Mauro Finicelli

Biological Scientist, PhD

Name Mauro
Surname Finicelli
Institution National Research Council (CNR)
Telephone +39 081 613 25 69
Address Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology (IBAF)-CNR, Naples, Italy
Mauro Finicelli


  • Deregulation of MicroRNAs mediated control of carnitine cycle in prostate cancer: molecular basis and pathophysiological consequences.

    Publication Date: 26/10/2017 on Oncogene
    by Valentino A, Calarco A, Di Salle A, Finicelli M, Crispi S, Calogero RA, Riccardo F, Sciarra A, Gentilucci A, Galderisi U, Margarucci S, Peluso G
    DOI: 10.1038/onc.2017.216

    Cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to maintain both viability and uncontrolled proliferation. Although an interplay between the genetic, epigenetic and metabolic rewiring in cancer is beginning to emerge, it remains unclear how this metabolic plasticity occurs. Here, we report that in prostate cancer cells (PCCs) microRNAs (miRNAs) greatly contribute to deregulation of mitochondrial fatty acid (FA) oxidation via carnitine system modulation. We provide evidence that the downregulation of hsa-miR-124-3p, hsa-miR-129-5p and hsa-miR-378 induced an increase in both expression and activity of CPT1A, CACT and CrAT in malignant prostate cells. Moreover, the analysis of human prostate cancer and prostate control specimens confirmed the aberrant expression of miR-124-3p, miR-129-5p and miR-378 in primary tumors. Forced expression of the miRNAs mentioned above affected tumorigenic properties, such as proliferation, migration and invasion, in PC3 and LNCaP cells regardless of their hormone sensitivity. CPT1A, CACT and CrAT overexpression allow PCCs to be more prone on FA utilization than normal prostate cells, also in the presence of high pyruvate concentration. Finally, the simultaneous increase of CPT1A, CACT and CrAT is fundamental for PCCs to sustain FA oxidation in the presence of heavy lipid load on prostate cancer mitochondria. Indeed, the downregulation of only one of these proteins reduces PCCs metabolic flexibility with the accumulation of FA-intermediate metabolites in the mitochondria. Together, our data implicate carnitine cycle as a primary regulator of adaptive metabolic reprogramming in PCCs and suggest new potential druggable pathways for prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

  • G-CSF contributes at the healing of tunica media of arteriotomy-injured rat carotids by promoting differentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2016 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Rinaldi B, Finicelli M, Donniacuo M, Bernardo GD, Gritti G, Gaudio SD, Forte A, Peluso G, Cipollaro M, Rossi F, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.25074

    Restenosis is a complex pathophysiological disease whose causative mechanisms are not fully understood. Previous studies allowed us to demonstrate the efficacy of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) transplantation in limiting the pathophysiological remodeling in a model of arteriotomy-induced (re) stenosis. In the current research we studied the effectiveness of G-CSF treatment on male rate rats that were subjected carotid arteriotomy in order to evaluate a potentially effective non-invasive strategy that recapitulates the MSC-mediated recovery of injured vessels. WKY male rats were subjected carotid arteriotomy and given a nine day treatment (3 days pre- to 6 days post-arteriotomy) with G-CSF or saline. Carotids were harvested 7 and 30 days following arteriotomy (early- and late-phase, respectively). Although morphometrical analysis did not reveal differences in lumen narrowing between G-CSF- and PBS-carotids 30 days following arteriotomy, we detected a noticeable conservative effect of G-CSF treatment on vascular wall morphology. Histological and molecular analysis revealed an increase in cellularity within the tunica media with a concomitant increase of the VSMCs differentiation markers both at early- and late-phases of (re) stenotic response in G-CSF-treated carotids (Sm22-alpha, Myocd, and Smtn). These findings were accompanied by the downregulation of oxidative stress-related genes in G-CSF-injured rats. The effect exerted by G-CSF in our model of arteriotomy-induced (re) stenosis seemed support the recovery of the architecture of the tunica media of injured vessels by: (i) inducing VSMCs differentiation; and (ii) limiting the oxidative-stress response induced by arteriotomy.

  • Expression of stemness genes in primary breast cancer tissues: the role of SOX2 as a prognostic marker for detection of early recurrence.

    Publication Date: 30/10/2014 on Oncotarget
    by Finicelli M, Benedetti G, Squillaro T, Pistilli B, Marcellusi A, Mariani P, Santinelli A, Latini L, Galderisi U, Giordano A
    DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.1936

    The events leading to breast cancer (BC) progression or recurrence are not completely understood and new prognostic markers aiming at identifying high risk-patients and to develop suitable therapy are highly demanded. Experimental evidences found in cancer cells a deregulated expression of some genes involved in governance of stem cell properties and demonstrated a relationship between stemness genes overexpression and poorly differentiated BC subtypes. In the present study 140 primary invasive BC specimens were collected. The expression profiles of 13 genes belonging to the OCT3/SOX2/NANOG/KLF4 core circuitry by RT-PCR were analyzed and any correlation between their expression and the BC clinic-pathological features (CPfs) and prognosis was investigated. In our cohort (117 samples), NANOG, GDF3 and SOX2 significantly correlated with grade 2, Nodes negative status and higher KI67 proliferation index, respectively (p=0.019, p=0.029, p= 0.035). According to multivariate analysis, SOX2 expression resulted independently associated with increased risk of recurrence (HR= 2,99; p= p=0,004) as well as Nodes status (HR=2,44; p=0,009) and T-size >1 (HR=1,77; p=0,035). Our study provides further proof of the suitable use of stemness genes in BC management. Interestingly, a prognostic role of SOX2, which seems to be a suitable marker of early recurrence irrespective of other clinicopathological features.

  • Early cell changes and TGFβ pathway alterations in the aortopathy associated with bicuspid aortic valve stenosis.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Clinical science (London, England : 1979)
    by Forte A, Della Corte A, Grossi M, Bancone C, Provenzano R, Finicelli M, De Feo M, De Santo LS, Nappi G, Cotrufo M, Galderisi U, Cipollaro M
    DOI: 10.1042/CS20120324

    Previous studies on BAV (bicuspid aortic valve)-related aortopathy, whose aetiology is still debated, have focused mainly on severe dilatations. In the present study, we aimed to detect earlier signs of aortopathy. Specimens were collected from the 'concavity' (lesser curvature) and the 'convexity' (greater curvature) of mildly dilated AAs (ascending aortas; diameter ≤4 cm) with stenotic TAV (tricuspid aortic valve) or BAV and from donor normal aortas. Specimens were submitted to morphometry, immunohistochemistry and differential gene-expression analysis, focusing on SMC (smooth muscle cell) phenotype, remodelling, MF (myofibroblast) differentiation and TGFβ (transforming growth factor β) pathway. Smoothelin and myocardin mRNAs decreased in all the samples from patients, with the exception of those from BAV convexity, where a change in orientation of smoothelin-positive SMCs and an increase of α-SMA (α-smooth muscle actin) mRNA occurred. Dilated aortas from BAV and TAV patients showed both shared and distinct alterations concerning the TGFβ pathway, including an increased TGFβ and TGFβR2 (TGFβ receptor 2) expression in both groups and a decreased TGFβR1 expression in BAV samples only. Despite a decrease of the mRNA coding for the ED-A (extra domain-A) isoform of FN (fibronectin) in the BAV convexity, the onset of the expression of the corresponding protein in the media was observed in dilated aortas, whereas the normal media from donors was negative for this isoform. This discrepancy could be related to modifications in the intima, normally expressing ED-A FN and showing an altered structure in mild aortic dilatations in comparison with donor aorta. Our results suggest that changes in SMC phenotype and, likely, MF differentiation, occur early in the aortopathy associated with valve stenosis. The defective expression of TGFβR1 in BAV might be a constitutive feature, while other changes we reported could be influenced by haemodynamics.

  • Stem cell therapy for arterial restenosis: potential parameters contributing to the success of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2012 on Cardiovascular drugs and therapy
    by Forte A, Rinaldi B, Sodano L, Berrino L, Rossi F, Finicelli M, Grossi M, Cobellis G, Botti C, De Feo M, Santè P, Galderisi U, Cipollaro M
    DOI: 10.1007/s10557-011-6359-8

    Restenosis is a complex and heterogeneous pathophysiological phenomenon occurring in patients submitted to revascularization procedures. Previous studies proved the antirestenotic properties of injected allogenic mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in an experimental model of rat carotid (re)stenosis induced through arteriotomy. In this study we describe some of the effects subsequent to MSC treatment of rats submitted to carotid arteriotomy and possibly responsible for their antirestenotic effect.

  • Morphological and molecular characterization of healthy human ascending aorta.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on Histology and histopathology
    by Forte A, Della Corte A, Grossi M, Finicelli M, Bancone C, Provenzano R, Pepino P, Nappi GA, De Feo M, Galderisi U, Cotrufo M, Cipollaro M
    DOI: 10.14670/HH-27.103

    Knowledge of the characteristics of the normal human aorta has been constrained by lack of data on fresh aortic tissue, especially from healthy individuals. In this study, the gene expression and morphological characteristics of the thoracic ascending aorta (AA) of healthy organ donors have been evaluated, with the aim of providing reference data for the analysis of pathological AAs. We analysed by RT-PCR the differential expression of mRNAs coding for myocardin, smoothelin, alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) and the ED-A isoform of fibronectin (ED-A FN) in AA specimens from donors, integrating the results with immunohistochemical analysis of the same targets. Morphological and morphometric characteristics of the AAs were also evaluated. In order to account for possible regional variations in wall structure, the convexity of the aortic profile was compared to the concavity. No differences in gene expression occurred for any of the target genes between the concavity and the convexity of AAs. Immunohistochemistry revealed a different distribution of total FN and of its ED-A isoform in the media and in the intima. Smoothelin is expressed by the majority of cells in the media, with some positive cells also in the intima. Alpha-SMA is expressed in all the tunicae. Immunohistochemistry also revealed in the convexity of 50% of AAs the presence of discrete areas in the subadventital media with altered structure and cell morphology and with altered gene expression, resulting positive for ED-A FN and alpha-SMA, but not for smoothelin, indicating the occurrence of early lesions also in macroscopically healthy AAs.

  • DNA damage and repair in a model of rat vascular injury.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2010 on Clinical science (London, England : 1979)
    by Forte A, Finicelli M, Grossi M, Vicchio M, Alessio N, Santé P, De Feo M, Cotrufo M, Berrino L, Rossi F, Galderisi U, Cipollaro M
    DOI: 10.1042/CS20090416

    Restenosis rate following vascular interventions still limits their long-term success. Oxidative stress plays a relevant role in this pathophysiological phenomenon, but less attention has been devoted to its effects on DNA damage and to the subsequent mechanisms of repair. We analysed in a model of arteriotomy-induced stenosis in rat carotids the time-dependent expression of DNA damage markers and of DNA repair genes, together with the assessment of proliferation and apoptosis indexes. The expression of the oxidative DNA damage marker 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine was increased at 3 and 7 days after arteriotomy, with immunostaining distributed in the injured vascular wall and in perivascular tissue. The expression of the DNA damage marker phospho-H2A.X was less relevant but increasing from 4 hrs to 7 days after arteriotomy, with immunostaining prevalently present in the adventitia and, to a lesser extent, in medial smooth muscle cells at the injury site. RT-PCR indicated a decrease of 8 out of 12 genes of the DNA repair machinery we selected from 4 hrs to 7 days after arteriotomy with the exception of increased Muyth and Slk genes (p<0.05). Western Blot revealed a decrease of p53 and catalase at 3 days after arteriotomy (p<0.05). A maximal 7% of BrdU-positive cells in endothelium and media occurred at 7 days after arteriotomy, while the apoptotic index peaked at 3 days after injury (p<0.05). Our results highlight a persistent DNA damage presumably related to a temporary decreased expression of the DNA repair machinery and of the antioxidant enzyme catalase, playing a role in stenosis progression.

  • Expression pattern of stemness-related genes in human endometrial and endometriotic tissues.

    Publication Date: 01/11/2009 on Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.)
    by Forte A, Schettino MT, Finicelli M, Cipollaro M, Colacurci N, Cobellis L, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.2119/molmed.2009.00068

    Endometriosis is a chronic disease characterized by the presence of ectopic endometrial tissue outside of the uterus with mixed traits of benign and malignant pathology. In this study we analyzed in endometrial and endometriotic tissues the differential expression of a panel of genes that are involved in preservation of stemness status and consequently considered as markers of stem cell presence. The expression profiles of a panel of 13 genes (SOX2, SOX15, ERAS, SALL4, OCT4, NANOG, UTF1, DPPA2, BMI1, GDF3, ZFP42, KLF4, TCL1) were analyzed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in human endometriotic (n = 12) and endometrial samples (n = 14). The expression of SALL4 and OCT4 was further analyzed by immunohistochemical methods. Genes UTF1, TCL1, and ZFP42 showed a trend for higher frequency of expression in endometriosis than in endometrium (P < 0.05 for UTF1), whereas GDF3 showed a higher frequency of expression in endometrial samples. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that SALL4 was expressed in endometriotic samples but not in endometrium samples, despite the expression of the corresponding mRNA in both the sample groups. This study highlights a differential expression of stemness-related genes in ectopic and eutopic endometrium and suggests a possible role of SALL4-positive cells in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.

  • Injury to rat carotid arteries causes time-dependent changes in gene expression in contralateral uninjured arteries.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2009 on Clinical science (London, England : 1979)
    by Forte A, Finicelli M, De Luca P, Nordström I, Onorati F, Quarto C, Santè P, Renzulli A, Galderisi U, Berrino L, De Feo M, Hellstrand P, Rossi F, Cotrufo M, Cascino A, Cipollaro M
    DOI: 10.1042/CS20080080

    Vascular surgery aimed at stenosis removal induces local reactions often leading to restenosis. Although extensive analysis has been focused on pathways activated in injured arteries, little attention has been devoted to associated systemic vascular reactions. The aim of the present study was to analyse changes occurring in contralateral uninjured rat carotid arteries in the acute phase following unilateral injury. WKY (Wistar-Kyoto) rats were subjected to unilateral carotid arteriotomy. Contralateral uninjured carotid arteries were harvested from 4 h to 7 days after injury. Carotid arteries were also harvested from sham-operated rats and uninjured rats. Carotid morphology and morphometry were examined. Affymetrix microarrays were used for differential analysis of gene expression. A subset of data was validated by real-time RT-PCR (reverse transcription-PCR) and verified at the protein level by Western blotting. A total of 1011 genes were differentially regulated in contralateral uninjured carotid arteries from 4 h to 7 days after arteriotomy (P<0.0001; fold change, >or=2) and were classified into 19 gene ontology functional categories. To a lesser extent, mRNA variations also occurred in carotid arteries of sham-operated rats. Among the changes, up-regulation of members of the RAS (renin-angiotensin system) was detected, with possible implications for vasocompensative mechanisms induced by arteriotomy. In particular, a selective increase in the 69 kDa isoform of the N-domain of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme), and not the classical somatic 195 kDa isoform, was observed in contralateral uninjured carotid arteries, suggesting that this 69 kDa isoenzyme could influence local AngII (angiotensin II) production. In conclusion, systemic reactions to injury occur in the vasculature, with potential clinical relevance, and suggest that caution is needed in the choice of controls during experimental design in vivo.

  • Mesenchymal stem cells effectively reduce surgically induced stenosis in rat carotids.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2008 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Forte A, Finicelli M, Mattia M, Berrino L, Rossi F, De Feo M, Cotrufo M, Cipollaro M, Cascino A, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.21559

    Restenosis following vascular injury remains a pressing clinical problem. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promise as a main actor of cell-based therapeutic strategies. The possible therapeutic role of MSCs in vascular stenosis in vivo has been poorly investigated so far. We tested the effectiveness of allogenic bone marrow-derived MSCs in reduction of stenosis in a model of rat carotid arteriotomy. MSCs were expanded in vitro retaining their proliferative and differentiation potentiality. MSCs were able to differentiate into adipocyte and osteocyte mesenchymal lineage cells, retained specific antigens CD73, CD90, and CD105, expressed smooth muscle alpha-actin, were mainly in proliferative phase of cell cycle and showed limited senescence. WKY rats were submitted to carotid arteriotomy and to venous administration with 5 x 10(6) MSCs. MSCs in vivo homed in injured carotids since 3 days after arteriotomy but not in contralateral uninjured carotids. Lumen area in MSC-treated carotids was 36% greater than in control arteries (P = 0.016) and inward remodeling was limited in MSC-treated carotids (P = 0.030) 30 days after arteriotomy. MSC treatment affected the expression level of inflammation-related genes, inducing a decrease of IL-1beta and Mcp-1 and an increase of TGF-beta in injured carotids at 3 and 7 days after arteriotomy (P < 0.05). Taken together, these results indicate that allogenic MSC administration limits stenosis in injured rat carotids and plays a local immunomodulatory action.