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1.  Insights in Behavior of Variably Formulated Alginate-Based Microcapsules for Cell Transplantation 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:965804.
Alginate-based microencapsulation of live cells may offer the opportunity to treat chronic and degenerative disorders. So far, a thorough assessment of physical-chemical behavior of alginate-based microbeads remains cloudy. A disputed issue is which divalent cation to choose for a high performing alginate gelling process. Having selected, in our system, high mannuronic (M) enriched alginates, we studied different gelling cations and their combinations to determine their eventual influence on physical-chemical properties of the final microcapsules preparation, in vitro and in vivo. We have shown that used of ultrapure alginate allows for high biocompatibility of the formed microcapsules, regardless of gelation agents, while use of different gelling cations is associated with corresponding variable effects on the capsules' basic architecture, as originally reported in this work. However, only the final application which the capsules are destined to will ultimately guide the selection of the ideal, specific gelling divalent cations, since in principle there are no capsules that are better than others.
PMCID: PMC4452837  PMID: 26078974
2.  Non-Invasive Prenatal RHD Genotyping Using Cell-Free Fetal DNA from Maternal Plasma: An Italian Experience 
This study assessed the diagnostic accuracy of a non-invasive approach to fetal RHD genotyping using cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma and a combination of methodological strategies.
Real-time PCR (qPCR) was performed on 216 RhD-negative women between weeks 10+0 and 14+6 of gestation (1st qPCR). qPCR was repeated (2nd qPCR) to increase the amount of each sample for analysis, on 95 plasma aliquots that were available from first trimester blood collection (group 1) and on 13 samples that were collected between weeks 18+0 and 25+6 of gestation (group 2). qPCR was specific for exons 5 and 7 of the RHD gene (RHD5 and RHD7). The results were interpreted according to the number of positive replicates of both exons.
1st qPCR: diagnostic accuracy was of 93.3%. Diagnostic accuracy increased from 90.5% (1st qPCR) to 93.7% (2nd qPCR) in group 1 and from 84.6% (1st qPCR) to 92.3% (2nd qPCR) in group 2. These increments were not statistically significant.
Our approach to RHD genotyping in early pregnancy yielded high diagnostic accuracy. Increasing the amount of DNA analyzed in each sample did not improve significantly the diagnostic accuracy of the test.
PMCID: PMC4404929  PMID: 25960712
Fetal DNA; Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn; Prenatal RHD genotyping
3.  Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody titer predicts time to rheumatoid arthritis onset in patients with undifferentiated arthritis: results from a 2-year prospective study 
The diagnostic, predictive and prognostic role of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is widely accepted. Moreover, detection of these antibodies in subjects presenting with undifferentiated arthritis (UA) is associated with a significant risk to develop the disease. On the other hand, clinical and prognostic significance of evaluating anti-CCP levels in subjects with inflammatory arthritis at disease onset has not been fully clarified. The goal of this prospective study is to analyze the value and prognostic significance of anti-CCP titer quantification in UA subjects.
Serial anti-CCP assays were measured in 192 consecutive patients presenting with UA lasting less than 12 weeks. Clinical and serological data and arthritis outcome were evaluated every 6 months until two years of follow-up.
Anti-CCP positivity, at both low and high titer, and arthritis of hand joints significantly predicted RA at two years, risk increasing in subjects with high anti-CCP titers at baseline. Moreover, time to RA diagnosis was shorter in patients with high anti-CCP2 titers at enrollment with respect to those with low antibody concentration.
Presence of anti-CCP antibodies, at both low and high concentration, is significantly associated with RA development in subjects with recent onset UA. However, time interval from the onset of the first symptoms to the fulfilment of the classification criteria appears to be directly related to the initial anti-CCP level.
PMCID: PMC3672733  PMID: 23339296
4.  Pelvic Organ Prolapse Repair with and without Concomitant Burch Colposuspension in Incontinent Women: A Randomised Controlled Trial with at Least 5-Year Followup 
The aim of this study was to reevaluate and update the followup of a previously published randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the impact of Burch Colposuspension (BC), as an anti-incontinence procedure, in patients with UI and POP, who underwent POP repair. Forty-seven women were randomly assigned to abdominal POP repair and concomitant BC (24 patients; group A) or POP repair alone without any anti-incontinence procedure (23 patients; group B). Median followup was 82 months (range 60–107); from over 47 patients, 30 reached 6-year followup. Two patients were lost at followup. In group A, 2 patients showed a stage I rectocele. In group B, 2 patients had a stage I rectocele and 1 a stage II rectocele. In group A, 13/23 (56.5%) were still incontinent after surgery compared with 9/22 patients (40.9%) in group B (P = 0.298). No significant changes were observed between the first and the current followup. The update of long-term followup confirmed that BC did not improve outcome significantly in incontinent women when they undergo POP repair.
PMCID: PMC3199042  PMID: 22028719
5.  Inflammatory Adipokines, High Molecular Weight Adiponectin, and Insulin Resistance: A Population-Based Survey in Prepubertal Schoolchildren 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17264.
The aim of this study was to investigate sex differences and associations of high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin, leptin and proinflammatory adipokines, individually or in combinations, with adiposity and insulin resistance (IR) measures in prepubertal childhood.
We studied 305 prepubertal children (boys/girls: 144/161; Tanner stage 1; age: 5-13 yr), included in a cohort of 44,231 adolescents who participated in an extensive Italian school-based survey. According to Cole's criteria, 105 individuals were lean (L; boys/girls: 59/46), 60 overweight (OW; boys/girls: 32/28) and 140 obese (OB; boys/girls: 70/70). Measurements comprised total and HMW adiponectin, leptin, as well as a panel of proinflammatory adipokines/chemokines associated with diabetes risk.
Principal Findings
Leptin-, and the leptin-to-HMW adiponectin ratio (L/HMW)-, increased progressively (p<0.0001) from L to OW to OB boys and girls. When compared with L peers, OW and OB girls exhibited lower (p<0.001) HMW adiponectin levels, while in boys the HMW multimers did not differ significantly across the BMI-stratified groups. OB girls displayed higher (p<0.05) IL-8, IL-18, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 levels (sICAM-1) than L girls, whereas increased macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) concentrations in OB vs OW boys were seen. HMW adiponectin (negatively), leptin or inflammatory markers (positively) correlated with adiposity and IR measures. In multivariate models, leptin represented a strong and independent determinant of HOMA-IR (R2 0.378; p<0.01). Adjustment for age, BMIz-score, lipids and inflammatory mediators abolished the association between leptin and HOMA-IR in boys, while in girls leptin remained still a significant predictor of IR (R2 0.513; p<0.01). Finally, in both sexes, the joint effect of the L/HMW did not improve the prediction of basal IR as compared with leptin levels alone, which were mainly explained by the BMIz-score.
In prepubertal children, leptin emerges as a sex-independent discrimination marker of adiposity degree and as a useful, sex-associated predictor of the systemic insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3041818  PMID: 21365005

Results 1-5 (5)