• Meldonium improves Huntington's disease mitochondrial dysfunction by restoring peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α expression.

    Publication Date: 26/10/2018, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Di Cristo F, Finicelli M, Digilio FA, Paladino S, Valentino A, Scialò F, D'Apolito M, Saturnino C, Galderisi U, Giordano A, Melone MAB, Peluso G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.27602

    Mitochondrial dysfunction seems to play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD). We assessed possible neuroprotective actions of meldonium, a small molecule affecting mitochondrial fuel metabolism, in in vitro and in vivo HD models. We found that meldonium was able to prevent cytotoxicity induced by serum deprivation, to reduce the accumulation of mutated huntingtin (mHtt) aggregates, and to upregulate the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) in mHTT-expressing cells. The PGC-1α increase was accompanied by the increment of mitochondrial mass and by the rebalancing of mitochondrial dynamics with a promotion of the mitochondrial fusion. Meldonium-induced PGC-1α significantly alleviated motor dysfunction and prolonged the survival of a transgenic HD Drosophila model in which mHtt expression in the nervous system led to progressive motor performance deficits. Our study strongly suggests that PGC-1α, as a master coregulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, energy homeostasis, and antioxidant defense, is a potential therapeutic target in HD.

  • Oxidative Stress Causes Enhanced Secretion of YB-1 Protein that Restrains Proliferation of Receiving Cells.

    Publication Date: 22/10/2018, on Genes
    by Guarino AM, Troiano A, Pizzo E, Bosso A, Vivo M, Pinto G, Amoresano A, Pollice A, La Mantia G, Calabrò V
    DOI: 10.3390/genes9100513

    The prototype cold-shock Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) is a multifunctional protein that regulates a variety of fundamental biological processes including cell proliferation and migration, DNA damage, matrix protein synthesis and chemotaxis. The plethora of functions assigned to YB-1 is strictly dependent on its subcellular localization. In resting cells, YB-1 localizes to cytoplasm where it is a component of messenger ribonucleoprotein particles. Under stress conditions, YB-1 contributes to the formation of stress granules (SGs), cytoplasmic foci where untranslated messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are sorted or processed for reinitiation, degradation, or packaging into ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs). Following DNA damage, YB-1 translocates to the nucleus and participates in DNA repair thereby enhancing cell survival. Recent data show that YB-1 can also be secreted and YB-1-derived polypeptides are found in plasma of patients with sepsis and malignancies. Here we show that in response to oxidative insults, YB-1 assembly in SGs is associated with an enhancement of YB-1 protein secretion. An enriched fraction of extracellular YB-1 (exYB-1) significantly inhibited proliferation of receiving cells and such inhibition was associated to a G2/M cell cycle arrest, induction of p21WAF and reduction of Np63 protein level. All together, these data show that acute oxidative stress causes sustained release of YB-1 as a paracrine/autocrine signal that stimulate cell cycle arrest.

  • Multimodal Neuroimaging Approach to Variability of Functional Connectivity in Disorders of Consciousness: A PET/MRI Pilot Study.

    Publication Date: 18/10/2018, on Frontiers in neurology
    by Cavaliere C, Kandeepan S, Aiello M, Ribeiro de Paula D, Marchitelli R, Fiorenza S, Orsini M, Trojano L, Masotta O, St Lawrence K, Loreto V, Chronik BA, Nicolai E, Soddu A, Estraneo A
    DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00861

    Behavioral assessments could not suffice to provide accurate diagnostic information in individuals with disorders of consciousness (DoC). Multimodal neuroimaging markers have been developed to support clinical assessments of these patients. Here we present findings obtained by hybrid fludeoxyglucose (FDG-)PET/MR imaging in three severely brain-injured patients, one in an unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS), one in a minimally conscious state (MCS), and one patient emerged from MCS (EMCS). Repeated behavioral assessment by means of Coma Recovery Scale-Revised and neurophysiological evaluation were performed in the two weeks before and after neuroimaging acquisition, to ascertain that clinical diagnosis was stable. The three patients underwent one imaging session, during which two resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) blocks were run with a temporal gap of about 30 min. rs-fMRI data were analyzed with a graph theory approach applied to nine independent networks. We also analyzed the benefits of concatenating the two acquisitions for each patient or to select for each network the graph strength map with a higher ratio of fitness. Finally, as for clinical assessment, we considered the best functional connectivity pattern for each network and correlated graph strength maps to FDG uptake. Functional connectivity analysis showed several differences between the two rs-fMRI acquisitions, affecting in a different way each network and with a different variability for the three patients, as assessed by ratio of fitness. Moreover, combined PET/fMRI analysis demonstrated a higher functional/metabolic correlation for patients in EMCS and MCS compared to UWS. In conclusion, we observed for the first time, through a test-retest approach, a variability in the appearance and temporal/spatial patterns of resting-state networks in severely brain-injured patients, proposing a new method to select the most informative connectivity pattern.

  • Exploring the conformational behaviour and aggregation properties of lipid-conjugated AS1411 aptamers.

    Publication Date: 15/10/2018, on International journal of biological macromolecules
    by Riccardi C, Musumeci D, Russo Krauss I, Piccolo M, Irace C, Paduano L, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.06.137

    AS1411 is a nucleolin-binding aptamer which attracted great interest as active targeting ligand for the selective delivery of therapeutic agents to tumour cells. In this work we selected three AS1411 derivatives 5'-conjugated with lipophilic tails and studied their properties in view of their application in liposomial formulations and/or lipid coated-nanoparticles for targeted therapies. The conformational behaviour of these AS1411 analogs has been investigated in comparison with the unmodified aptamer by CD, UV, PAGE, SEC-HPLC, DLS and thioflavin T (ThT) fluorescence assays to get insight in their secondary structure and aggregation properties. This study has been performed in pseudo-physiological buffers mimicking the extra- and intracellular environments, and at different concentrations in the μM range, paying special attention to the effects of the lipophilic tail on the overall aptamer conformation. The 5'-lipidated AS1411 derivatives proved to fold into stable, parallel unimolecular G-quadruplex structures, forming large aggregates, mainly micelles, at conc. >10 μM. Preliminary bioscreenings on selected cancer cells showed that these derivatives are less cytotoxic than AS1411, but maintain a similar biological behaviour. This study demonstrated that lipophilic tails dramatically favour the formation of AS1411 aggregates, however not impairing the formation and thermal stability of its peculiar G4 motifs.

  • Metabolic syndrome, Mediterranean diet, and polyphenols: Evidence and perspectives.

    Publication Date: 14/10/2018, on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Finicelli M, Squillaro T, Di Cristo F, Di Salle A, Melone MAB, Galderisi U, Peluso G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.27506

    Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is defined as the co-occurrence of metabolic risk factors that includes insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and visceral obesity. The clinical significance of MetS consists of identifying a subgroup of patients sharing a common physiopathological state predisposing to chronic diseases. Clinical and scientific studies pinpoint lifestyle modification as an effective strategy aiming to reduce several features accountable for the risk of MetS onset. Among the healthy dietary patterns, the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) emerges in terms of beneficial properties associated with longevity. Current evidence highlights the protective effect exerted by MedDiet on the different components of MetS. Interestingly, the effect exerted by polyphenols contained within the representative MedDiet components (i.e., olive oil, red wine, and nuts) seems to be accountable for the beneficial properties associated to this dietary pattern. In this review, we aim to summarize the principal evidence regarding the effectiveness of MedDiet-polyphenols in preventing or delaying the physiopathological components accountable for MetS onset. These findings may provide useful insights concerning the health properties of MedDiet-polyphenols as well as the novel targets destined to a tailored approach to MetS.

  • The Role of Wearable Devices in Multiple Sclerosis.

    Publication Date: 10/10/2018, on Multiple sclerosis international
    by Sparaco M, Lavorgna L, Conforti R, Tedeschi G, Bonavita S
    DOI: 10.1155/2018/7627643

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common neurological disorder in young adults. The prevalence of walking impairment in people with MS (pwMS) is estimated between 41% and 75%. To evaluate the walking capacity in pwMS, the patient reported outcomes (PROs) and performance-based tests (i.e., the 2-minute walk test, the 6-minute walk test, the Timed 25-Foot Walk Test, the Timed Up and Go Test, and the Six Spot Step Test) could be used. However, some studies point out that the results of both performance-based tests and objective measures (i.e., by accelerometer) could not reflect patient reports of walking performance and impact of MS on daily life. This review analyses different motion sensors embedded in smartphones and motion wearable device (MWD) that can be useful to measure free-living walking behavior, to evaluate falls, fatigue, sedentary lifestyle, exercise, and quality of sleep in everyday life of pwMS. Caveats and limitations of MWD such as variable accuracy, user adherence, power consumption and recharging, noise susceptibility, and data management are discussed as well.

  • Erratum to "Resveratrol interrupts the pro-invasive communication between Cancer associated Fibroblasts and Cholangiocarcinoma cells" [Cancer Letters 430C (2018) 160-171].

    Publication Date: 10/10/2018, on Cancer letters
    by Thongchot S, Ferraresi A, Vidoni C, Loilome W, Yongvanit P, Namwat N, Isidoro C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.06.026

  • Adiponectin profile at baseline is correlated to progression and severity of multiple sclerosis.

    Publication Date: 09/10/2018, on European journal of neurology
    by Signoriello E, Lus G, Polito R, Casertano S, Scudiero O, Coletta M, Monaco ML, Rossi F, Nigro E, Daniele A
    DOI: 10.1111/ene.13822

    Adiponectin is a cytokine linking energy metabolism and immune system. After being assembled, adiponectin circulates as oligomers of different molecular weight, i.e. low, medium and high (HMW) molecular weight. These have the most potent biological effects. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the human central nervous system. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression levels of both total adiponectin and its oligomerization state in the serum from 99 patients with MS at baseline (i.e. not influenced by therapies). We also investigated the potential relationships between adiponectin and disease progression and severity.

  • FAAH-Catalyzed C-C Bond Cleavage of a New Multitarget Analgesic Drug.

    Publication Date: 04/10/2018, on ACS chemical neuroscience
    by Ligresti A, Silvestri C, Vitale RM, Martos JL, Piscitelli F, Wang JW, Allarà M, Carling RW, Luongo L, Guida F, Illiano A, Amoresano A, Maione S, Amodeo P, Woodward DF, Di Marzo V, Marino G
    DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00315

    The discovery of extended catalytic versatilities is of great importance in both the chemistry and biotechnology fields. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) belongs to the amidase signature superfamily and is a major endocannabinoid inactivating enzyme using an atypical catalytic mechanism involving hydrolysis of amide and occasionally ester bonds. FAAH inhibitors are efficacious in experimental models of neuropathic pain, inflammation, and anxiety, among others. We report a new multitarget drug, AGN220653, containing a carboxyamide-4-oxazole moiety and endowed with efficacious analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities, which are partly due to its capability of achieving inhibition of FAAH, and subsequently increasing the tissue concentrations of the endocannabinoid anandamide. This inhibitor behaves as a noncompetitive, slowly reversible inhibitor. Autoradiography of purified FAAH incubated with AGN220653, opportunely radiolabeled, indicated covalent binding followed by fragmentation of the molecule. Molecular docking suggested a possible nucleophilic attack by FAAH-Ser241 on the carbonyl group of the carboxyamide-4-oxazole moiety, resulting in the cleavage of the C-C bond between the oxazole and the carboxyamide moieties, instead of either of the two available amide bonds. MRM-MS analyses only detected the Ser241-assisted formation of the carbamate intermediate, thus confirming the cleavage of the aforementioned C-C bond. Quantum mechanics calculations were fully consistent with this mechanism. The study exemplifies how FAAH structural features and mechanism of action may override the binding and reactivity propensities of substrates. This unpredicted mechanism could pave the way to the future development of a completely new class of amidase inhibitors, of potential use against pain, inflammation, and mood disorders.

  • Microwave Ablation in Intermediate Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Cirrhosis: An Italian Multicenter Prospective Study.

    Publication Date: 28/09/2018, on Journal of clinical and translational hepatology
    by Giorgio A, Gatti P, Montesarchio L, Merola MG, Amendola F, Calvanese A, Iaquinto G, Fontana M, Ciracì E, Semeraro S, Santoro B, Coppola C, Matteucci P, Giorgio V
    DOI: 10.14218/JCTH.2018.00013

    To report long-term results in treatment of intermediate hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in cirrhotics using new high-powered microwaves (MWS) ablation alone. This multicenter study included 215 cirrhotics (age range: 67-84 years; 137 males; 149 Child A, 66 Child B) who underwent percutaneous ultrasound-guided high-powered MWS ablation instead of transarterial chemoembolization. Among the patient population, 109 had a single nodule (Ø 5.3-8 cm) [group A], 70 had 2 nodules (Ø 3-6 cm) [group B] and 36 had 3-5 nodules (Ø 1.5-6.8 cm) [group C]. MWS ablation efficacy was evaluated using enhanced-computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging. Primary end-point was 5-year cumulative overall survival (OS). On enhanced-computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging, complete ablation rates were 100% for 1.5-3.5 cm nodules. In nodules >3.5-5 cm, it was 89% for the first ablation and 100% for the second. For lesions >5-8 cm, ablation was up to 92%. Overall, 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates were 89, 60, and 21%, respectively. The cumulative OS rate of group A was 89%, 66% and 34% at 1, 3 and 5 years. The cumulative OS rate of group B was 88%, 60% and 11% at 1, 3 and 5 years. The cumulative OS rate of group C was 86%, 55% and 0%. The 5-year survival rate was significantly different among the groups ( <0.001). One patient died from rupture of HCC. Upon multivariate analysis, preablation total bilirubin >1.5 mg/dL was an independent factor for predicting lower survival. Percutaneous MWS ablation of intermediate HCC is safe and effective in inducing large volume of necrosis in intermediate HCC nodules, providing long-term survival rates similar to transarterial chemoembolization. Preablation total bilirubin >1.5 mg/dL as expression of liver function reserve is the main factor predicting a worse outcome.

  • Fatigue in Parkinson's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

    Publication Date: 28/09/2018, on Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society
    by Siciliano M, Trojano L, Santangelo G, De Micco R, Tedeschi G, Tessitore A
    DOI: 10.1002/mds.27461

    We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed at establishing robust prevalence estimates and identifying clinical correlates of fatigue in PD. From 2,459 titles and abstracts, we selected 44 relevant studies (n = 7427 patients). Overall, the meta-analysis showed a prevalence of fatigue of 50% in PD. This prevalence estimate, however, was significantly moderated by study heterogeneity in measurement scales and cut-off thresholds. In contrast, demographic features, disease severity, cognitive impairment, and depression did not moderate prevalence estimates. Moreover, fatigue prevalence did not differ between de novo and treated PD patients. Compared to nonfatigued patients, fatigued patients had sligthly higher age (1.44 years), disease duration (0.93 years), l-dopa equivalent daily dose (50.89 units), UPDRS-III (4.99 points), and H & Y (0.33 points), as well as risk of comorbid depression (risk ratio = 1.89) and had a little lower MMSE score (-0.66 points). Fatigue was moderately associated with apathy (Hedges' g = 0.55), anxiety (Hedges' g = 0.67), daytime somnolence (Hedges' g = 0.43), sleep disturbances (Hedges' g = 0.66), and poorer quality of life (Hedges' g = 1.23). Our analyses suggest that fatigue is a frequent, independent nonmotor symptom in PD appearing early and persisting throughout the disease course, and that establishing uniform diagnostic criteria for PD-related fatigue is critical. In addition, several nonmotor symptoms appear to be associated with fatigue and negatively impact quality of life. Pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions targeting fatigue and associated symptoms may improve quality of life in patients with PD. © 2018 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

  • Fronto-Temporal Circuits in Musical Hallucinations: A PET-MR Case Study.

    Publication Date: 27/09/2018, on Frontiers in human neuroscience
    by Cavaliere C, Longarzo M, Orsini M, Aiello M, Grossi D
    DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00385

    The aim of the study is to investigate morphofunctional circuits underlying musical hallucinations (MH) in a 72-years old female that underwent a simultaneous 18fluoredeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET) and advanced magnetic resonance (MR) exam. This represents a particular case of MH occurred in an healthy subject, not displaying neurological or psychopathological disorders, and studied simultaneously with a multimodal approach. For the resting-state fMRI analysis a seed to seed approach was chosen. For the task-based fMRI, 4 different auditory stimuli were presented. Imaging findings were compared with data obtained by ten healthy controls matched for age and sex. Neuropsychological evaluation and questionnaires investigating depression and anxiety were also administered. PET findings showed hypermetabolism of: superior temporal gyri, anterior cingulate, left orbital frontal, and medial temporal cortices. Structural MRI did not show macroscopical lesions except for gliotic spots along the uncinate fascicle pathways with an increased cortical thickness for the right orbitofrontal cortex ( = 0.003). DTI showed increased fractional anisotropy values in the left uncinate fascicle, when compared to controls ( = 0.04). Resting-state fMRI showed increased functional connectivity between the left inferior frontal gyrus and the left temporal fusiform cortex ( = 0.01). Task-based fMRI confirmed PET findings showing an increased activation of the superior temporal gyrus in all the auditory tasks except for the monotone stimulus, with a significant activation of the left orbital frontal cortex only during the song in foreign language, object of MH. Results on cognitive test did not show cognitive impairment, excepting for the performance on Frontal Assessment Battery where the patient fails in the cognitive domains of conceptualization, sensitive to interference, and inhibitory control. The subject did not show depressive or anxiety symptoms. Summarizing, multimodal imaging analyses in the MH case showed a microstructural alteration of the left uncinate fascicle paralleled by an increased metabolism and functional connectivity of cortical regions that receive left uncinate projections (orbital frontal cortex, and medial temporal cortex). This alteration of fronto-hyppocampal circuits could be responsible of retrieval of known songs even in the absence of real stimuli.

  • Late-Onset Pompe Disease with Nemaline Bodies.

    Publication Date: 27/09/2018, on Case reports in neurological medicine
    by Frezza E, Terracciano C, Giacanelli M, Rastelli E, Greco G, Massa R
    DOI: 10.1155/2018/4127213

    Pompe disease is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by deficiency of alpha-glucosidase, a lysosomal enzyme, which can lead to glycogen accumulation in skeletal muscle, heart, and nervous system. Clinical presentation is highly variable, with infantile and late-onset (LOPED) forms. Although muscle biopsy findings are rather stereotyped, atypical features have been described. A 52-year-old man without a family history of muscle disorders presented with slowly progressing upper and lower limb girdle weakness and hyperCKemia. At needle EMG, a diffuse neurogenic pattern was detected. Muscle biopsy showed a selective type 1 fiber atrophy with vacuoles of various sizes, filled with PAS and acid phosphatase positive material, confirmed to be glycogen by electron microscopy (EM). Many atrophic fibers contained foci of myofibrillar material recognized as nemaline bodies (NBs) at EM. Low level of alpha-glucosidase activity in blood and molecular genetic testing confirmed the diagnosis of late-onset Pompe disease (LOPED). Major causes of hereditary and acquired NB myopathy were ruled out. In conclusion, NBs represent a novel histological finding in LOPED and characterize the atypical presentation of our case.

  • A hypothesis of sudden body fluid vaporization in the 79 AD victims of Vesuvius.

    Publication Date: 26/09/2018, on PloS one
    by Petrone P, Pucci P, Vergara A, Amoresano A, Birolo L, Pane F, Sirano F, Niola M, Buccelli C, Graziano V
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203210

    In AD 79 the town of Herculaneum was suddenly hit and overwhelmed by volcanic ash-avalanches that killed all its remaining residents, as also occurred in Pompeii and other settlements as far as 20 kilometers from Vesuvius. New investigations on the victims' skeletons unearthed from the ash deposit filling 12 waterfront chambers have now revealed widespread preservation of atypical red and black mineral residues encrusting the bones, which also impregnate the ash filling the intracranial cavity and the ash-bed encasing the skeletons. Here we show the unique detection of large amounts of iron and iron oxides from such residues, as revealed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and Raman microspectroscopy, thought to be the final products of heme iron upon thermal decomposition. The extraordinarily rare preservation of significant putative evidence of hemoprotein thermal degradation from the eruption victims strongly suggests the rapid vaporization of body fluids and soft tissues of people at death due to exposure to extreme heat.

  • Neural correlates of apathy in patients with neurodegenerative disorders: an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis.

    Publication Date: 20/09/2018, on Brain imaging and behavior
    by Raimo S, Santangelo G, D'Iorio A, Trojano L, Grossi D
    DOI: 10.1007/s11682-018-9959-0

    Apathy is commonly reported in Alzheimer's Disease (AD), Fronto-Temporal Dementia (FTD) and Parkinson's Disease (PD). In our meta-analysis we analysed a total of 41 studies to identify brain patterns associated with apathy. For these purposes we used activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses. Our main overall analysis showed that apathy is associated to hypometabolism and a decreased gray matter volume in the left inferior frontal gyrus (BA 45, 46). Disorder-specific analyses, not performed by means of meta-analysis, because of the small number of studies, but by means a label-based review, revealed an altered brain perfusion and decreased gray matter volume in anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24, 32) in AD patients and a decreased gray matter volume in inferior frontal gyrus (BA 44, 45) and parietal cortex (BA 40) in FTD patients. These findings suggest that apathy is mainly associated with a cortical dysfunction of areas involved in executive-cognitive processing (i.e. action planning) and emotional regulation (auto-activation and reward processing). Knowledge about the neural underpinnings of apathy is crucial for understanding its clinical characteristics in neurodegenerative diseases and for developing novel strategies of treatment in clinical practice.