Latest PUBLICATIONS

  • Impact of phytosterols on liver and distal colon metabolome in experimental murine colitis model: an explorative study.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2019, on Journal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry
    by Iaccarino N, Amato J, Pagano B, Di Porzio A, Micucci M, Bolelli L, Aldini R, Novellino E, Budriesi R, Randazzo A
    DOI: 10.1080/14756366.2019.1611802

    Phytosterols are known to reduce plasma cholesterol levels and thereby reduce cardiovascular risk. Studies conducted on human and animal models have demonstrated that these compounds have also anti-inflammatory effects. Recently, an experimental colitis model (dextran sulphate sodium-induced) has shown that pre-treatment with phytosterols decreases infiltration of inflammatory cells and accelerates mucosal healing. This study aims to understand the mechanism underlying the colitis by analysing the end-products of the metabolism in distal colon and liver excised from the same mice used in the previous work. In particular, an unsupervised gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and NMR based metabolomics approach was employed to identify the metabolic pathways perturbed by the dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) insult (i.e. Krebs cycle, carbohydrate, amino acids, and nucleotide metabolism). Interestingly, phytosterols were able to restore the homeostatic equilibrium of the hepatic and colonic metabolome.

  • A comparative assessment of metals and phthalates in commercial tea infusions: A starting point to evaluate their tolerance limits.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2019, on Food chemistry
    by Troisi J, Richards S, Symes S, Ferretti V, Di Maio A, Amoresano A, Daniele B, Aliberti F, Guida M, Trifuoggi M, De Castro O
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.02.115

    Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the word. Here we report the concentrations of metals and phthalates in 32 commercial tea packages. The data were used to estimate the average daily intake of metals and phthalates, and associated Hazard Quotients (HQ) were calculated in order to determine risk of non-cancerous health effects for adults consuming tea on a daily basis. Tea samples were chosen based on the sales network, the price, the marketing quality and the presence of filters in the packages. Relatively high median concentrations of Al (5240 µg/L), Ni (44 µg/L), and Mn (2919 µg/L) were detected. No metals or phthalates quantified in the tea infusions and soluble tea showed an HQ greater than 1, indicating no risk of non-cancerous health effects. The data presented herein may serve as a starting point to evaluate tolerance limits of metals and phthalate in the tea infusion.

  • MicroRNA-33 and SIRT1 influence the coronary thrombus burden in hyperglycemic STEMI patients.

    Publication Date: 11/07/2019, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by D'Onofrio N, Sardu C, Paolisso P, Minicucci F, Gragnano F, Ferraraccio F, Panarese I, Scisciola L, Mauro C, Rizzo MR, Mansueto G, Varavallo F, Brunitto G, Caserta R, Tirino V, Papaccio G, Barbieri M, Paolisso G, Balestrieri ML, Marfella R
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.29064

    Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) is a pivotal treatment in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients. However, in hyperglycemic-STEMI patients, the incidence of death is still significant. Here, the involvement of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and miR33 on the pro-inflammatory/pro-coagulable state of the coronary thrombus was investigated. Moreover, 1-year outcomes in hyperglycemic STEMI in patients subjected to thrombus aspiration before PPCI were evaluated. Results showed that hyperglycemic thrombi displayed higher size and increased miR33, reactive oxygen species, and pro-inflammatory/pro-coagulable markers. Conversely, the hyperglycemic thrombi showed a lower endothelial SIRT1 expression. Moreover, in vitro experiments on endothelial cells showed a causal effect of SIRT1 modulation on the pro-inflammatory/pro-coagulative state via hyperglycemia-induced miR33 expression. Finally, SIRT1 expression negatively correlated with STEMI outcomes. These observations demonstrate the involvement of the miR33/SIRT1 pathway in the increased pro-inflammatory and pro-coagulable state of coronary thrombi in hyperglycemic STEMI patients.

  • The microRNA-29a Modulates Serotonin 5-HT7 Receptor Expression and Its Effects on Hippocampal Neuronal Morphology.

    Publication Date: 10/07/2019, on Molecular neurobiology
    by Volpicelli F, Speranza L, Pulcrano S, De Gregorio R, Crispino M, De Sanctis C, Leopoldo M, Lacivita E, di Porzio U, Bellenchi GC, Perrone-Capano C
    DOI: 10.1007/s12035-019-01690-x

    miRNAs are master regulators of gene expression in diverse biological processes, including the modulation of neuronal cytoarchitecture. The identification of their physiological target genes remains one of the outstanding challenges. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the activation of serotonin receptor 7 (5-HT7R) plays a key role in regulating the neuronal structure, synaptogenesis, and synaptic plasticity during embryonic and early postnatal development of the central nervous system (CNS). In order to identify putative miRNAs targeting the 3'UTR of 5-HT7R mouse transcript, we used a computational prediction tool and detected the miR-29 family members as the only candidates. Thus, since miR-29a is more expressed than other members in the brain, we investigated its possible involvement in the regulation of neuronal morphology mediated by 5-HT7R. By luciferase assay, we show that miR-29a can act as a post-transcriptional regulator of 5-HT7R mRNA. Indeed, it downregulates 5-HT7R gene expression in cultured hippocampal neurons, while the expression of other serotonin receptors is not affected. From a functional point of view, miR-29a overexpression in hippocampal primary cultures impairs the 5HT7R-dependent neurite elongation and remodeling through the inhibition of the ERK intracellular signaling pathway. In vivo, the upregulation of miR-29a in the developing hippocampus parallels with the downregulation of 5-HT7R expression, supporting the hypothesis that this miRNA is a physiological modulator of 5-HT7R expression in the CNS.

  • Bio-Inspired Dual-Selective <i>BCL-2</i>/<i>c-MYC</i> G-Quadruplex Binders: Design, Synthesis, and Anticancer Activity of Drug-like Imidazo[2,1-<i>i</i>]purine Derivatives.

    Publication Date: 10/07/2019, on Journal of medicinal chemistry
    by Pelliccia S, Amato J, Capasso D, Di Gaetano S, Massarotti A, Piccolo M, Irace C, Tron GC, Pagano B, Randazzo A, Novellino E, Giustiniano M
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00262

    In the search for new drug-like selective G-quadruplex binders, a bioinspired design focused on the use of nucleobases as synthons in a multicomponent reaction was herein proved to be viable and successful. Hence, a new class of multifunctionalized imidazo[2,1-]purine derivatives, easily synthesized with a convergent approach, allowed for the identification of the first dual / gene promoter G-quadruplex ligand. Biophysical studies involving circular dichroism melting experiments, microscale thermophoresis measurements, NMR titrations, and computational docking calculations, as well as biological investigations including cytotoxicity and apoptotic assays, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analyses, were performed to assess the potency and to characterize the binding mode of the newly identified lead compound. The absence of toxicity toward normal cells, together with the small molecular weight (≅500 Da), the water solubility, the ease of functionalization, and the selectivity profile, are promising and desirable features to develop G-quadruplex binders as safe and effective anticancer agents.

  • Insights into the G-rich VEGF-binding aptamer V7t1: when two G-quadruplexes are better than one!

    Publication Date: 05/07/2019, on Nucleic acids research
    by Moccia F, Riccardi C, Musumeci D, Leone S, Oliva R, Petraccone L, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkz589

    The G-quadruplex-forming VEGF-binding aptamer V7t1 was previously found to be highly polymorphic in a K+-containing solution and, to restrict its conformational preferences to a unique, well-defined form, modified nucleotides (LNA and/or UNA) were inserted in its sequence. We here report an in-depth biophysical characterization of V7t1 in a Na+-rich medium, mimicking the extracellular environment in which VEGF targeting should occur, carried out combining several techniques to analyse the conformational behaviour of the aptamer and its binding to the protein. Our results demonstrate that, in the presence of high Na+ concentrations, V7t1 behaves in a very different way if subjected or not to annealing procedures, as evidenced by native gel electrophoresis, size exclusion chromatography and dynamic light scattering analysis. Indeed, not-annealed V7t1 forms both monomeric and dimeric G-quadruplexes, while the annealed oligonucleotide is a monomeric species. Remarkably, only the dimeric aptamer efficiently binds VEGF, showing higher affinity for the protein compared to the monomeric species. These findings provide new precious information for the development of improved V7t1 analogues, allowing more efficient binding to the cancer-related protein and the design of effective biosensors or theranostic devices based on VEGF targeting.

  • Association of human leukocyte antigen-G 14 bp polymorphism with recurrent pregnancy loss in European countries: a meta-analysis of literature studies.

    Publication Date: 04/07/2019, on Fertility and sterility
    by Monti M, Lupoli R, Sosa Fernandez LM, Cirillo F, Di Minno MND
    DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.05.003

    To study the controversial association between human leukocyte antigen-G (HLA-G) 14 bp polymorphism and recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). We performed a meta-analysis of studies in the literature that enrolled only women of European countries who experienced RPL spontaneously or after undergoing IVF.

  • Characterization of a Surface-Active Protein Extracted from a Marine Strain of <i>Penicillium chrysogenum</i>.

    Publication Date: 02/07/2019, on International journal of molecular sciences
    by Cicatiello P, Stanzione I, Dardano P, De Stefano L, Birolo L, De Chiaro A, Monti DM, Petruk G, D'Errico G, Giardina P
    DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133242

    Marine microorganisms represent a reservoir of new promising secondary metabolites. Surface-active proteins with good emulsification activity can be isolated from fungal species that inhabit the marine environment and can be promising candidates for different biotechnological applications. In this study a novel surface-active protein, named Sap-, was purified from a marine strain of The effect of salt concentration and temperature on protein production was analyzed, and a purification method was set up. The purified protein, identified as Pc13g06930, was annotated as a hypothetical protein. It was able to form emulsions, which were stable for at least one month, with an emulsification index comparable to that of other known surface-active proteins. The surface tension reduction was analyzed as function of protein concentration and a critical micellar concentration of 2 μM was determined. At neutral or alkaline pH, secondary structure changes were monitored over time, concurrently with the appearance of protein precipitation. Formation of amyloid-like fibrils of SAP was demonstrated by spectroscopic and microscopic analyses. Moreover, the effect of protein concentration, a parameter affecting kinetics of fibril formation, was investigated and an on-pathway involvement of micellar aggregates during the fibril formation process was suggested.

  • Full-field electroretinography, visual acuity and visual fields in Usher syndrome: a multicentre European study.

    Publication Date: 02/07/2019, on Documenta ophthalmologica. Advances in ophthalmology
    by Stingl K, Kurtenbach A, Hahn G, Kernstock C, Hipp S, Zobor D, Kohl S, Bonnet C, Mohand-Saïd S, Audo I, Fakin A, Hawlina M, Testa F, Simonelli F, Petit C, Sahel JA, Zrenner E
    DOI: 10.1007/s10633-019-09704-8

    Usher syndrome (USH) is a multisensory deficiency involving vision, hearing and the vestibular system. The purpose of this study is to report on the functional data (i.e. electroretinography, visual fields, visual acuity) of patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) due to Usher syndrome that were collected in a multicentre European study (TREATRUSH).

  • Prospective memory in Parkinson's disease: the role of the motor subtypes.

    Publication Date: 29/06/2019, on Journal of neurology
    by D'Iorio A, Maggi G, Vitale C, Amboni M, Di Meglio D, Trojano L, Santangelo G
    DOI: 10.1007/s00415-019-09448-0

    Prospective memory (PM) is defined as memory for future intentions and it is typically divided into time-based and event-based PM. Deficit of PM has been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) but no study has yet explored the association between motor subtypes (tremor dominant and rigidity/bradykinesia dominant) and performance on PM tasks. The aim of the study was to explore the role of motor subtypes in the defect of PM.

  • Coordinate Modulation of Glycolytic Enzymes and OXPHOS by Imatinib in BCR-ABL Driven Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Cells.

    Publication Date: 27/06/2019, on International journal of molecular sciences
    by De Rosa V, Monti M, Terlizzi C, Fonti R, Del Vecchio S, Iommelli F
    DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133134

    Since many oncogenes, including , may promote the acquisition and maintenance of the glycolytic phenotype, we tested whether treatment of BCR-ABL-driven human leukemia cells with imatinib, a selective BCR-ABL inhibitor, can modulate the expression of key glycolytic enzymes and mitochondrial complex subunits thus causing alterations of glucose metabolism. BCR-ABL-driven K562 and KCL-22 cells were incubated with increasing concentrations of imatinib to preliminarily test drug sensitivity. Then untreated and treated cells were analyzed for levels of BCR-ABL signaling mediators and key proteins of glycolytic cascade and oxidative phosphorylation. Effective inhibition of BCR-ABL caused a concomitant reduction of p-ERK1/2, p-AKT, phosphorylated form of STAT3 (at Tyr705 and Ser727), c-Myc and cyclin D1 along with an increase of cleaved PARP and caspase 3 at 48 h after treatment. Furthermore, a strong reduction of the hexokinase II (HKII), phosphorylated form of PKM2 (at Tyr105 and Ser37) and lactate dehydrogenase A (LDH-A) was observed in response to imatinib along with a strong upregulation of mitochondrial complexes (OXPHOS). According to these findings, a significant reduction of glucose consumption and lactate secretion along with an increase of intracellular ATP levels was observed in response to imatinib. Our findings indicate that imatinib treatment of BCR-ABL-driven human leukemia cells reactivates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation thus allowing potential co-targeting of BCR-ABL and OXPHOS.

  • HUVEC Tube-formation Assay to Evaluate the Impact of Natural Products on Angiogenesis.

    Publication Date: 24/06/2019, on Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
    by Gentile MT, Pastorino O, Bifulco M, Colucci-D'Amato L
    DOI: 10.3791/58591

    Angiogenesis is a phenomenon that includes different processes, such as endothelial cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration, that lead to the formation of new blood vessels and involve several signal transduction pathways. Here we show that the tube formation assay is a simple in vitro method to evaluate the impact of natural products on angiogenesis and to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved. In particular, in the presence of the water extract of Ruta graveolens (RGWE), endothelial cells are no longer able to form a cell-cell network and that the RGWE effects on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) tube formation is abolished by the constitutive activation of MEK.

  • Proteomics and metabolomics studies exploring the pathophysiology of renal dysfunction in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and other ciliopathies.

    Publication Date: 20/06/2019, on Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association
    by Zacchia M, Marchese E, Trani EM, Caterino M, Capolongo G, Perna A, Ruoppolo M, Capasso G
    DOI: 10.1093/ndt/gfz121

    The primary cilium (PC) was considered as a vestigial organelle with no significant physiological importance, until the discovery that PC perturbation disturbs several signalling pathways and results in the dysfunction of a variety of organs. Genetic studies have demonstrated that mutations affecting PC proteins or its anchoring structure, the basal body, underlie a class of human disorders (known as ciliopathies) characterized by a constellation of clinical signs. Further investigations have demonstrated that the PC is involved in a broad range of biological processes, in both developing and mature tissues. Kidney disease is a common clinical feature of cilia disorders, supporting the hypothesis of a crucial role of the PC in kidney homoeostasis. Clinical proteomics and metabolomics are an expanding research area. Interestingly, the application of these methodologies to the analysis of urine, a biological sample that can be collected in a non-invasive fashion and possibly in large amounts, makes these studies feasible also in patients. The present article describes the most recent proteomic and metabolomic studies exploring kidney dysfunction in the setting of ciliopathies, showing the potential of these methodologies in the elucidation of disease pathophysiology and in the discovery of biomarkers.

  • Short communication: Space allocation in intensive Mediterranean buffalo production influences the profile of functional biomolecules in milk and dairy products.

    Publication Date: 19/06/2019, on Journal of dairy science
    by Salzano A, Licitra F, D'Onofrio N, Balestrieri ML, Limone A, Campanile G, D'Occhio MJ, Neglia G
    DOI: 10.3168/jds.2019-16656

    The aim of the present study was to determine if space allocation influenced the concentration of biomolecules in buffalo milk and dairy products. Intensively housed buffaloes (n = 96) were randomly assigned to 2 groups according to days in milk, parity, and milk yield: group S10 had a space allocation of 10 m per buffalo and group S15 had a space allocation of 15 m per buffalo. Individual milk yield was recorded daily. Twice a month, a bulk milk sample was collected for each group, as well as whey, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese, to assess cheese yield and to conduct HPLC-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry, milk antioxidant activity, and cell viability analyses. We tested milk extracts from the 2 groups in vitro to evaluate their efficacy in counteracting endothelial oxidative damage induced by high glucose. We evaluated reproductive function in 28 buffaloes from each group using the Ovsynch-timed artificial insemination program. We observed no differences in milk quantity or quality in terms of fat, protein, or lactose, and reproductive function did not differ between the 2 groups. Compared with group S10, group S15 had higher concentrations of carnitine (56.7 ± 1.1 vs. 39.8 ± 0.7 mg/L in milk and 40.9 ± 0.8 vs. 31.7 ± 0.7 mg/L in whey), acetyl-l-carnitine (51.9 ± 0.3 vs. 39.7 ± 0.7 mg/L in milk and 41.1 ± 1.7 vs. 28.7 ± 2.6 mg/L in whey), propionyl-l-carnitine (34.8 ± 1.0 vs. 21.0 ± 0.9 mg/L in milk and 26.9 ± 0.8 vs. 17.6 ± 1.2 mg/L in whey), glycine betaine (23.1 ± 1.9 vs. 13.5 ± 1.6 mg/L in milk and 10.7 ± 0.4 vs. 7.9 ± 0.5 mg/L in whey), and δ-valerobetaine (24.2 ± 0.5 vs. 16.7 ± 0.5 mg/L in milk and 22.0 ± 0.9 vs. 15.5 ± 0.7 mg/L in whey). Group S15 also had higher total antioxidant activity than group S10 (56.7 ± 1.9 vs. 46.4 ± 1.13 mM Trolox equivalents). Co-incubation of high-glucose-treated endothelial cells with milk extracts from group S15 improved cell viability compared with cells treated with high glucose only; it also reduced intracellular lipid peroxidation (144.3 ± 0.4 vs. 177.5 ± 1.9%), reactive oxygen species (141.3 ± 0.9 vs. 189.3 ± 4.7 optical density units), and cytokine release (tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β, IL-6). Greater space allocation was associated with higher levels of biomolecules in buffalo milk. This could have been the result of improved welfare in buffaloes that were allocated more space.

  • Outcomes after fingolimod to alemtuzumab treatment shift in relapsing-remitting MS patients: a multicentre cohort study.

    Publication Date: 17/06/2019, on Journal of neurology
    by Frau J, Saccà F, Signori A, Baroncini D, Fenu G, Annovazzi P, Capobianco M, Signoriello E, Laroni A, La Gioia S, Sartori A, Maniscalco GT, Bonavita S, Clerico M, Russo CV, Gallo A, Lapucci C, Carotenuto A, Sormani MP, Cocco E,
    DOI: 10.1007/s00415-019-09424-8

    A high reactivation of multiple sclerosis (MS) was reported in patients treated with alemtuzumab after fingolimod. We aimed to understand whether this shift enhanced the risk for reactivation in a real-life cohort.