Latest PUBLICATIONS

  • Cognitive and behavioral disorders in Parkinson's disease: an update. II: behavioral disorders.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2018, on Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology
    by Trojano L, Papagno C
    DOI: 10.1007/s10072-017-3155-7

    Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) can experience several behavioral symptoms, such as apathy, agitation, hypersexuality, stereotypic movements, pathological gambling, abuse of antiparkinsonian drugs, and REM sleep behavioral disorders. Psychoses and hallucinations, depression and anxiety disorders, and difficulties in recognizing and experiencing emotions also impair behavior and can cause severe psychosocial problems in patients with PD. Symptoms can be present since early stages of the disease, sometimes even before the appearance of classical motor symptoms, likely in relation to dopamine depletion in basal ganglia and/or to dysfunctions of other neurotrasmitter systems, and others can develop later, in some cases in relation to dopaminergic treatment. In this paper, we review recent literature, with particular attention to the last 5 years, on the main behavioral and emotional disturbances described in PD patients as well as the hypothesized neurofunctional substrate of such impairments. Finally, we provide some suggestions on the most suitable instruments to check and assess PD-associated behavioral defects over time.

  • Milk from cows fed a diet with a high forage:concentrate ratio improves inflammatory state, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function in rats.

    Publication Date: 28/12/2017, on Journal of dairy science
    by Cavaliere G, Trinchese G, Musco N, Infascelli F, De Filippo C, Mastellone V, Morittu VM, Lombardi P, Tudisco R, Grossi M, Monda V, Cutrignelli MI, Messina A, Calabrò S, Moni HB, Stradella L, Messina G, Monda M, Crispino M, Mollica MP
    DOI: 10.3168/jds.2017-13550

    Excessive energy intake may evoke complex biochemical processes characterized by inflammation, oxidative stress, and impairment of mitochondrial function that represent the main factors underlying noncommunicable diseases. Because cow milk is widely used for human nutrition and in food industry processing, the nutritional quality of milk is of special interest with respect to human health. In our study, we analyzed milk produced by dairy cows fed a diet characterized by a high forage:concentrate ratio (high forage milk, HFM). In view of the low n-6:n-3 ratio and high content of conjugated linoleic acid of HFM, we studied the effects of this milk on lipid metabolism, inflammation, mitochondrial function, and oxidative stress in a rat model. To this end, we supplemented for 4 wk the diet of male Wistar rats with HFM and with an isocaloric amount (82 kJ, 22 mL/d) of milk obtained from cows fed a diet with low forage:concentrate ratio, and analyzed the metabolic parameters of the animals. Our results indicate that HFM may positively affect lipid metabolism, leptin:adiponectin ratio, inflammation, mitochondrial function, and oxidative stress, providing the first evidence of the beneficial effects of HFM on rat metabolism.

  • pH driven fibrillar aggregation of the super-sweet protein Y65R-MNEI: A step-by-step structural analysis.

    Publication Date: 27/12/2017, on Biochimica et biophysica acta
    by Pica A, Leone S, Di Girolamo R, Donnarumma F, Emendato A, Rega MF, Merlino A, Picone D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.12.012

    MNEI and its variant Y65R-MNEI are sweet proteins with potential applications as sweeteners in food industry. Also, they are often used as model systems for folding and aggregation studies.

  • Targeting and silencing of rhodopsin by ectopic expression of the transcription factor KLF15.

    Publication Date: 21/12/2017, on JCI insight
    by Botta S, de Prisco N, Marrocco E, Renda M, Sofia M, Curion F, Bacci ML, Ventrella D, Wilson C, Gesualdo C, Rossi S, Simonelli F, Surace EM
    DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.96560

    The genome-wide activity of transcription factors (TFs) on multiple regulatory elements precludes their use as gene-specific regulators. Here we show that ectopic expression of a TF in a cell-specific context can be used to silence the expression of a specific gene as a therapeutic approach to regulate gene expression in human disease. We selected the TF Krüppel-like factor 15 (KLF15) based on its putative ability to recognize a specific DNA sequence motif present in the rhodopsin (RHO) promoter and its lack of expression in terminally differentiated rod photoreceptors (the RHO-expressing cells). Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector-mediated ectopic expression of KLF15 in rod photoreceptors of pigs enables Rho silencing with limited genome-wide transcriptional perturbations. Suppression of a RHO mutant allele by KLF15 corrects the phenotype of a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa with no observed toxicity. Cell-specific-context conditioning of TF activity may prove a novel mode for somatic gene-targeted manipulation.

  • Fluorescence Sensing Using DNA Aptamers in Cancer Research and Clinical Diagnostics.

    Publication Date: 20/12/2017, on Cancers
    by Musumeci D, Platella C, Riccardi C, Moccia F, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.3390/cancers9120174

    Among the various advantages of aptamers over antibodies, remarkable is their ability to tolerate a large number of chemical modifications within their backbone or at the termini without losing significant activity. Indeed, aptamers can be easily equipped with a wide variety of reporter groups or coupled to different carriers, nanoparticles, or other biomolecules, thus producing valuable molecular recognition tools effective for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. This review reports an updated overview on fluorescent DNA aptamers, designed to recognize significant cancer biomarkers both in soluble or membrane-bound form. In many examples, the aptamer secondary structure switches induced by target recognition are suitably translated in a detectable fluorescent signal using either fluorescently-labelled or label-free aptamers. The fluorescence emission changes, producing an enhancement ("signal-on") or a quenching ("signal-off") effect, directly reflect the extent of the binding, thereby allowing for quantitative determination of the target in bioanalytical assays. Furthermore, several aptamers conjugated to fluorescent probes proved to be effective for applications in tumour diagnosis and intraoperative surgery, producing tumour-type specific, non-invasive in vivo imaging tools for cancer pre- and post-treatment assessment.

  • Identification and chemical characterization of N acyl-homoserine lactone quorum sensing signals across sponge species and time.

    Publication Date: 18/12/2017, on FEMS microbiology ecology
    by Britstein M, Saurav K, Teta R, Sala GD, Bar-Shalom R, Stoppelli N, Zoccarato L, Costantino V, Steindler L
    DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fix182

    Marine sponges form symbiotic relationships with complex microbial communities, yet little is known about the mechanisms by which these microbes regulate their behavior through gene expression. Many bacterial communities regulate gene expression using chemical signaling termed quorum sensing. While a few previous studies have shown presence of N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) based quorum sensing in marine sponges, the chemical identity of AHL signals has been published for only two sponge species. In this study we screened for AHLs in extracts from 15 sponge species (109 specimens in total) from the Mediterranean and Red Sea, using a wide-range AHL-biosensor. This is the first time that AHL presence was examined over time in sponges. We detected the presence of AHL in 46% of the sponge species, and found that AHL signals differ for certain sponge species in time and across sponge individuals. Furthermore, for the Mediterranean sponge species Sarcotragus fasciculatus, we identified 14 different AHLs. The constant presence of specific AHLs molecules in all specimens, together with varying signaling molecules between the different specimens, make S. fasciculatus a good model to further investigate the function of quorum sensing in sponge-associated bacteria. This study extends the knowledge of AHL-based quorum sensing in marine sponges.

  • Vacuolated PAS-positive lymphocytes as an hallmark of Pompe disease and other myopathies related to impaired autophagy.

    Publication Date: 07/12/2017, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Pascarella A, Terracciano C, Farina O, Lombardi L, Esposito T, Napolitano F, Franzese G, Panella G, Tuccillo F, la Marca G, Bernardini S, Boffo S, Giordano A, Melone MAB, Di Iorio G, Sampaolo S
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.26365

    Autosomal recessive Pompe disease is a lysosomal disorder caused by mutations of the acid-α-glucosidase (GAA) gene. Deficiency of GAA enzyme leads to glycogen accumulation and autophagy impairment in cardiac and skeletal muscles, but also in lymphocytes. Since an effective therapy is available, a rapid, sensitive and specific test is crucial to early identify affected subjects. Number of lymphocytes containing PAS-positive vacuoles was evaluated on blood films from 72 consecutive adult patients with hyperckemia and/or muscle weakness, 13 genetically confirmed late-onset-Pompe-disease (LOPD) and 13 of their offspring. GAA activity, measured on dried blood spot (DBS) in all patients inversely correlated with number of PAS-positive lymphocytes. More than 4 PAS-positive lymphocytes were found in 11 out of the 72 patients (6 new diagnosis of LOPD, 3 different glycogen storage myopathies, 1 glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, 1 caveolinopathy), in all 13 LOPD patients and in the 13 LOPD offspring. These latter resulted to have all a single GAA mutation but low GAA levels. Immunostaining with the autophagy markers LC3 and p62 confirmed the autophagic nature of lymphocytes vacuoles. ROC curve assessment of PAS-positive lymphocytes disclosed 100% of sensitivity and 94% of specificity in recognizing both compound heterozygous and heterozygous GAA carriers. The other myopathies with more than 4 PAS-positive lymphocytes appeared to be all related to impaired autophagy, which seems to be responsible of PAS-positive vacuolated lymphocytes formation. Quantification of PAS-positive lymphocytes in blood films is useful to identify autophagic vacuolar myopathies and should be routinely used as first level test for Pompe disease. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

  • Management of QT prolongation induced by anti-cancer drugs: Target therapy and old agents. Different algorithms for different drugs.

    Publication Date: 06/12/2017, on Cancer treatment reviews
    by Coppola C, Rienzo A, Piscopo G, Barbieri A, Arra C, Maurea N
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2017.11.009

    The side effects of anticancer drugs still play a critical role in survival and quality of life. Although the recent progresses of cancer therapies have significantly improved the prognosis of oncologic patients, side effects of antineoplastic treatments are still responsible for the increased mortality of cancer survivors. Cardiovascular toxicity is the most dangerous adverse effect induced by anticancer therapies. A survey conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination, showed that 1807 cancer survivors followed up for seven years: 51% died of cancer and 33% of heart disease (Vejpongsa and Yeh, 2014). Moreover, the risk of cardiotoxicity persists even with the targeted therapy, the newer type of cancer treatment, due to the presence of on-target and off-target effects related to this new class of drugs. The potential cardiovascular toxicity of anticancer agents includes: QT prolongation, arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia, stroke, hypertension (HTN), thromboembolism, left ventricular dysfunction and heart failure (HF). Compared to other cardiovascular disorders, the interest in QT prolongation and its complications is fairly recent. However, oncologists have to deal with it and to evaluate the risk-benefit ratio before starting the treatment or during the same. Electrolyte abnormalities, low levels of serum potassium and several drugs may favour the acquired QT prolongation. Treatment of marked QT prolongation includes cardiac monitoring, caution in the use or suspension of cancer drugs and correction of electrolyte abnormalities (hypokalaemia, hypomagnesaemia, hypocalcaemia). Syndrome of QT prolongation can be associated with potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias and its treatment consists of intravenous administration of magnesium sulphate and the use of electrical cardioversion.

  • Triple Vectors Expand AAV Transfer Capacity in the Retina.

    Publication Date: 05/12/2017, on Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy
    by Maddalena A, Tornabene P, Tiberi P, Minopoli R, Manfredi A, Mutarelli M, Rossi S, Simonelli F, Naggert JK, Cacchiarelli D, Auricchio A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.11.019

    Retinal gene transfer with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors holds great promise for the treatment of inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs). One limit of AAV is its transfer capacity of about 5 kb, which can be expanded to about 9 kb, using dual AAV vectors. This strategy would still not suffice for treatment of IRDs such as Usher syndrome type 1D or Alström syndrome type I (ALMS) due to mutations in CDH23 or ALMS1, respectively. To overcome this limitation, we generated triple AAV vectors, with a maximal transfer capacity of about 14 kb. Transcriptomic analysis following triple AAV transduction showed the expected full-length products along a number of aberrant transcripts. However, only the full-length transcripts are efficiently translated in vivo. We additionally showed that approximately 4% of mouse photoreceptors are transduced by triple AAV vectors and showed correct localization of recombinant ALMS1. The low-photoreceptor transduction levels might justify the modest and transient improvement we observe in the retina of a mouse model of ALMS. However, the levels of transduction mediated by triple AAV vectors in pig retina reached 40% of those observed with single vectors, and this bodes well for further improving the efficiency of triple AAV vectors in the retina.

  • The Closing-In Phenomenon in an Ecological Walking Task.

    Publication Date: 04/12/2017, on Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS
    by De Lucia N, Grossi D, Milan G, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.1017/S1355617717001229

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients may show the Closing-in (CI), a tendency to reproduce figures close to or superimposed on the model. AD patients with CI might manifest reduced functional independence compared to AD patients without CI, but no study directly assessed if CI can hamper common daily living activities. To address this issue here we investigated whether AD patients with CI veer their walking trajectory toward irrelevant objects more often than AD patients without CI.

  • Editorial: Novel Mechanism of Radioactive Iodine Refractivity in Thyroid Cancer.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2017, on Journal of the National Cancer Institute
    by Paladino S, Melillo RM
    DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djx106

  • Diagnostic contribution of magnetic resonance imaging in an atypical presentation of motor neuron disease.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2017, on Quantitative imaging in medicine and surgery
    by Ugga L, Coppola C, Cocozza S, Saracino D, Caranci F, Tuccillo F, Signoriello E, Casertano S, Di Iorio G, Tedeschi E
    DOI: 10.21037/qims.2017.10.06

    Motor neuron disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease determining progressive and relentless motor deterioration involving both upper and lower motor neurons (UMN and LMN); several variants at onset are described. Here we describe a case of MND presenting as pure spastic monoparesis in which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) gave a substantial contribution in confirming the diagnosis and assessing the severity of UMN involvement. An isolated pyramidal syndrome, with complete absence of LMN signs, is a rare phenotype in the context of MND (less than 4% of total cases), especially if restricted to only one limb. Several other elements made this case an unusual presentation of MND: the late age of onset (8th decade), the subacute evolution of symptoms (raising the suspicion of an ischemic or inflammatory, rather than degenerative, etiology), the patient's past medical history (achalasia, erythema nodosum), the increase of inflammatory indices. Conventional MRI showed no focal lesions that could explain the clinical features; therefore, we used advanced MR sequences. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) evaluation evidenced bilateral impairment of corticospinal tract (CST) diffusion metrics, with clear right-left asymmetry, pointing to a neurodegenerative etiology, which clinically appeared less likely at that time. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) showed a significant reduction of NAA/Cho + Cr ratio in the motor cortex (MC), further supporting the hypothesis of UMN degeneration. In conclusion, in this particular case of MND, whose nosographic framing has not been fully defined, advanced MRI techniques with DTI and MRS proved to be of great usefulness in confirming a diffuse UMN involvement, possibly at a more advanced stage than its clinical expression.

  • GPI-anchored proteins are confined in subdiffraction clusters at the apical surface of polarized epithelial cells.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2017, on The Biochemical journal
    by Paladino S, Lebreton S, Lelek M, Riccio P, De Nicola S, Zimmer C, Zurzolo C
    DOI: 10.1042/BCJ20170582

    Spatio-temporal compartmentalization of membrane proteins is critical for the regulation of diverse vital functions in eukaryotic cells. It was previously shown that, at the apical surface of polarized MDCK cells, glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins (GPI-APs) are organized in small cholesterol-independent clusters of single GPI-AP species (homoclusters), which are required for the formation of larger cholesterol-dependent clusters formed by multiple GPI-AP species (heteroclusters). This clustered organization is crucial for the biological activities of GPI-APs; hence, understanding the spatio-temporal properties of their membrane organization is of fundamental importance. Here, by using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy coupled to pair correlation analysis (pc-STORM), we were able to visualize and measure the size of these clusters. Specifically, we show that they are non-randomly distributed and have an average size of 67 nm. We also demonstrated that polarized MDCK and non-polarized CHO cells have similar cluster distribution and size, but different sensitivity to cholesterol depletion. Finally, we derived a model that allowed a quantitative characterization of the cluster organization of GPI-APs at the apical surface of polarized MDCK cells for the first time. Experimental FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer)/FLIM (fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy) data were correlated to the theoretical predictions of the model.

  • Motor, behavioural, and cognitive correlates of fatigue in early, de novo Parkinson disease patients.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2017, on Parkinsonism & related disorders
    by Siciliano M, Trojano L, De Micco R, De Mase A, Garramone F, Russo A, Tedeschi G, Tessitore A
    DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2017.10.004

    Fatigue is one of the most common and disabling non-motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD). The objective of this study was to determine prevalence and motor, behavioural, and cognitive correlates of distressing fatigue in early, de novo PD patients.

  • Assessing association of comorbidities with treatment choice and persistence in MS: A real-life multicenter study.

    Publication Date: 28/11/2017, on Neurology
    by Laroni A, Signori A, Maniscalco GT, Lanzillo R, Russo CV, Binello E, Lo Fermo S, Repice A, Annovazzi P, Bonavita S, Clerico M, Baroncini D, Prosperini L, La Gioia S, Rossi S, Cocco E, Frau J, Torri Clerici V, Signoriello E, Sartori A, Zarbo IR, Rasia S, Cordioli C, Cerqua R, Di Sapio A, Lavorgna L, Pontecorvo S, Barrilà C, Saccà F, Frigeni B, Esposito S, Ippolito D, Gallo F, Sormani MP,
    DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004686

    To assess whether the presence of concomitant diseases at multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is associated with the choice and the treatment persistence in an Italian MS cohort.