Maria Luisa Balestrieri

Professor of Biochemistry

Name Maria Luisa
Surname Balestrieri
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
Address Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and General Pathology, University of Campania "L. Vanvitelli", Via L. De Crecchio 7, 80138 Naples, Italy
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Maria Luisa Balestrieri


  • Rethinking primary prevention of atherosclerosis-related diseases.

    Publication Date: 05/12/2006 on Circulation
    by Napoli C, Lerman LO, de Nigris F, Gossl M, Balestrieri ML, Lerman A
    DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.570358
  • Autologous bone marrow cell therapy and metabolic intervention in ischemia-induced angiogenesis in the diabetic mouse hindlimb.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2006 on Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
    by Sica V, Williams-Ignarro S, de Nigris F, D'Armiento FP, Lerman LO, Balestrieri ML, Maione C, Palagiano A, Rossiello L, Ignarro LJ, Napoli C
    DOI: 10.4161/cc.5.24.3568

    Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a major health problem especially when associated to diabetes. Administration of autologous bone marrow cells (BMC) is emerging as a novel intervention to induce therapeutic angiogenesis in experimental ischemic limb models and in patients with PAD. Since tissue ischemia and diabetes are associated with an overwhelming generation of oxygen radicals and detrimental effects due to formation of glycosylation end-products, metabolic intervention with antioxidants and L-arginine can confer beneficial effects beyond those achieved by BMC alone. The effects of cotreatment with intravenous BMCs and metabolic vascular protection (1.0% vitamin E, 0.05% vitamin C, and 6% L-arginine) were examined in the ischemic hindlimb of diabetic and non diabetic mice. BMC therapy increased blood flow and capillary densities and Ki67 proliferative marker, and decreased interstitial fibrosis. This effect was amplified by metabolic cotreatment, an intervention inducing vascular protection, at least in part, through the nitric oxide pathway, reduction of systemic oxidative stress, and macrophage activation.

  • Cardenolide glycosides from Pergularia tomentosa and their proapoptotic activity in Kaposi's sarcoma cells.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2006 on Journal of natural products
    by Hamed AI, Plaza A, Balestrieri ML, Mahalel UA, Springuel IV, Oleszek W, Pizza C, Piacente S
    DOI: 10.1021/np060228l

    Continuing our investigations on plants belonging to the Asclepiadaceae family, three new cardenolide glycosides, 3'-O-beta-D-glucopyranosylcalactin (1), 12-dehydroxyghalakinoside (2), and 6'-dehydroxyghalakinoside (3), along with the known ghalakinoside (4) and calactin (5), were isolated from the roots of Pergularia tomentosa. The structures of these compounds were elucidated by extensive spectroscopic methods including 1D- and 2D-NMR experiments as well as ESIMS analysis. The isolated cardenolides caused apoptotic cell death of Kaposi's sarcoma cells.

  • Targeting c-Myc, Ras and IGF cascade to treat cancer and vascular disorders.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2006 on Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
    by de Nigris F, Balestrieri ML, Napoli C
    DOI: 10.4161/cc.5.15.3138

    Cancer and vascular diseases remain the predominant causes of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries worldwide. The course of atherosclerosis with initiation, progression, and complication parallels the three stages of carcinogenesis with induction, growth, and invasion of tissue and neoangiogenesis. Within this framework, the oncogene c-Myc and growth factors pathways are acquiring increasing importance. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) pathway emerges among them for its versatile pleiotropic actions. A number of genes that permit extensive communication between IGF-1-AKT, p53, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways have been identified. In turn these pathways lead to p53 transcriptional program, the forkhead transcriptional programs, autophagy, and translational controls, which determine cell growth or arrest, cell survival or death. The increased understanding of the extensive communication and coordination between all these pathways may enable to targeting these events and to prevent neoplastic and vascular diseases. Great effort has been focused on the development of new agents designed to target various steps of c-Myc, Ras, and IGF cascade. However, what have we recently learned about their safety and effectiveness? Here, we review the very recent advances in the identification of novel inhibitors as well as antisense oligonuleotides (ASOs) and siRNA that are proving their usefulness in ongoing clinical trials both in terms of toxicity and specificity.

  • Relative effects of phenolic constituents from Yucca schidigera Roezl. bark on Kaposi's sarcoma cell proliferation, migration, and PAF synthesis.

    Publication Date: 14/05/2006 on Biochemical pharmacology
    by Balestrieri C, Felice F, Piacente S, Pizza C, Montoro P, Oleszek W, Visciano V, Balestrieri ML
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2006.01.021

    Yuccaols (A, B, C) are phenolic constituents isolated from Yucca schidigera bark characterized by unusual spirostructures made up of a C15 unit and a stilbenic portion closely related to resveratrol. These novel compounds are of particular interest for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, their effects on cell proliferation, migration, and platelet-activating factor (PAF) biosynthesis remain unknown. PAF, a potent mediator of inflammation, is known to promote angiogenesis and in vitro migration of endothelial cells and Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) cells. The objective of our study was to determine the effect of Yuccaols and resveratrol on the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced proliferation, migration, and PAF biosynthesis in KS cells. The results indicated that Yuccaols (25 microM) were more effective than resveratrol (25 microM) in inhibiting the VEGF-induced KS cell proliferation. Western blot analysis revealed that Yuccaols reduced the VEGF-induced phosphorylation of p38 and p42/44, thus indicating a possible interference with the mechanism underlying the VEGF-stimulated cell proliferation. Furthermore, Yuccaols completely inhibited the VEGF-stimulated PAF biosynthesis catalyzed by the acetyl-CoA:lyso-PAF acetyltransferase and enhanced its degradation through the PAF-dependent CoA-independent transacetylase (250% of control). In addition, Yuccaol C abrogated the PAF-induced cell motility whereas Yuccaol A and Yuccaol B reduced the cell migration from 7.6 microm/h to 6.1 microm/h and 5.6 microm/h, respectively. These results indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties attributed to Yucca schidigera can be ascribed to both resveratrol and Yuccaols and provide the first evidences of the anti-tumor and anti-invasive properties of these novel phenolic compounds.

  • Lysophospholipid transacetylase in the regulation of PAF levels in human monocytes and macrophages.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2006 on FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
    by Servillo L, Balestrieri C, Giovane A, Pari P, Palma D, Giannattasio G, Triggiani M, Balestrieri ML
    DOI: 10.1096/fj.05-5059fje

    The transacetylase (TA), reported to be identical to platelet-activating factor (PAF) acetylhydrolase (II), is a multifunctional enzyme with three catalytic activities: lysophospholipid transacetylase (TA(L)), sphingosine transacetylase (TA(S)), and acetylhydrolase (AH). We report that TA(L) activity participates in the control of PAF levels in monocytes and macrophages and that its regulation differs in these two types of cells. In monocytes, LPS or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) specifically increased the TA(L) activity. Western blot analysis and enzyme assays on immunoprecipitates revealed that the increased activity can be ascribed to PAF-AH (II) and that both translocation from cytosol to membranes and p38/ERKs-mediated phosphorylation regulate the enzyme activation. Instead, in macrophages differentiated in vitro from monocytes by incubation with FCS, an increase of both TA(L) and AH activities was observed. Moreover, activation of ERKs and p38 MAP kinase was not required for the up-regulation of PAF-AH (II) in differentiated macrophages. The differences observed in macrophages as compared to monocytes can be explained by 1) p38/ERKs-independent phosphorylation of PAF-AH (II) and 2) appearance of plasma PAF-AH in the course of macrophage differentiation.

  • New unusual pregnane glycosides with antiproliferative activity from Solenostemma argel.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2005 on Steroids
    by Plaza A, Perrone A, Balestrieri ML, Felice F, Balestrieri C, Hamed AI, Pizza C, Piacente S
    DOI: 10.1016/j.steroids.2005.02.019

    Seven new 15-keto pregnane glycosides, namely Stemmosides E--K, were isolated from Solenostemma argel. Stemmosides E--J are characterized by the occurrence of an uncommon 14 beta proton configuration while stemmosides E and F possess in addition a rare enolic function in C-16. On the other hand, stemmosides G-J display an unusual C-17 alpha side chain. Their structures were established by ESI-MS and NMR experiments. Moreover, the effect of these compounds on the VEGF-induced in Kaposi's sarcoma cell proliferation was tested. Results indicated that all the compounds reduced the cell proliferation in a dose dependent manner.

  • POX-ACT assay and d-ROMs test: comparison impossible.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2005 on Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine
    by Iorio EL, Balestrieri ML
    DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2005.081
  • Lycopene in association with alpha-tocopherol or tomato lipophilic extracts enhances acyl-platelet-activating factor biosynthesis in endothelial cells during oxidative stress.

    Publication Date: 15/04/2004 on Free radical biology & medicine
    by Balestrieri ML, De Prisco R, Nicolaus B, Pari P, Moriello VS, Strazzullo G, Iorio EL, Servillo L, Balestrieri C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2004.01.014

    Lipophilic compounds contained in tomato can prevent cardiovascular diseases by modulating the atherogenic processes in vascular endothelium mediated by oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). We investigated the effects of lycopene on the metabolism of platelet-activating factor (PAF) and its much less biologically active acyl analog, acyl-PAF, known to prevent LDL oxidation. Lycopene, or lycopene in association with alpha-tocopherol, or whole tomato lipophilic extracts (containing more than 80% lycopene) were used in experiments in which endothelial cells (ECs) are known to synthesize PAF following H(2)O(2)-induced oxidative stress. The results indicated that in each case H(2)O(2)-stimulated PAF biosynthesis in ECs, which is catalyzed by acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase (AT), appeared strongly inhibited. However, acyl-PAF biosynthesis, which also occurs through the PAF-dependent transacetylase (TA), was significantly increased by lycopene only when it was in association with alpha-tocopherol or with the minor compounds present in the whole lipophilic tomato extract. These findings suggest that alpha-tocopherol or lipophilic compounds present in tomato juice potentiate the effects of lycopene on the modulation of PAF and acyl-PAF biosynthesis in ECs during oxidative stress.

  • Modulation by flavonoids of PAF and related phospholipids in endothelial cells during oxidative stress.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2003 on Journal of lipid research
    by Balestrieri ML, Castaldo D, Balestrieri C, Quagliuolo L, Giovane A, Servillo L
    DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M200292-JLR200

    PAF-dependent transacetylase (TA) modifies the functions of platelet-activating factor (PAF), a potent inflammatory lipid, either by transferring the acetyl group from PAF to lysophospholipids (TAL activity), or to sphingosine (TAS activity) or by hydrolyzing PAF (acetylhydrolase activity). In stimulated endothelial cells (EC), TAL activity contributes to the synthesis of acyl-PAF, an acyl analog of PAF, that antagonizes PAF functions and is regulated by the cellular redox state. In this study, we investigated the possible involvement of TA in the flavonoid antioxidant mechanism(s) during oxidative stress in EC induced by hydrogen peroxide. The treatment of EC with H2O2 resulted in 4-fold increase of the acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase activity (AT), that is responsible for PAF biosynthesis, while the TAL activity increased only by 53%. However, the preincubation of H2O2-treated EC with the flavonoids hesperedin, naringin, and quercetin strongly inhibited AT activity and activated TAL by 290%, 340%, and 250%, respectively. The induction of TAL activity resulted in enhanced biosynthesis of 1-acyl-2-[3H]acetyl-PAF in intact EC and was related to the flavonoid structure. These findings suggest that TAL is involved in the flavonoid anti-inflammatory action by enhancing the production of acyl-PAF.