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1.  HMG-coenzyme A reductase inhibition, type 2 diabetes, and bodyweight: evidence from genetic analysis and randomised trials 
Swerdlow, Daniel I | Preiss, David | Kuchenbaecker, Karoline B | Holmes, Michael V | Engmann, Jorgen E L | Shah, Tina | Sofat, Reecha | Stender, Stefan | Johnson, Paul C D | Scott, Robert A | Leusink, Maarten | Verweij, Niek | Sharp, Stephen J | Guo, Yiran | Giambartolomei, Claudia | Chung, Christina | Peasey, Anne | Amuzu, Antoinette | Li, KaWah | Palmen, Jutta | Howard, Philip | Cooper, Jackie A | Drenos, Fotios | Li, Yun R | Lowe, Gordon | Gallacher, John | Stewart, Marlene C W | Tzoulaki, Ioanna | Buxbaum, Sarah G | van der A, Daphne L | Forouhi, Nita G | Onland-Moret, N Charlotte | van der Schouw, Yvonne T | Schnabel, Renate B | Hubacek, Jaroslav A | Kubinova, Ruzena | Baceviciene, Migle | Tamosiunas, Abdonas | Pajak, Andrzej | Topor-Madry, Romanvan | Stepaniak, Urszula | Malyutina, Sofia | Baldassarre, Damiano | Sennblad, Bengt | Tremoli, Elena | de Faire, Ulf | Veglia, Fabrizio | Ford, Ian | Jukema, J Wouter | Westendorp, Rudi G J | de Borst, Gert Jan | de Jong, Pim A | Algra, Ale | Spiering, Wilko | der Zee, Anke H Maitland-van | Klungel, Olaf H | de Boer, Anthonius | Doevendans, Pieter A | Eaton, Charles B | Robinson, Jennifer G | Duggan, David | Kjekshus, John | Downs, John R | Gotto, Antonio M | Keech, Anthony C | Marchioli, Roberto | Tognoni, Gianni | Sever, Peter S | Poulter, Neil R | Waters, David D | Pedersen, Terje R | Amarenco, Pierre | Nakamura, Haruo | McMurray, John J V | Lewsey, James D | Chasman, Daniel I | Ridker, Paul M | Maggioni, Aldo P | Tavazzi, Luigi | Ray, Kausik K | Seshasai, Sreenivasa Rao Kondapally | Manson, JoAnn E | Price, Jackie F | Whincup, Peter H | Morris, Richard W | Lawlor, Debbie A | Smith, George Davey | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Schreiner, Pamela J | Fornage, Myriam | Siscovick, David S | Cushman, Mary | Kumari, Meena | Wareham, Nick J | Verschuren, W M Monique | Redline, Susan | Patel, Sanjay R | Whittaker, John C | Hamsten, Anders | Delaney, Joseph A | Dale, Caroline | Gaunt, Tom R | Wong, Andrew | Kuh, Diana | Hardy, Rebecca | Kathiresan, Sekar | Castillo, Berta A | van der Harst, Pim | Brunner, Eric J | Tybjaerg-Hansen, Anne | Marmot, Michael G | Krauss, Ronald M | Tsai, Michael | Coresh, Josef | Hoogeveen, Ronald C | Psaty, Bruce M | Lange, Leslie A | Hakonarson, Hakon | Dudbridge, Frank | Humphries, Steve E | Talmud, Philippa J | Kivimäki, Mika | Timpson, Nicholas J | Langenberg, Claudia | Asselbergs, Folkert W | Voevoda, Mikhail | Bobak, Martin | Pikhart, Hynek | Wilson, James G | Reiner, Alex P | Keating, Brendan J | Hingorani, Aroon D | Sattar, Naveed
Lancet  2015;385(9965):351-361.
Statins increase the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus. We aimed to assess whether this increase in risk is a consequence of inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), the intended drug target.
We used single nucleotide polymorphisms in the HMGCR gene, rs17238484 (for the main analysis) and rs12916 (for a subsidiary analysis) as proxies for HMGCR inhibition by statins. We examined associations of these variants with plasma lipid, glucose, and insulin concentrations; bodyweight; waist circumference; and prevalent and incident type 2 diabetes. Study-specific effect estimates per copy of each LDL-lowering allele were pooled by meta-analysis. These findings were compared with a meta-analysis of new-onset type 2 diabetes and bodyweight change data from randomised trials of statin drugs. The effects of statins in each randomised trial were assessed using meta-analysis.
Data were available for up to 223 463 individuals from 43 genetic studies. Each additional rs17238484-G allele was associated with a mean 0·06 mmol/L (95% CI 0·05–0·07) lower LDL cholesterol and higher body weight (0·30 kg, 0·18–0·43), waist circumference (0·32 cm, 0·16–0·47), plasma insulin concentration (1·62%, 0·53–2·72), and plasma glucose concentration (0·23%, 0·02–0·44). The rs12916 SNP had similar effects on LDL cholesterol, bodyweight, and waist circumference. The rs17238484-G allele seemed to be associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes (odds ratio [OR] per allele 1·02, 95% CI 1·00–1·05); the rs12916-T allele association was consistent (1·06, 1·03–1·09). In 129 170 individuals in randomised trials, statins lowered LDL cholesterol by 0·92 mmol/L (95% CI 0·18–1·67) at 1-year of follow-up, increased bodyweight by 0·24 kg (95% CI 0·10–0·38 in all trials; 0·33 kg, 95% CI 0·24–0·42 in placebo or standard care controlled trials and −0·15 kg, 95% CI −0·39 to 0·08 in intensive-dose vs moderate-dose trials) at a mean of 4·2 years (range 1·9–6·7) of follow-up, and increased the odds of new-onset type 2 diabetes (OR 1·12, 95% CI 1·06–1·18 in all trials; 1·11, 95% CI 1·03–1·20 in placebo or standard care controlled trials and 1·12, 95% CI 1·04–1·22 in intensive-dose vs moderate dose trials).
The increased risk of type 2 diabetes noted with statins is at least partially explained by HMGCR inhibition.
The funding sources are cited at the end of the paper.
PMCID: PMC4322187  PMID: 25262344
2.  The Combination of Insulin-Like Growth Factor Receptor 1 (IGF1R) Antibody Cixutumumab and Mitotane as a First-Line Therapy for Patients with Recurrent/Metastatic Adrenocortical Carcinoma: a Multi-institutional NCI-Sponsored Trial 
Hormones & cancer  2014;5(4):232-239.
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive malignancy, which lacks an effective systemic treatment. Abnormal activation of insulin-like growth factor receptor 1 (IGF1R) has been frequently observed. Preclinical studies demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of IGF1R signaling in ACC has antiproliferative effects. A previous phase I trial with an IGF1R inhibitor has demonstrated biological activity against ACC. The objective of this study is to assess the efficacy of the combination of the IGF1R inhibitor cixutumumab (IMC-A12) in association with mitotane as a first-line treatment for advanced/metastatic ACC. We conducted a multicenter, randomized double-arm phase II trial in patients with irresectable recurrent/metastatic ACC. The original protocol included two treatment groups: IMC-A12 + mitotane and mitotane as a single agent, after an initial single-arm phase for safety evaluation with IMC-A12 + mitotane. IMC-A12 was dosed at 10 mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks. The starting dose for mitotane was 2 g daily, subsequently adjusted according to serum levels/symptoms. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) according to RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors). This study was terminated before the randomization phase due to slow accrual and limited efficacy. Twenty patients (13 males, 7 females) with a median age of 50.2 years (range 21.9–79.6) were enrolled for the single-arm phase. Therapeutic effects were observed in 8/20 patients, including one partial response and seven stable diseases. The median PFS was 6 weeks (range 2.66–48). Toxic events included two grade 4 (hyperglycemia and hyponatremia) and one grade 5 (multiorgan failure). Although the regimen demonstrated activity in some patients, the relatively low therapeutic efficacy precluded further studies with this combination of drugs.
PMCID: PMC4298824  PMID: 24849545
3.  Prevalence of the ApoE Arg145Cys Dyslipidemia At-risk Polymorphism in African-derived Populations 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;113(2):302-308.
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), a protein component of blood lipid particles, plays an important role in lipid transport. Different mutations in the ApoE gene have been associated with various clinical phenotypes. In an initiated study of Qataris, we observed that 17% of the African-derived genetic subgroup were heterozygotes for a rare Arg145Cys (R145C) variant that functions as a dominant trait with incomplete penetrance associated with type III hyperlipoproteinemia. Based on this observation, we hypothesized that the R145C polymorphism may be common in African-derived populations. The prevalence of the R145C variant was assessed worldwide in the 1000 Genomes Project (1000G) and in 1012 Caucasians and 1226 African-Americans in New York City. The 1000G data demonstrated that the R145C polymorphism is rare in non-African derived populations, but present in 5–12% of sub-Saharan African-derived populations. The R145C polymorphism was also rare in New York City Caucasians (1/1012, 0.1%), but strikingly, 53 (4.3%) of 1226 New York City African-Americans were R145C heterozygotes. Lipid profiles of the Qatari and New York R145C were compared to controls. Qatari R145C had higher triglyceride levels compared to Qatari controls (p<0.007) and NY African-Americans R145C had an average of 52% higher fasting triglyceride levels compared to NY African-American controls (p<0.002). Based on these observations, there are likely millions of people worldwide derived from Sub-Saharan Africans that are ApoE R145C. In conclusion, while larger epidemiologic studies are necessary to determine the long-term consequences of this polymorphism, the available evidence suggests it is a common cause of a mild triglyceride dyslipidemia.
PMCID: PMC3943837  PMID: 24239320
Apolipoprotein E; polymorphism; lipids; dyslipidemia; ethnicity
7.  Review of the Results of WT1 Peptide Vaccination Strategies for Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Acute Myeloid Leukemia from Nine Different Studies 
We performed a systematic review of data from nine clinical trials of WT1 peptide vaccination in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and/or acute myeloid leukemia (MDS/AML), published between 2004 and 2012. A total of 51 patients were eligible for analysis. Vaccination with WT1 peptides proved safe and feasible in patients with MDS/AML, in studies from different institutions. Additionally, clinical responses and clinical benefit were observed, with some patients achieving and maintaining remission long-term (more than 8 years). A significant correlation between induction of WT1-specific T cells and normalization/reduction of WT1 mRNA levels and progression-free survival was noted in a number of studies. However, larger studies are warranted to confirm these results. Interestingly, the majority of trials reported the presence of WT1-specific T cells with limited or absent functionality prior to vaccination, which increased in frequency and function after vaccination. In conclusion, WT1 peptide vaccination strategies were safe in this heterogeneous group of patient with MDS/AML. Larger and more homogeneous studies or randomized clinical trials are needed to quantify the contribution of WT1 peptide vaccines to clinical responses and long-term survival.
PMCID: PMC4316779
WT1; peptide vaccine; MDS/AML; TAA; active immunotherapy
8.  The translation initiation complex eIF3 in trypanosomatids and other pathogenic excavates – identification of conserved and divergent features based on orthologue analysis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1175.
The initiation of translation in eukaryotes is supported by the action of several eukaryotic Initiation Factors (eIFs). The largest of these is eIF3, comprising of up to thirteen polypeptides (eIF3a through eIF3m), involved in multiple stages of the initiation process. eIF3 has been better characterized from model organisms, but is poorly known from more diverged groups, including unicellular lineages represented by known human pathogens. These include the trypanosomatids (Trypanosoma and Leishmania) and other protists belonging to the taxonomic supergroup Excavata (Trichomonas and Giardia sp.).
An in depth bioinformatic search was carried out to recover the full content of eIF3 subunits from the available genomes of L. major, T. brucei, T. vaginalis and G. duodenalis. The protein sequences recovered were then submitted to homology analysis and alignments comparing them with orthologues from representative eukaryotes. Eleven putative eIF3 subunits were found from both trypanosomatids whilst only five and four subunits were identified from T. vaginalis and G. duodenalis, respectively. Only three subunits were found in all eukaryotes investigated, eIF3b, eIF3c and eIF3i. The single subunit found to have a related Archaean homologue was eIF3i, the most conserved of the eIF3 subunits. The sequence alignments revealed several strongly conserved residues/region within various eIF3 subunits of possible functional relevance. Subsequent biochemical characterization of the Leishmania eIF3 complex validated the bioinformatic search and yielded a twelfth eIF3 subunit in trypanosomatids, eIF3f (the single unidentified subunit in trypanosomatids was then eIF3m). The biochemical data indicates a lack of association of the eIF3j subunit to the complex whilst highlighting the strong interaction between eIF3 and eIF1.
The presence of most eIF3 subunits in trypanosomatids is consistent with an early evolution of a fully functional complex. Simplified versions in other excavates might indicate a primordial complex or secondary loss of selected subunits, as seen for some fungal lineages. The conservation in eIF3i sequence might indicate critical functions within eIF3 which have been overlooked. The identification of eIF3 subunits from distantly related eukaryotes provides then a basis for the study of conserved/divergent aspects of eIF3 function, leading to a better understanding of eukaryotic translation initiation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1175) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320536  PMID: 25539953
Translation initiation factor; Protein synthesis; eIF3; Protozoa
9.  The evolution of bacterial mutation rates under simultaneous selection by interspecific and social parasitism 
Many bacterial populations harbour substantial numbers of hypermutable bacteria, in spite of hypermutation being associated with deleterious mutations. One reason for the persistence of hypermutators is the provision of novel mutations, enabling rapid adaptation to continually changing environments, for example coevolving virulent parasites. However, hypermutation also increases the rate at which intraspecific parasites (social cheats) are generated. Interspecific and intraspecific parasitism are therefore likely to impose conflicting selection pressure on mutation rate. Here, we combine theory and experiments to investigate how simultaneous selection from inter- and intraspecific parasitism affects the evolution of bacterial mutation rates in the plant-colonizing bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens. Both our theoretical and experimental results suggest that phage presence increases and selection for public goods cooperation (the production of iron-scavenging siderophores) decreases selection for mutator bacteria. Moreover, phages imposed a much greater growth cost than social cheating, and when both selection pressures were imposed simultaneously, selection for cooperation did not affect mutation rate evolution. Given the ubiquity of infectious phages in the natural environment and clinical infections, our results suggest that phages are likely to be more important than social interactions in determining mutation rate evolution.
PMCID: PMC3826219  PMID: 24197408
evolution; Pseudomonas; mutation rate; public good cooperation; parasites
10.  Automated image analysis in the study of lymphocyte subpopulation in eosinophilic oesophagitis 
Diagnostic Pathology  2014;9(Suppl 1):S7.
Eosinophilic oesophagitis (EoE) is characterized by the presence of eosinophils in oesophageal mucosa. Other inflammatory cells, mainly lymphocytes, dendritic cells, and mast cells may also play an important role in this disease. The aim of this study is to compare the inflammatory pattern of the mucosa between EoE and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), using automatic image analysis in digital slides, and to assess treatment response after elimination diet and food challenge test.
From 2010 to 2013, 35 oesophageal biopsies from EoE and GERD patients were randomly selected. In six EoE biopsies, patients had been treated with selective food exclusion diet. Immunohistochemical study with CD3, CD20, CD4, and CD8 for lymphocyte populations, CD1a for dendritic cells, and CD117/c-kit for mast cells was performed. Slides were scanned using Leica Aperio Scanscope XT with 40× magnification. Immunohistochemical expression was quantified in 245 immunohistochemistry digital slides with Leica Aperio positive pixel count algorithm using two different approaches: whole slide analysis versus selection of a 2 mm2 hot spot area.
Average eosinophil cell count was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the first biopsy of EoE patients before treatment (30.75 eosinophils per high power field - HPF) than in GERD patients (0.85 eosinophils/HPF) or in EoE patients after treatment with elimination diet (1.60 eosinophils/HPF). In the immunohistochemical study, manual count and automatic image analysis showed a significant increase in the number of CD3 and CD8 cells in EoE patients, compared with GERD patients. However, the increase of CD117/c-kit was only statistically significant when manual counting procedures were used. CD20 positive cell count also showed a non-statistically significant tendency to reduce after elimination diet treatment.
Manual eosinophil count correlated much better with CD3 and CD8 count using hot spot approach than with a whole slide approach.
Positive pixel count algorithm can be a useful tool to quantify the immunohistochemical expression of inflammatory cells in the diagnosis and follow up of eosinophilic oesophagitis.
PMCID: PMC4305977  PMID: 25565117
11.  Future perspectives in melanoma research: meeting report from the “Melanoma Bridge”, Napoli, December 5th-8th 2013 
The fourth “Melanoma Bridge Meeting” took place in Naples, December 5 to 8th, 2013. The four topics discussed at this meeting were: Diagnosis and New Procedures, Molecular Advances and Combination Therapies, News in Immunotherapy, and Tumor Microenvironment and Biomarkers.
Until recently systemic therapy for metastatic melanoma patients was ineffective, but recent research in tumor biology and immunology has led to the development of new targeted and immunotherapeutic agents that prolong progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). New therapies, such as mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway inhibitors, like BRAF and MEK inhibitors, as well as other signaling pathways inhibitors, are being tested in metastatic melanoma either as monotherapy or in combination, and have yielded promising results.
Improved survival rates have also been observed with immune therapy for patients with metastatic melanoma. Immune-modulating antibodies came to the forefront with anti-CTLA-4, programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and PD-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) pathway blocking antibodies that result in durable responses in a subset of melanoma patients. Agents targeting other immune inhibitory (e.g., Tim-3) or immune stimulating (e.g., CD137) receptors and other approaches such as adoptive cell transfer demonstrate clinical benefit in melanoma as well.
This meeting’s specific focus was on advances in targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Both combination targeted therapy approaches and different immunotherapies were discussed. Similarly to the previous meetings, the importance of biomarkers for clinical application as markers for diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of treatment response was an integral part of the meeting. Significant consideration was given to issues surrounding the development of novel therapeutic targets as further study of patterns of resistance to both immunologic and targeted drugs are paramount to future drug development to guide existing and future therapies. The overall emphasis on biomarkers supports novel concepts toward integrating biomarkers into contemporary clinical management of patients with melanoma across the entire spectrum of disease stage. Translation of the knowledge gained from the biology of tumor microenvironment across different tumors represents a bridge to impact on prognosis and response to therapy in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC4232645  PMID: 25348889
12.  Levels and changes of HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein A-I in relation to risk of cardiovascular events among statin-treated patients; a meta-analysis 
Circulation  2013;128(14):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002670.
It is unclear whether levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) or apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) remain inversely associated with cardiovascular risk among patients who achieve very low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) on statin therapy. It is also unknown whether a rise in HDL-C or apoA-I after initiation of statin therapy is associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk.
Methods and results
We performed a meta-analysis of 8 statin trials in which lipids and apolipoproteins were determined in all study participants at baseline and at 1-year follow-up. Individual patient data were obtained for 38,153 trial participants allocated to statin therapy, of whom 5387 suffered a major cardiovascular event. HDL-C levels were associated with a reduced risk of major cardiovascular events (adjusted hazard ratio 0.83, 95%CI 0.81–0.86 per 1 standard deviation increment), as were apoA-I levels (HR 0.79, 95%CI 0.72–0.82). This association was also observed among patients achieving on-statin LDL-C levels < 50 mg/dL. An increase of HDL-C was not associated with reduced cardiovascular risk (HR 0.98, 95%CI 0.94–1.01 per 1 standard deviation increment), whereas a rise in apoA-I was (HR 0.93, 95%CI 0.90–0.97).
Among patients treated with statin therapy, HDL-C and apoA-I levels were strongly associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk, even among those achieving very low LDL-C. An apoA-I increase was associated with a reduced risk of major cardiovascular events, whereas for HDL-C this was not the case. These findings suggest that therapies that increase apoA-I concentration require further exploration with regard to cardiovascular risk reduction.
PMCID: PMC3807966  PMID: 23965489
high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; apolipoprotein; meta-analysis; cardiovascular outcomes
13.  Saccharomyces cerevisiae and non-Saccharomyces yeasts in grape varieties of the São Francisco Valley 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2014;45(2):411-416.
The aims of this work was to characterise indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains in the naturally fermented juice of grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo used in the São Francisco River Valley, northeastern Brazil. In this study, 155 S. cerevisiae and 60 non-Saccharomyces yeasts were isolated and identified using physiological tests and sequencing of the D1/D2 domains of the large subunit of the rRNA gene. Among the non-Saccharomyces species, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa was the most common species, followed by Pichia kudriavzevii, Candida parapsilosis, Meyerozyma guilliermondii, Wickerhamomyces anomalus, Kloeckera apis, P. manshurica, C. orthopsilosis and C. zemplinina. The population counts of these yeasts ranged among 1.0 to 19 × 105 cfu/mL. A total of 155 isolates of S. cerevisiae were compared by mitochondrial DNA restriction analysis, and five molecular mitochondrial DNA restriction profiles were detected. Indigenous strains of S. cerevisiae isolated from grapes of the São Francisco Valley can be further tested as potential starters for wine production.
PMCID: PMC4166264  PMID: 25242923
Brazilian wines; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; indigenous strains; non-Saccharomyces; mitochondrial DNA restriction analysis
14.  Depletion of the RNA-Binding Protein RBP33 Results in Increased Expression of Silenced RNA Polymerase II Transcripts in Trypanosoma brucei 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107608.
We have characterized the RNA-binding protein RBP33 in Trypanosoma brucei, and found that it localizes to the nucleus and is essential for viability. The subset of RNAs bound to RBP33 was determined by immunoprecipitation of ribonucleoprotein complexes followed by deep sequencing. Most RBP33-bound transcripts are predicted to be non-coding. Among these, over one-third are located close to the end of transcriptional units (TUs) or have an antisense orientation within a TU. Depletion of RBP33 resulted in an increase in the level of RNAs derived from regions that are normally silenced, such as strand-switch regions, retroposon and repeat sequences. Our work provides the first example of an RNA-binding protein involved in the regulation of gene silencing in trypanosomes.
PMCID: PMC4162612  PMID: 25215501
16.  Fair and unfair punishers coexist in the Ultimatum Game 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6025.
In the Ultimatum Game, a proposer suggests how to split a sum of money with a responder. If the responder rejects the proposal, both players get nothing. Rejection of unfair offers is regarded as a form of punishment implemented by fair-minded individuals, who are willing to impose the cooperation norm at a personal cost. However, recent research using other experimental frameworks has observed non-negligible levels of antisocial punishment by competitive, spiteful individuals, which can eventually undermine cooperation. Using two large-scale experiments, this note explores the nature of Ultimatum Game punishers by analyzing their behavior in a Dictator Game. In both studies, the coexistence of two entirely different sub-populations is confirmed: prosocial punishers on the one hand, who behave fairly as dictators, and spiteful (antisocial) punishers on the other, who are totally unfair. The finding has important implications regarding the evolution of cooperation and the behavioral underpinnings of stable social systems.
PMCID: PMC4129421  PMID: 25113502
17.  Religious Pro-Sociality? Experimental Evidence from a Sample of 766 Spaniards 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104685.
This study explores the relationship between several personal religion-related variables and social behaviour, using three paradigmatic economic games: the dictator (DG), ultimatum (UG), and trust (TG) games. A large carefully designed sample of the urban adult population in Granada (Spain) is employed (N = 766). From participants' decisions in these games we obtain measures of altruism, bargaining behaviour and sense of fairness/equality, trust, and positive reciprocity. Three dimensions of religiosity are examined: (i) religious denomination; (ii) intensity of religiosity, measured by active participation at church services; and (iii) conversion out into a different denomination than the one raised in. The major results are: (i) individuals with “no religion” made decisions closer to rational selfish behaviour in the DG and the UG compared to those who affiliate with a “standard” religious denomination; (ii) among Catholics, intensity of religiosity is the key variable that affects social behaviour insofar as religiously-active individuals are generally more pro-social than non-active ones; and (iii) the religion raised in seems to have no effect on pro-sociality, beyond the effect of the current measures of religiosity. Importantly, behaviour in the TG is not predicted by any of the religion-related variables we analyse. While the results partially support the notion of religious pro-sociality, on the other hand, they also highlight the importance of closely examining the multidimensional nature of both religiosity and pro-social behaviour.
PMCID: PMC4130547  PMID: 25115938
18.  Setting the course for apoAII: a port in sight? 
Clinical lipidology  2013;8(5):551-560.
ApoAII, the second most abundant protein of the human plasma HDLs, was discovered nearly 50 years ago. Over the subsequent years, nearly 2000 studies – epidemiological, cell-based, biochemical, mouse and human – have attempted to unravel its role in human lipid metabolism. On the basis of these studies, apoAII has been described as an activator and inhibitor of various plasma activities, and as both pro- and anti-atherogenic. Here, we summarize the studies of apoAII, use the preponderance of evidence to propose that the apoAII compass can be reset towards an antiatherogenic course, and suggest ways to stay the course.
PMCID: PMC4108335  PMID: 25067958
atherosclerosis; cholesterol; epidemiology; lipid metabolism; lipoprotein therapeutics; reverse cholesterol transport
19.  Condom Use by Partner Type Among Military and Police Personnel in Peru 
American journal of men's health  2012;6(4):266-272.
The aim of this study was to analyze the rates of condom use among military and police populations in Peru, focusing on differences in use by type of partner. A Knowledge Attitudes and Practices survey was conducted among 6,808 military and police personnel in 18 Peruvian cities between August–September 2006 and September–October 2007. A total of 90.2% of the survey respondents were male; mean age was 37.8 years and 77.9% were married/cohabiting. In all, 99.5% reported having had sex; 89% of the participants had their last sexual contact with their stable partner, 9.7% with a nonstable partner, and 0.8% with a sex worker. Overall, 20.4% used a condom during their most recent sexual contact. Reasons for nonuse of condoms included the following: perception that a condom was not necessary (31.3%) and using another birth control method (26.7%). Prevention efforts against sexually transmitted diseases should focus on strengthening condom use, especially among individuals with nonstable partners.
PMCID: PMC4080898  PMID: 22398988
condom use; HIV/AIDS; military; risk factors; sexually transmitted diseases/infections
20.  Assessing the Relative Importance of Local and Regional Processes on the Survival of a Threatened Salmon Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99814.
Research on regulatory mechanisms in biological populations often focuses on environmental covariates. An integrated approach that combines environmental indices with organismal-level information can provide additional insight on regulatory mechanisms. Survival of spring/summer Snake River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is consistently low whereas some adjacent populations with similar life histories experience greater survival. It is not known if populations with differential survival respond similarly during early marine residence, a critical period in the life history. Ocean collections, genetic stock identification, and otolith analyses were combined to evaluate the growth-mortality and match-mismatch hypotheses during early marine residence of spring/summer Snake River Chinook salmon. Interannual variation in juvenile attributes, including size at marine entry and marine growth rate, was compared with estimates of survival and physical and biological metrics. Multiple linear regression and multi-model inference were used to evaluate the relative importance of biological and physical metrics in explaining interannual variation in survival. There was relatively weak support for the match-mismatch hypothesis and stronger evidence for the growth-mortality hypothesis. Marine growth and size at capture were strongly, positively related to survival, a finding similar to spring Chinook salmon from the Mid-Upper Columbia River. In hindcast models, basin-scale indices (Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO)) and biological indices (juvenile salmon catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) and a copepod community index (CCI)) accounted for substantial and similar portions of variation in survival for juvenile emigration years 1998–2008 (R2>0.70). However, in forecast models for emigration years 2009–2011, there was an increasing discrepancy between predictions based on the PDO (50–448% of observed value) compared with those based on the NPGO (68–212%) or biological indices (CPUE and CCI: 83–172%). Overall, the PDO index was remarkably informative in earlier years but other basin-scale and biological indices provided more accurate indications of survival in recent years.
PMCID: PMC4055704  PMID: 24924741
21.  Rational engineering of a minimized immune inhibitor with unique triple targeting properties 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2013;190(11):10.4049/jimmunol.1203548.
Inadequate control of the complement system is the underlying or aggravating factor in many human diseases. While treatment options that specifically target the alternative pathway (AP) of complement activation are considered highly desirable, no such option is available in the clinic. Here we present a successful example of protein engineering, guided by structural insight on the complement regulator factor H (FH), yielding a novel complement-targeted therapeutic (mini-FH) with clinical potential. Despite a 70% reduction in size, mini-FH retained and in some respects exceeded the regulatory activity and cell surface-recognition properties of its parent protein FH, including the recently described recognition of sites of oxidative stress. Importantly, the chosen design extended the functional spectrum of the inhibitor, as mini-FH showed increased binding to the surface-bound opsonins iC3b and C3dg when compared to FH. Thus, mini-FH is equipped with a unique and clinically valuable triple-targeting profile towards diseased host cells, through its binding to sites of ongoing complement activation, markers of oxidative damage, and host surface-specific polyanions. When assessed in a clinically relevant AP-mediated disease model of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, mini-FH largely outperformed factor H and indicated advantages over clinically evaluated AP inhibitors. Thus, the rational engineering of a streamlined FH construct not only provided insight into the function of a key complement regulator but also yielded a novel inhibitor that combines a triple targeting approach with high AP-specific inhibitory activity (IC50 ~ 40 nM), which may pave the way towards new options for the treatment of complement-mediated diseases.
PMCID: PMC3825029  PMID: 23616575
22.  Abscopal effects of radiotherapy on advanced melanoma patients who progressed after ipilimumab immunotherapy 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e28780.
Cancer radiotherapy (RT) may induce what is referred to as the “abscopal effect,” a regression of non-irradiated metastatic lesions distant from the primary tumor site directly subject to irradiation. This clinical response is rare, but has been surmised to be an immune-mediated phenomenon, suggesting that immunotherapy and RT could potentially synergize. Here, we report the outcome of patients with advanced melanoma treated with the immune checkpoint blockade monoclonal antibody antagonist, ipilimumab followed by RT. Patients were selected for enrollment at the National Cancer Institute “Fondazione G.Pascale” through the expanded access program in Italy. Those who experienced disease progression after ipilimumab thus received subsequent RT and were selected for analysis. Among 21 patients, 13 patients (62%) received RT to treat metastases in the brain and 8 received RT directed at extracranial sites. An abscopal response was observed in 11 patients (52%), 9 of whom had partial responses (43%) and 2 had stable disease (10%). The median time from RT to an abscopal response was 1 month (range 1–4). Median overall survival (OS) for all 21 patients was 13 months (range 6–26). Median OS for patients with abscopal responses was extended to 22.4 months (range 2.5–50.3) vs. 8.3 months (range 7.6–9.0) without. A local response to RT was detected in 13 patients (62%) and, of these, 11 patients (85%) had an abscopal response and abscopal effects were only observed among patients exhibiting a local response. These results suggest RT after ipilimumab may lead to abscopal responses in some patients with advanced melanoma correlating with prolonged OS. Our data also suggest that local responses to RT may be predictive of abscopal responses. Further research in larger randomized trials is needed to validate these results.
PMCID: PMC4106166  PMID: 25083318
melanoma; ipilimumab; abscopal; radiotherapy; expanded access; combination
23.  Increased expression of ACTH (MC2R) and androgen (AR) receptors in giant bilateral myelolipomas from patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia 
Although chronic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and androgen hyperstimulation are assumed to be involved in the pathogenesis of adrenal myelolipomas associated with poor-compliance patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), the expression of their receptors has not yet been demonstrated in these tumors so far.
We analyzed Melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R), Androgen Receptor (AR), Leptin (LEP), and Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1) expression using real-time qRT-PCR in two giant bilateral adrenal myelolipomas from two untreated simple virilizing CAH cases and in two sporadic adrenal myelolipomas. In addition, the X-chromosome inactivation pattern and CAG repeat numbers in AR exon 1 gene were evaluated in the 4 cases.
The MC2R gene was overexpressed in myelolipomas from 3 out of 4 patients. AR overexpression was detected in 2 tumors: a giant bilateral myelolipoma in a CAH patient and a sporadic case. Simultaneous overexpression of AR and MC2R genes was found in two of the cases. Interestingly, the bilateral giant myelolipoma associated with CAH that had high androgen and ACTH levels but lacked MC2R and AR overexpression presented a significantly shorter AR allele compared with other tumors. In addition, X-chromosome inactivation pattern analysis showed a polyclonal origin in all tumors, suggesting a stimulatory effect as the trigger for tumor development.
These findings are the first evidence for MC2R or AR overexpression in giant bilateral myelolipomas from poor-compliance CAH patients.
PMCID: PMC4024625  PMID: 24884994
Adrenal myelolipoma; Congenital adrenal hyperplasia; ACTH; MC2R; Androgen receptor; Clonality analysis
24.  A short RNA stem–loop is necessary and sufficient for repression of gene expression during early logarithmic phase in trypanosomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(11):7201-7209.
We have compared the transcriptomes of cultured procyclic Trypanosoma brucei cells in early and late logarithmic phases and found that ∼200 mRNAs were differentially regulated. In late log phase cells, the most upregulated mRNA encoded the nucleobase transporter NT8. The 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of NT8 contains a short stem–loop cis-element that is necessary for the regulation of NT8 expression in response to external purine levels. When placed in the 3′-UTR of an unregulated transcript, the cis-element is sufficient to confer regulation in response to purines. To our knowledge, this is the first example of a discrete RNA element that can autonomously regulate gene expression in trypanosomes in response to an external factor and reveals an unprecedented purine-dependent signaling pathway that controls gene expression in eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC4066783  PMID: 24813448
25.  Prospective unmasked randomized evaluation of the iStent inject® versus two ocular hypotensive agents in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma 
The purpose of this study was to compare outcomes of subjects with open-angle glaucoma (OAG) not controlled on one medication who underwent either implantation of two iStent inject® trabecular micro-bypass devices or received medical therapy consisting of a fixed combination of latanoprost/timolol.
Patients and methods
Of 192 subjects who qualified for the study and were enrolled, 94 were randomized to surgery with implantation of two iStent inject® devices in the treated eye and 98 to receive medical therapy.
At the month 12 visit, 94.7% of eyes (89/94) in the stent group reported an unmedicated intraocular pressure (IOP) reduction of ≥20% versus baseline unmedicated IOP, and 91.8% of eyes (88/98) in the medical therapy group reported an IOP reduction ≥20% versus baseline unmedicated IOP. A 17.5% between-group treatment difference in favor of the iStent inject group was statistically significant (P=0.02) at the ≥50% level of IOP reduction. An IOP ≤18 mmHg was reported in 92.6% of eyes (87/94) in the iStent inject group and 89.8% of eyes (88/98) in the medical therapy group. Mean (standard deviation) IOP decreases from screening of 8.1 (2.6) mmHg and 7.3 (2.2) mmHg were reported in the iStent inject and medical therapy groups, respectively. A high safety profile was also noted in this study in both the iStent inject and medical therapy groups, as measured by stable best corrected visual acuity, cup-to-disc ratio, and adverse events.
These data show that the use of iStent inject is at least as effective as two medications, with the clinical benefit of reducing medication burden and assuring continuous treatment with full compliance to implant therapy as well as having a highly favorable safety profile.
PMCID: PMC4019628  PMID: 24855336
ab interno; intraocular pressure; trabecular bypass; OAG; IOP reduction

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