Latest PUBLICATIONS

  • Novel VCP mutations expand the mutational spectrum of frontotemporal dementia.

    Publication Date: 30/06/2018, on Neurobiology of aging
    by Saracino D, Clot F, Camuzat A, Anquetil V, Hannequin D, Guyant-Maréchal L, Didic M, Guillot-Noël L, Rinaldi D, Latouche M, Forlani S, Ghassab Y, Coppola C, Di Iorio G, David I, , Le Guern E, Brice A, Le Ber I
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.06.037

    Valosin-containing protein (VCP) mutations are rare causes of autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementias associated with Paget's disease of bone, inclusion body myopathy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We analyzed the VCP gene in a cohort of 199 patients with frontotemporal dementia and identified 7 heterozygous mutations in unrelated families, including 3 novel mutations segregating with dementia. This expands the VCP mutation spectrum and suggests that although VCP mutations are rare (3.5% in this study), the gene should be analyzed even in absence of the full syndromic complex. Reporting genetic variants with convincing arguments for pathogenicity is important considering the large amount of data generated by next-generation sequencing and the growing difficulties to interpret rare genetic variants identified in isolated cases.

  • Glycation affects fibril formation of Aβ peptides.

    Publication Date: 29/06/2018, on The Journal of biological chemistry
    by Emendato A, Milordini G, Zacco E, Sicorello A, Dal Piaz F, Guerrini R, Thorogate R, Picone D, Pastore A
    DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.002275

    Increasing evidence shows that Aβ peptides, which are associated with Alzheimer disease (AD), are heavily glycated in patients, suggesting a role of this irreversible non-enzymatic post-translational modification in pathology. Previous reports have shown that glycation increases the toxicity of the Aβ peptides although little is known about the mechanism. Here, we used the natural metabolic byproduct methylglyoxal as a glycating agent and exploited various spectroscopic methods and atomic force microscopy to study how glycation affects the structures of the Aβ40 and Aβ42 peptides, the aggregation pathway, and the morphologies of the resulting aggregates. We found that glycation significantly slows down but does not prevent β-conversion to mature fibres. We propose that the previously reported higher toxicity of the glycated Aβ peptides could be explained by a longer persistence in an oligomeric form, usually believed to be the toxic species.

  • Targeting Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Mucopolysaccharidoses.

    Publication Date: 18/06/2018, on Molecular therapy. Methods & clinical development
    by De Pasquale V, Sarogni P, Pistorio V, Cerulo G, Paladino S, Pavone LM
    DOI: 10.1016/j.omtm.2018.05.002

    Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPSs) are inherited metabolic diseases caused by the deficiency of lysosomal enzymes needed to catabolize glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Four therapeutic options are currently considered: enzyme replacement therapy, substrate reduction therapy, gene therapy, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. However, while some of them exhibit limited clinical efficacy and require high costs, others are still in development. Therefore, alternative treatments for MPSs need to be explored. Here we describe an innovative therapeutic approach based on the use of a recombinant protein that is able to bind the excess of extracellular accumulated heparan sulfate (HS). We demonstrate that this protein is able to reduce lysosomal defects in primary fibroblasts from MPS I and MPS IIIB patients. We also show that, by masking the excess of extracellular accumulated HS in MPS fibroblasts, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signal transduction can be positively modulated. We, therefore, suggest the use of a competitive binding molecule for HS in MPSs as an alternative strategy to prevent the detrimental extracellular substrate storage.

  • Mesenchymal stromal cells from amniotic fluid are less prone to senescence compared to those obtained from bone marrow: An in vitro study.

    Publication Date: 15/06/2018, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Alessio N, Pipino C, Mandatori D, Di Tomo P, Ferone A, Marchiso M, Melone MAB, Peluso G, Pandolfi A, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.26845

    Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are considered to be an excellent source in regenerative medicine. They contain several cell subtypes, including multipotent stem cells. MSCs are of particular interest as they are currently being tested using cell and gene therapies for a number of human diseases. They represent a rare population in tissues; for this reason, they require, before being transplanted, an in vitro amplification. This process may induce replicative senescence, thus affecting differentiation and proliferative capacities. Increasing evidence suggests that MSCs from fetal tissues are significantly more plastic and grow faster than MSCs from bone marrow. Here, we compare amniotic fluid mesenchymal stromal cells (AF-MSCs) and bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) in terms of cell proliferation, surface markers, multidifferentiation potential, senescence, and DNA repair capacity. Our study shows that AF-MSCs are less prone to senescence with respect to BM-MSCs. Moreover, both cell models activate the same repair system after DNA damage, but AF-MSCs are able to return to the basal condition more efficiently with respect to BM-MSCs. Indeed, AF-MSCs are better able to cope with genotoxic stress that may occur either during in vitro cultivation or following transplantation in patients. Our findings suggest that AF-MSCs may represent a valid alternative to BM-MSCs in regenerative medicine, and, of great relevance, the investigation of the mechanisms involved in DNA repair capacity of both AF-MSCs and BM-MSCs may pave the way to their rational use in the medical field.

  • Smenamide A Analogues. Synthesis and Biological Activity on Multiple Myeloma Cells.

    Publication Date: 13/06/2018, on Marine drugs
    by Caso A, Laurenzana I, Lamorte D, Trino S, Esposito G, Piccialli V, Costantino V
    DOI: 10.3390/md16060206

    Smenamides are an intriguing class of peptide/polyketide molecules of marine origin showing antiproliferative activity against lung cancer Calu-1 cells at nanomolar concentrations through a clear pro-apoptotic mechanism. To probe the role of the activity-determining structural features, the 16--analogue of smenamide A and eight simplified analogues in the 16- series were prepared using a flexible synthetic route. The synthetic analogues were tested on multiple myeloma (MM) cell lines showing that the configuration at C-16 slightly affects the activity, since the 16--derivative is still active at nanomolar concentrations. Interestingly, it was found that the truncated compound , mainly composed of the pyrrolinone terminus, was not active, while compound , essentially lacking the pyrrolinone moiety, was 1000-fold less active than the intact substance and was the most active among all the synthesized compounds.

  • Clinical activity after fingolimod cessation: disease reactivation or rebound?

    Publication Date: 31/05/2018, on European journal of neurology
    by Frau J, Sormani MP, Signori A, Realmuto S, Baroncini D, Annovazzi P, Signoriello E, Maniscalco G, La Gioia S, Cordioli C, Frigeni B, Rasia S, Fenu G, Grasso R, Sartori A, Lanzillo R, Stromillo ML, Rossi S, Forci B, Cocco E,
    DOI: 10.1111/ene.13694

    There is debate as to whether the apparent rebound after fingolimod discontinuation is related to the discontinuation itself, or if it is due to the natural course of highly active multiple sclerosis (MS). We aimed to survey the prevalence of severe reactivation and rebound after discontinuation of fingolimod in a cohort of Italian patients with MS.

  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the proautophagic activity of Citrus flavonoids from Bergamot Polyphenol Fraction.

    Publication Date: 31/05/2018, on Data in brief
    by Janda E, Salerno R, Martino C, Lascala A, La Russa D, Oliverio M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.dib.2018.05.139

    Bergamot Polyphenol Fraction (BPF®) is a natural mixture of flavonoids extracted from processed bergamot fruits. It has been shown to counteract cardiovascular risk factors and to prevent liver steatosis in rats and patients. Hepatic effects of BPF correlate with its ability to stimulate liver autophagy. Six aglyconic flavonoids have been identified in the proautophagic fraction of the hydrolysis product of BPF (A-BPF): naringenin, hesperetin, eridictyol, diosmetin, apigenin and luteolin. We report here the output parameters of high resolution mass spectrometry analysis of these flavonoids and chemical structures of their parent compounds. The second set of data shows the proautophagic activity of BPF flavonoids in a hepatic cell line HepG2 analyzed by a flow cytometry approach. The method is based on the red to green fluorescence intensity ratio analysis of DsRed -LC3- GFP, which is stably expressed in HepG2 cells. Proportional analysis of ATG indexes allowed us to address a relative contribution of individual compounds to the proautophagic activity of the A-BPF mixture and evaluate if the effect was additive. Qualitative analysis of ATG indexes compared the effects of flavonoids at equal concentrations in the presence and absence of palmitic acid and chloroquine. The Excel files reporting the analysis of flow cytometry data are available in the public repository.

  • Cognitive performance in multiple sclerosis: the contribution of intellectual enrichment and brain MRI measures.

    Publication Date: 26/05/2018, on Journal of neurology
    by Santangelo G, Bisecco A, Trojano L, Sacco R, Siciliano M, d'Ambrosio A, Della Corte M, Lavorgna L, Bonavita S, Tedeschi G, Gallo A
    DOI: 10.1007/s00415-018-8905-9

    Cognitive reserve (CR) is a construct that originates from the observation of poor correspondence between brain damage and clinical symptoms. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between cognitive reserve (CR), brain reserve (BR) and cognitive functions and to evaluate whether CR might attenuate/moderate the negative impact of brain atrophy and lesion load on cognitive functions in multiple sclerosis (MS). To achieve these aims, ninety-eight relapsing-remitting MS patients underwent the brief repeatable battery of neuropsychological tests and Stroop test (ST). CR was assessed by vocabulary-based estimate of lifetime intellectual enrichment. All patients underwent a 3T MRI to assess T2-lesion load and atrophy measures, including normalized gray matter and white matter (nWMV) volumes. The BR was evaluated by maximal lifetime brain volume expressed by intracranial volume (ICV). Hierarchical regressions were used to investigate whether higher BR and/or CR is related to better cognitive performances after controlling for potentially confounding factors. The ICV was not associated with any cognitive tests. Intellectual enrichment was positively associated with performance on tests assessing memory, attention and information processing speed, verbal fluency and inhibitory control. Significant relationship between nWMV and ST was moderated by intellectual enrichment. In conclusion, the findings suggested that CR seems to mitigate cognitive dysfunction in MS patients and can reduce the negative impact of brain atrophy on inhibitory control, relevant for integrity of instrumental activities of daily living.

  • Do medical complications impact long-term outcomes in prolonged disorders of consciousness?

    Publication Date: 25/05/2018, on Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
    by Estraneo A, Loreto V, Masotta Psy O, Pascarella A, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2018.04.024

    to investigate medical complications (MC) occuring within 6 months post-injury in brain-injured patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness (DoC) and to evaluate impact of MC on mortality and long-term clinical outcomes.

  • Autophagy-Associated Shrinkage of the Hepatopancreas in Fasting Male <i>Macrobrachium rosenbergii</i> Is Rescued by Neuropeptide F.

    Publication Date: 24/05/2018, on Frontiers in physiology
    by Thongrod S, Wanichanon C, Kankuan W, Siangcham T, Phadngam S, Morani F, Isidoro C, Sobhon P
    DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00613

    Invertebrate neuropeptide F-I (NPF-I), much alike its mammalian homolog neuropeptide Y, influences several physiological processes, including circadian rhythms, cortical excitability, stress response, and food intake behavior. Given the role of autophagy in the metabolic stress response, we investigated the effect of NPF-1 on autophagy during fasting and feeding conditions in the hepatopancreas and muscle tissues of the male giant freshwater prawn . Starvation up-regulated the expression of the autophagy marker LC3 in both tissues. Yet, based on the relative levels of the autophagosome-associated LC3-II isoform and of its precursor LC3-I, the hepatopancreas was more responsive than the muscle to starvation-induced autophagy. Injection of NPF-I inhibited the autophagosome formation in the hepatopancreas of fasting prawns. Relative to the body weight, the muscle weight was not affected, while that of the hepatopancreas decreased upon starvation and NPF-1 treatment could largely prevent such weight loss. Thus, the hepatopancreas is the reserve organ for the nutrient homeostasis during starvation and NPF-I plays a crucial role in the balancing of energy expenditure and energy intake during starvation by modulating autophagy.

  • Nano-delivery systems for encapsulation of dietary polyphenols: an experimental approach for neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors.

    Publication Date: 24/05/2018, on Biochemical pharmacology
    by Squillaro T, Cimini A, Peluso G, Giordano A, Melone M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2018.05.016

    Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) and brain tumors are severe, disabling, and incurable disorders that represent a critical problem regarding human suffering and the economic burden on the healthcare system. Because of the lack of effective therapies to treat NDs and brain tumors, the challenge for physicians is to discover new drugs to improve their patients' quality of life. In addition to risk factors such as genetics and environmental influences, increased cellular oxidative stress has been reported as one of the potential common etiologies in both disorders. Given their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential, dietary polyphenols are considered to be one of the most bioactive natural agents in chronic disease prevention and treatment. Despite the protective activity of polyphenols, their inefficient delivery systems and poor bioavailability strongly limit their use in medicine and functional food. A potential solution lies in polymeric nanoparticle-based polyphenol delivery systems that are able to enhance their absorption across the gastrointestinal tract, improve their bioavailability, and transport them to target organs. In the present manuscript, we provide an overview of the primary polyphenols used for ND and brain tumor prevention and treatment by focusing on recent findings, the principal factors limiting their application in clinical practice, and a promising delivery strategy to improve their bioavailability.

  • Resveratrol interrupts the pro-invasive communication between Cancer Associated Fibroblasts and Cholangiocarcinoma cells.

    Publication Date: 23/05/2018, on Cancer letters
    by Thongchot S, Ferraresi A, Vidoni C, Loilome W, Yongvanit P, Namwat N, Isidoro C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.05.031

    Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), the cancer arising from the epithelial cells of bile ducts, is a prototype of inflammatory-driven cancer. Cytokines released by cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play a pivotal role in CCA progression, driving the epigenetic Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal transition and the growth and metastasization of CCA cells. Consistently, the conditioned medium from CCA-derived CAFs further stimulated the secretion of IL-6, and to a lesser extent of IL-8, by CCA cells. CCA has a poor prognosis, because of late diagnosis and of high resistance to radio- and chemo-therapy of CCA cells. Targeting the CAFs and their secretion could be an alternative option. We found that while IL-6 indeed promoted the cell migration of invasive CCA cells, the nutraceutical Resveratrol strongly counteracted this effect both in CCA cells and in immortalized cholangiocytes. More importantly, here we show that Resveratrol has the potential to abrogate the secretion of IL-6 by CAFs. While the conditioned medium from CAFs strongly induced IL-6 mediated motility of CCA cells, the conditioned medium from CAFs pre-treated with Resveratrol completely halted cancer cell motility and reverted the N-to E-cadherin switch in migrating cells. This effect was associated with stimulation of autophagy in the cancer cells. This is the first demonstration that CAFs secretory products directly affect the regulation of autophagy and consequently the behavior of CCA cells, and that a nutraceutical may revert the malignant phenotype of cancer cells by acting on CAFs metabolism and secretion.

  • High-level production of single chain monellin mutants with enhanced sweetness and stability in tobacco chloroplasts.

    Publication Date: 18/05/2018, on Planta
    by Castiglia D, Leone S, Tamburino R, Sannino L, Fonderico J, Melchiorre C, Carpentieri A, Grillo S, Picone D, Scotti N
    DOI: 10.1007/s00425-018-2920-z

    Plastid-based MNEI protein mutants retain the structure, stability and sweetness of their bacterial counterparts, confirming the attractiveness of the plastid transformation technology for high-yield production of recombinant proteins. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes has dramatically increased the industrial demand for the development and use of alternatives to sugar and traditional sweeteners. Sweet proteins, such as MNEI, a single chain derivative of monellin, are the most promising candidates for industrial applications. In this work, we describe the use of tobacco chloroplasts as a stable plant expression platform to produce three MNEI protein mutants with improved taste profile and stability. All plant-based proteins were correctly expressed in tobacco chloroplasts, purified and subjected to in-depth chemical and sensory analyses. Recombinant MNEI mutants showed a protein yield ranging from 5% to more than 50% of total soluble proteins, which, to date, represents the highest accumulation level of MNEI mutants in plants. Comparative analyses demonstrated the high similarity, in terms of structure, stability and function, of the proteins produced in plant chloroplasts and bacteria. The high yield and the extreme sweetness perceived for the plant-derived proteins prove that plastid transformation technology is a safe, stable and cost-effective production platform for low-calorie sweeteners, with an estimated production of up to 25-30 mg of pure protein/plant.

  • Psychometric properties of the Italian version of the Cognitive Reserve Scale (I-CRS).

    Publication Date: 04/05/2018, on Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology
    by Altieri M, Siciliano M, Pappacena S, Roldán-Tapia MD, Trojano L, Santangelo G
    DOI: 10.1007/s10072-018-3432-0

    The original definition of cognitive reserve (CR) refers to the individual differences in cognitive performance after a brain damage or pathology. Several proxies were proposed to evaluate CR (education, occupational attainment, premorbid IQ, leisure activities). Recently, some scales were developed to measure CR taking into account several cognitively stimulating activities. The aim of this study is to adapt the Cognitive Reserve Scale (I-CRS) for the Italian population and to explore its psychometric properties. I-CRS was administered to 547 healthy participants, ranging from 18 to 89 years old, along with neuropsychological and behavioral scales to evaluate cognitive functioning, depressive symptoms, and apathy. Cronbach's α, corrected item-total correlations, and the inter-item correlation matrix were calculated to evaluate the psychometric properties of the scale. Linear regression analysis was performed to build a correction grid of the I-CRS according to demographic variables. Correlational analyses were performed to explore the relationships between I-CRS and neuropsychological and behavioral scales. We found that age, sex, and education influenced the I-CRS score. Young adults and adults obtained higher I-CRS scores than elderly adults; women and participants with high educational attainment scored higher on I-CRS than men and participants with low education. I-CRS score correlated poorly with cognitive and depression scale scores, but moderately with apathy scale scores. I-CRS showed good psychometric properties and seemed to be a useful tool to assess CR in every adult life stage. Moreover, our findings suggest that apathy rather than depressive symptoms may interfere with the building of CR across the lifespan.

  • Targeted therapy of human glioblastoma via delivery of a toxin through a peptide directed to cell surface nucleolin.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2018, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Dhez AC, Benedetti E, Antonosante A, Panella G, Ranieri B, Florio TM, Cristiano L, Angelucci F, Giansanti F, Di Leandro L, d'Angelo M, Melone M, De Cola A, Federici L, Galzio R, Cascone I, Raineri F, Cimini A, Courty J, Giordano A, Ippoliti R
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.26205

    Targeted anticancer therapies demand discovery of new cellular targets to be exploited for the delivery of toxic molecules and drugs. In this perspective, in the last few years, nucleolin has been identified as an interesting surface marker to be used for the therapy of glioblastoma. In this study, we investigated whether a synthetic antagonist of cell-surface nucleolin known as N6L, previously reported to decrease both tumor growth and tumor angiogenesis in several cancer cell lines, including glioblastoma cells, as well as endothelial cells proliferation, could be exploited to deliver a protein toxin (saporin) to glioblastoma cells. The pseudopeptide N6L cross-linked to saporin-S6 induced internalization of the toxin inside glioblastoma cancer cells. Our results in vitro demonstrated the effectiveness of this conjugate in inducing cell death, with an ID four orders of magnitude lower than that observed for free N6L. Furthermore, the preliminary in vivo study demonstrated efficiency in reducing the tumor mass in an orthotopic mouse model of glioblastoma.