-embedded cells. C. auris exhibited a peculiar heat production profile. Thermogenic parameters of C. auris suggested a slower growth rate compared to Candida lusitaniae and a different distinct heat profile compared to that of C. haemulonii species complex strains, although they all belong to the Metschnikowiaceae clade. Amphotericin B MHIC and MBFC were 0.5 µg/mL and ≥8 µg/mL, respectively. C. auris strains were non-susceptible to fluconazole at tested concentrations (MHIC > 128 µg/mL, MBFC > 256 µg/mL). The heat curve represents a fingerprint of C. auris, which distinguished it from other species. Treatment based on amphotericin B represents a potential therapeutic option for C. auris infection.View less
In higher organisms, epithelia separate compartments in order to guarantee their proper function. Such structures are able to seal but also to allow substances to pass. Within the paracellular pathway, a supramolecular structure, the tight junction transport is largely controlled by the temporospatial regulation of its major protein family called claudins. Besides the fact that the expression of claudins has been identified in different forms of human diseases like cancer, clearly defined mutations in the corresponding claudin genes have been shown to cause distinct human disorders. Such disorders comprise the skin and its adjacent structures, liver, kidney, the inner ear, and the eye. From the phenotype analysis, it has also become clear that different claudins can cause a complex phenotype when expressed in different organs. To gain deeper insights into the physiology and pathophysiology of claudin-associated disorders, several mouse models have been generated. In order to model human disorders in detail, they have been designed either as full knockouts, knock-downs or knock-ins by a variety of techniques. Here, we review human disorders caused by CLDN mutations and their corresponding mouse models that have been generated thus far and assess their usefulness as a model for the corresponding human disorder.View less
The establishment and maintenance of ion gradients between the interior of lysosomes and the cytosol are crucial for numerous cellular and organismal functions. Numerous ion transport proteins ensure the required variation in luminal concentrations of the different ions along the endocytic pathway to fit the needs of the organelles. Failures in keeping proper ion homeostasis have pathological consequences. Accordingly, several human diseases are caused by the dysfunction of ion transporters. These include osteopetrosis, caused by the dysfunction of Cl-/H+ exchange by the lysosomal transporter ClC-7. To better understand how chloride transport affects lysosomal ion homeostasis and how its disruption impinges on lysosomal function, we developed a mathematical model of lysosomal ion homeostasis including Ca2+ dynamics. The model recapitulates known biophysical properties of ClC-7 and enables the investigation of its differential activation kinetics on lysosomal ion homeostasis. We show that normal functioning of ClC-7 supports the acidification process, is associated with increased luminal concentrations of sodium, potassium, and chloride, and leads to a higher Ca2+ uptake and release. Our model highlights the role of ClC-7 in lysosomal acidification and shows the existence of differential Ca2+ dynamics upon perturbations of Cl-/H+ exchange and its activation kinetics, with possible pathological consequences.View less
Dianthin enzymes belong to ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) of type 1, i.e., they only consist of a catalytic domain and do not have a cell binding moiety. Dianthin-30 is very similar to saporin-S3 and saporin-S6, two RIPs often used to design targeted toxins for tumor therapy and already tested in some clinical trials. Nevertheless, dianthin enzymes also exhibit differences to saporin with regard to structure, efficacy, toxicity, immunogenicity and production by heterologous expression. Some of the distinctions might make dianthin more suitable for targeted tumor therapies than other RIPs. The present review provides an overview of the history of dianthin discovery and illuminates its structure, function and role in targeted toxins. It further discusses the option to increase the efficacy of dianthin by endosomal escape enhancers.View less
Systematic training is an essential demand for the individual success of an athlete. However, similar training modalities cause individual responses, and finally, decide on athletes' success or failure. To predict performance development, potential influencing parameters should be known. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify performance-related parameters in young competitive athletes.
Individual performance developments of 146 young athletes (m: n = 96, f: n = 50, age V1: 14.7 ± 1.7 years) of four different sports (soccer: n = 45, cycling: n = 48, swimming: n = 18, cross-country skiing: n = 35) were evaluated by analysis of 356 visits in total (exercise intervention periods, 289 ± 112 d). At V1 and V2 several performance parameters were determined. Based on the relative performance progress (Δ), potential influencing predictors were analyzed: training load, health sense, stress level, clinical complaints, hemoglobin, vitamin D, hs-CRP and EBV serostatus. Data were collected within a controlled, prospective study on young athletes, which was conducted between 2010 and 2014.
Athletes improved their performance by 4.7 ± 10.7%. In total, 66.3% of all athletes represented a positive performance progress. This group demonstrated, despite similar training loads (p = 0.207), enhanced health senses (p = 0.001) and lower stress levels (p = 0.002). In contrast, compared to athletes with an impaired performance progress, no differences in hemoglobin values (m: p = 0.926, f: p = 0.578), vitamin D levels (0.787) and EBV serostatus (p = 0.842) were found. Performance progress was dependent on extents of health senses (p = 0.040) and stress levels (p = 0.045). Furthermore, the combination of declined health senses and rised stress levels was associated with an impaired performance development (p = 0.018) and higher prevalences of clinical complaints (p < 0.001) above all, in contrast to hs-CRP (p = 0.168).
Athletes with an improved performance progress reported less pronounced subjective sensations and complaints. In contrast, objective known performance-related indicators, offered no differences. Therefore, subjective self-reported data, reflecting health and stress status, should be additionally considered to regulate training, modify intensities, and finally, predict and ensure an optimal performance advance.View less
Although malnutrition is frequent in the old, little is known about its association with fatigue. We evaluated the relation of self-reported severe weight loss with fatigue and the predictors for fatigue in old patients at hospital discharge. Severe weight loss was defined according to involuntary weight loss ≥5% in the last three months. We determined fatigue with the validated Brief Fatigue Inventory questionnaire. The regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, number of comorbidities, medications/day, and BMI. Of 424 patients aged between 61 and 98 y, 34.1% had severe weight loss. Fatigue was higher in patients with severe weight loss (3.7 ± 2.3 vs. 3.2 ± 2.3 points, p = 0.021). In a multinomial regression model, weight loss was independently associated with higher risk for moderate fatigue (OR:1.172, CI:1.026-1.338, p = 0.019) and with increased risk for severe fatigue (OR:1.209, CI:1.047-1.395, p = 0.010) together with the number of medications/day (OR:1.220, CI:1.023-1.455, p = 0.027). In a binary regression model, severe weight loss predicted moderate-to-severe fatigue in the study population (OR:1.651, CI:1.052-2.590, p = 0.029). In summary, patients with self-reported severe weight loss at hospital discharge exhibited higher fatigue levels and severe weight loss was an independent predictor of moderate and severe fatigue, placing these patients at risk for impaired outcome in the post-hospital period.View less
Purpose of this study was to evaluate the association of the spatial heterogeneity (asphericity, ASP) in intra-therapeutic SPECT/ CT imaging of somatostatin receptor (SSR) positive metastatic gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NEN) for morphological treatment response to peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). Secondly, we correlated ASP derived form a pre-therapeutic OctreoScan (ASP[In]) and an intra-therapeutic [177Lu]-SPECT/CT (ASP[Lu]).
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Data from first therapy cycle [177Lu-DOTA0-Tyr3]octreotate ([177Lu]-DOTATATE)-PRRT was retrospectively analyzed in 33 patients (m = 20; w = 13; median age, 72 [46-88] years). The evaluation of response to PRRT was performed according to RECIST 1.1 in responding lesions [RL (SD, PR, CR), n = 104] and non-responding lesions [NRL (PD), n = 27]. The association of SSR tumor heterogeneity with morphological response was evaluated by Kruskal-Wallis test and receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC). The optimal threshold for separation (RL vs. NRL) was calculated using the Youden-index. Relationship between pre- and intra-therapeutic ASP was determined with Spearman's rank correlation coefficient (ρ) and Bland-Altman plots.
A total of 131 lesions (liver: n = 59, lymph nodes: n = 48, bone: n = 19, pancreas: n = 5) were analyzed. Lesions with higher ASP values showed a significantly poorer response to PRRT (PD, median: 11.3, IQR: 8.5-15.5; SD, median: 3.4, IQR: 2.1-4.5; PR, median 1.7, IQR: 0.9-2.8; CR, median: 0.5, IQR: 0.0-1.3); Kruskal-Wallis, p<0.001). ROC analyses revealed a significant separation between RL and NRL for ASP after 4 months (AUC 0.85, p<0.001) and after 12 months (AUC 0.94, p<0.001). The optimal threshold for ASP was >5.45% (sensitivity 96% and specificity 82%). The correlation coefficient of pre- and intra-therapeutic ASP revealed ρ = 0.72 (p <0.01). The mean absolute difference between ASP[In] and ASP[Lu] was -0.04 (95% Limits of Agreement, -6.1-6.0).
Pre- and intra-therapeutic ASP shows a strong correlation and might be an useful tool for therapy monitoring.View less
This in-vitro study compares the shock absorption qualities of five mouthguard designs measured with a triangulation laser sensor during small hard object collisions. The aim was to investigate the impact of different labial designs on mouthguard performance.
Five different custom-fabricated ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) types of mouthguards with varying thickness and different labial inserts (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified (PETG), nylon mesh, air space) were tested with a triangulation laser sensor during different energy blows, generated with a pendulum testing device. The pendulum hits were applied to the center of a pivoted tooth crown in a custom-built upper jaw model. Measurements were executed with the mouthguards on the model and with no mouthguard as a negative control. RESULTS:
Tooth deflection was reduced with all mouthguards in comparison to no mouthguard. Increasing mouthguard thickness improved the mouthguards' shock absorption capacities. Also, adding labial inserts increased their preventive qualities in ascending order: Mouthguard with a soft insert (nylon mesh), a hard insert (PETG), air space plus a hard insert (PETG).
Increasing EVA foil thickness of a mouthguard, increasing labial thickness, and adding labial inserts (soft, stiff and air space) improve mouthguard shock absorption capabilities during small hard object collisions, thereby improving dental trauma prevention.View less
In 2015, 4062 unaccompanied minor refugees were registered in Berlin, Germany. According to national policies, basic clinical examination and tuberculosis (TB) screening is a prerequisite to admission to permanent accommodation and schooling for every refugee. This article evaluates the use of an interferon-γ-release-assay (IGRA) during the initial examination and TB screening of 970 unaccompanied minor refugees.
IGRA test were obtained during TB screening for 301 (31.0%) of 970 adolescents not previously screened for TB. Positive IGRA results were obtained in 13.9% (42/301). Most of the 42 IGRA-positive refugees originated from Afghanistan or Syria (n?20 and 10 respectively). Two IGRA-positive adolescents were lost to follow-up, 2 were diagnosed with TB and the remaining 38 diagnosed with latent TB infection (LTBI). Demographic features of the 40 patients with positive IGRA result were as follows: 39 male, median age 16.8 years (IQR 16.0-17.2y), none meeting underweight criteria (median BMI 21.3kg/m2). On initial chest X-ray 2/40 participants had signs of active TB, while in 38 active disease was excluded and the diagnosis of latent TB infection (LTBI) made. Active hepatitis B-co-infection was diagnosed in 3/38 patients. All patients with LTBI received Isoniazid and Rifampicin for 3 months without occurrence of severe adverse events. The most frequently observed side effect was transient upper abdominal pain (n = 5). Asymptomatic elevation of liver transaminases was seen in 2 patients. 29 patients completed treatment with no signs of TB disease at the end of chemoprevention and 9 were lost to follow up.
Screening for TB infection in minor refugees was feasible in our setting with a relatively high rate of TB infection detected. Chemopreventive treatment was tolerated well regardless of underlying hepatitis-B-status. Minor refugees migrating to Germany should be screened for TB infection, instead of TB disease only, regardless of the background TB incidence.View less
Non-publication and publication bias in animal research is a core topic in current debates on the “reproducibility crisis” and “failure rates in clinical research”. To date, however, we lack reliable evidence on the extent of non-publication in animal research. We collected a random and stratified sample (n = 210) from all archived animal study protocols of two major German UMCs (university medical centres) and tracked their results publication. The overall publication rate was 67%. Excluding doctoral theses as results publications, the publication rate decreased to 58%. We did not find substantial differences in publication rates with regard to i) the year of animal study approval, ii) the two UMCs, iii) the animal type (rodents vs. non-rodents), iv) the scope of research (basic vs. preclinical), or v) the discipline of the applicant. Via the most reliable assessment strategy currently available, our study confirms that the non-publication of results from animal studies conducted at UMCs is relatively common. The non-publication of 33% of all animal studies is problematic for the following reasons: A) the primary legitimation of animal research, which is the intended knowledge gain for the wider scientific community, B) the waste of public resources, C) the unnecessary repetition of animal studies, and D) incomplete and potentially biased preclinical evidence for decision making on launching early human trials. Results dissemination should become a professional standard for animal research. Academic institutions and research funders should develop effective policies in this regard.View less
Mast cells (MCs) are considered as key effector cells in the elicitation of allergic symptoms, and they are essential players in innate and adaptive immune responses. In mice, two main types of MCs have been described: connective tissue MCs (CTMCs) and mucosal MCs (MMCs). However, little is known about the biological functions of MMCs, which is due to the lack of suitable models to investigate MMCs in vivo. Here, we aimed to generate a mouse model selectively deficient in MMCs. It has been previously described that Cre expressed under the control of the baboon α-chymase promotor is predominantly localized in MMCs. Therefore, we mated α-chymase-Cre transgenic mice with mice bearing a floxed allele of the myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1). Mcl-1 encodes for an intracellular antiapoptotic factor in MCs; hence, a selective reduction in MMCs was expected. Our results show that this new mouse model contains markedly reduced numbers of MMCs in mucosal tissues, whereas numbers of CTMCs are normal. Thus, Chm-Cre; Mcl-1fl/fl mice are a useful tool for the investigation of the pathophysiological functions of MMCs in vivo.View less
Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are tissue resident cells with organ-specific properties. Here, we show that the central nervous system (CNS) encompasses ILCs. In particular, CD3-NK1.1+ cells present in the murine CNS comprise natural killer (NK) cells, ILC1s, intermediate ILC1s (intILC1s) and ex-ILC3s. We investigated the properties of CNS-ILC1s in comparison with CNS-NK cells during steady state and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). ILC1s characteristically express CXCR3, CXCR6, DNAM-1, TRAIL, and CD200R and display heightened TNF-α production upon stimulation. In addition, ILC1s express perforin and are able to degranulate, although in a lesser extent than NK cells. Within the CNS compartments, ILC1s are enriched in the choroid plexus where very few NK cells are present, and also reside in the brain parenchyma and meninges. During EAE, ILC1s maintain stable IFN-γ and TNF-α levels while in NK cells the production of these cytokines increases as EAE progresses. Moreover, the amount of ILC1s and intILC1s increase in the parenchyma during EAE, but in contrast to NK cells, they show no signs of local proliferation. The upregulation in the inflamed brain of chemokines involved in ILC1 migration, such as CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL16 may lead to a recruitment of ILC1s from meninges or choroid plexus into the brain parenchyma. In sum, CNS-ILC1 phenotype, distribution and moderate inflammatory response during EAE suggest that they may act as gatekeepers involved in the control of neuroinflammation.View less
Differentiation between purging type (AN-P) and restricting type (AN-R) is common in anorexia nervosa (AN) and relevant for clinical practice. However, differences of personality pathology in eating disorders (ED) and their subtypes, which can be captured by the operationalized psychodynamic diagnosis (OPD) system, have not been systematically investigated to date.
The aim of this study was to explore differences in personality structure between the subtypes of AN and bulimia nervosa (BN) using the OPD structure questionnaire (OPD-SQ). In addition, the ability of the instrument to support the classification of eating disorders was examined.
Materials and Methods:
We conducted a retrospective, exploratory study in a subset sample of a larger validation study. The OPD-SQ had been collected from n = 60 patients with AN or BN. Patients were assigned to the ED groups by clinical assessment. Statistical analyses included multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and discriminant analysis.
Differences between ED groups were observed on 5 OPD-SQ main scales and 9 subscales, as well as on the global scale. AN-P patients demonstrated the lowest personality structure on most of the main scales and subscales, whereas AN-R patients showed a higher personality structure level as compared to both BN and AN-P patients. The OPD-SQ scales with the largest differences include self-perception, object perception, and attachment to internal objects. Discriminant analysis resulted in satisfactory assignment to ED groups by OPD-SQ subscales.
Personality structure was found to be less developed in patients with BN and AN-P as compared to patients with AN-R. Although the results have to be proven in larger prospective studies, these results suggest that the OPD-SQ may be used to support the clinical assessment and classification in patients with EDs.View less
Hantaviruses are widespread zoonotic pathogens found around the globe. Depending on their geographical location, hantaviruses can cause two human syndromes, haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). HPS and HFRS have many commonalities amongst which excessive activation of immune cells is a prominent feature. Hantaviruses replicate in endothelial cells (ECs), the major battlefield of hantavirus-induced pathogenesis, without causing cytopathic effects. This indicates that a misdirected response of human immune cells to hantaviruses is causing damage. As dendritic cells (DCs) orchestrate antiviral immune responses, they are in the focus of research analysing hantavirus-induced immunopathogenesis. In this review, we discuss the interplay between hantaviruses and DCs and the immunological consequences thereof.View less
Mounting evidence points to a role of the circadian clock in the temporal regulation of post-transcriptional processes in mammals, including alternative splicing (AS). In this study, we carried out a computational analysis of circadian and ultradian rhythms on the transcriptome level to characterise the landscape of rhythmic AS events in published datasets covering 76 tissues from mouse and olive baboon. Splicing-related genes with 24-h rhythmic expression patterns showed a bimodal distribution of peak phases across tissues and species, indicating that they might be controlled by the circadian clock. On the output level, we identified putative oscillating AS events in murine microarray data and pairs of differentially rhythmic splice isoforms of the same gene in baboon RNA-seq data that peaked at opposing times of the day and included oncogenes and tumour suppressors. We further explored these findings using a new circadian RNA-seq dataset of human colorectal cancer cell lines. Rhythmic isoform expression patterns differed between the primary tumour and the metastatic cell line and were associated with cancer-related biological processes, indicating a functional role of rhythmic AS that might be implicated in tumour progression. Our data shows that rhythmic AS events are widespread across mammalian tissues and might contribute to a temporal diversification of the proteome.View less
To screen diagnostic specimens for the presence of hantavirus genomes or to identify new hantaviruses in nature, the pan-hanta L-PCR assay, a broadly reactive nested reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay targeting the L segment, is highly preferred over other assays because of its universality and high sensitivity. In contrast, the geographic allocation of Puumala virus strains to defined outbreak regions in Germany was previously done based on S segment sequences. We show that the routinely generated partial L segment sequences resulting from the pan-hanta L-PCR assay provide sufficient phylogenetic signal to inform the molecular epidemiology of the Puumala virus. Consequently, an additional S segment analysis seems no longer necessary for the identification of the spatial origin of a virus strain.View less
Mast cells (MCs) play critical roles in allergic and inflammatory reactions and contribute to multiple pathologies in the skin, in which they show increased numbers, which frequently correlates with severity. It remains ill-defined how MC accumulation is established by the cutaneous microenvironment, in part because research on human MCs rarely employs MCs matured in the tissue, and extrapolations from other MC subsets have limitations, considering the high level of MC heterogeneity. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)-released by epithelial cells, like keratinocytes, following disturbed homeostasis and inflammation-has attracted much attention, but its impact on skin MCs remains undefined, despite the vast expression of the TSLP receptor by these cells. Using several methods, each detecting a distinct component of the apoptotic process (membrane alterations, DNA degradation, and caspase-3 activity), our study pinpoints TSLP as a novel survival factor of dermal MCs. TSLP confers apoptosis resistance via concomitant activation of the TSLP/ signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-5 / myeloid cell leukemia (Mcl)-1 route and a newly uncovered TSLP/ c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK)/ B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-xL axis, as evidenced by RNA interference and pharmacological inhibition. Our findings highlight the potential contribution of TSLP to the MC supportive niche of the skin and, vice versa, highlight MCs as crucial responders to TSLP in the context of TSLP-driven disorders.View less
Fracture repair is initiated by a multitude of immune cells and induction of an inflammatory cascade. Alterations in the early healing response due to an aged adaptive immune system leads to impaired bone repair, delayed healing or even formation of non-union. However, immuno-senescence is not limited to the adaptive immunity, but is also described for macrophages, main effector cells from the innate immune system. Beside regulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory signaling, macrophages contribute to angiogenesis and granulation tissue maturation. Thus, it seems likely that an altered macrophage function due to aging may affect bone repair at various stages and contribute to age related deficiencies in bone regeneration. To prove this hypothesis, we analyzed the expression of macrophage markers and angiogenic factors in the early bone hematoma derived from young and aged osteotomized Spraque Dawley rats. We detected an overall reduced expression of the monocyte/pan-macrophage markers CD14 and CD68 in aged rats. Furthermore, the analysis revealed an impaired expression of anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage markers in hematoma from aged animals that was connected to a diminished revascularization of the bone callus. To verify that the age related disturbed bone regeneration was due to a compromised macrophage function, CD14+ macrophage precursors were transplanted locally into the osteotomy gap of aged rats. Transplantation rescued bone regeneration partially after 6 weeks, demonstrated by a significantly induced deposition of new bone tissue, reduced fibrosis and significantly improved callus vascularization.View less
Autonomous endogenous time-keeping is ubiquitous across many living organisms, known as the circadian clock when it has a period of about 24 h. Interestingly, the fundamental design principle with a network of interconnected negative and positive feedback loops is conserved through evolution, although the molecular components differ. Filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa is a well-established chrono-genetics model organism to investigate the underlying mechanisms. The core negative feedback loop of the clock of Neurospora is composed of the transcription activator White Collar Complex (WCC) (heterodimer of WC1 and WC2) and the inhibitory element called FFC complex, which is made of FRQ (Frequency protein), FRH (Frequency interacting RNA Helicase) and CK1a (Casein kinase 1a). While exploring their temporal dynamics, we investigate how limit cycle oscillations arise and how molecular switches support self-sustained rhythms. We develop a mathematical model of 10 variables with 26 parameters to understand the interactions and feedback among WC1 and FFC elements in nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. We performed control and bifurcation analysis to show that our novel model produces robust oscillations with a wild-type period of 22.5 h. Our model reveals a switch between WC1-induced transcription and FFC-assisted inactivation of WC1. Using the new model, we also study the possible mechanisms of glucose compensation. A fairly simple model with just three nonlinearities helps to elucidate clock dynamics, revealing a mechanism of rhythms' production. The model can further be utilized to study entrainment and temperature compensation.View less
The circadian clock is an endogenous oscillator that controls daily rhythms in metabolism, physiology, and behavior. Although the timekeeping components differ among species, a common design principle is a transcription-translation negative feedback loop. However, it is becoming clear that other mechanisms can contribute to the generation of 24 h rhythms. Peroxiredoxins (Prxs) exhibit 24 h rhythms in their redox state in all kingdoms of life. In mammalian adrenal gland, heart and brown adipose tissue, such rhythms are generated as a result of an inactivating hyperoxidation reaction that is reduced by coordinated import of sulfiredoxin (Srx) into the mitochondria. However, a quantitative description of the Prx/Srx oscillating system is still missing. We investigate the basic principles that generate mitochondrial Prx/Srx rhythms using computational modeling. We observe that the previously described delay in mitochondrial Srx import, in combination with an appropriate separation of fast and slow reactions, is sufficient to generate robust self-sustained relaxation-like oscillations. We find that our conceptual model can be regarded as a series of three consecutive phases and two temporal switches, highlighting the importance of delayed negative feedback and switches in the generation of oscillations.View less