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1.  Development of an in vitro Assay, Based on the BioFilm Ring Test®, for Rapid Profiling of Biofilm-Growing Bacteria 
Microbial biofilm represents a major virulence factor associated with chronic and recurrent infections. Pathogenic bacteria embedded in biofilms are highly resistant to environmental and chemical agents, including antibiotics and therefore difficult to eradicate. Thus, reliable tests to assess biofilm formation by bacterial strains as well as the impact of chemicals or antibiotics on biofilm formation represent desirable tools for a most effective therapeutic management and microbiological risk control. Current methods to evaluate biofilm formation are usually time-consuming, costly, and hardly applicable in the clinical setting. The aim of the present study was to develop and assess a simple and reliable in vitro procedure for the characterization of biofilm-producing bacterial strains for future clinical applications based on the BioFilm Ring Test® (BRT) technology. The procedure developed for clinical testing (cBRT) can provide an accurate and timely (5 h) measurement of biofilm formation for the most common pathogenic bacteria seen in clinical practice. The results gathered by the cBRT assay were in agreement with the traditional crystal violet (CV) staining test, according to the κ coefficient test (κ = 0.623). However, the cBRT assay showed higher levels of specificity (92.2%) and accuracy (88.1%) as compared to CV. The results indicate that this procedure offers an easy, rapid and robust assay to test microbial biofilm and a promising tool for clinical microbiology.
PMCID: PMC5030256  PMID: 27708625
biofilm; BioFilm Ring Test; crystal violet; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Klebsiella pneumonia; Staphylococcus aureus; Staphylococcus epidermidis; Ralstonia mannitolilytica
2.  Downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines in HTLV-1-infected T cells by Resveratrol 
Human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV-1) is a lymphotropic retrovirus associated to adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and to non-neoplastic inflammatory conditions affecting the central nervous system, lung or skin. The inflammatory disorders associated to HTLV-1 are mediated by different proinflammatory cytokines as IL-1α, IL-6, TNF-α. The release and the role of IL-17 is still debated. Aims of this study were to analyze IL-17 induction by HTLV-1 infection and to determine whether resveratrol (RES) is able to down regulate the pathway of cytokines production either in HTLV-1 chronically infected MT-2 cell line or in human CD4+ cells infected in vitro with HTLV-1.
MT-2 and HTLV-1 infected CD4+ cells were analyzed for proinflammatory cytokine production before or after RES treatment. The concentrations of IL-17, IL-1α, IL-6, and TNF-α were measured in cell culture supernatants by ELISA and SearchLight™ technology. The IL-17 mRNA expression was evaluated by RT-PCR. NF-kB activation was detected by non-radioactive, Electro Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA). HTLV-1 RNA expression was detected by Real-time-PCR (RQ-PCR).
We found that RES is capable of inducing a dose-dependent inhibition of IL-1α, IL-6 and TNF-α production in vitro and can down regulate the expression of IL-17 at both mRNA and protein levels in HTLV-1 infected cells. This effect was associated with a dose-dependent inhibition of the of the nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kB) activity. Conversely, RES did not apparently affect HTLV-1 proliferation.
These results support the anti-inflammatory properties of RES, suggesting that it might be a useful therapeutic agent for the treatment of HTLV-1 related inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC4957876  PMID: 27448598
Resveratrol; HTLV-1; Inflammatory cytokines
3.  Activation of DNA Damage Response Induced by the Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpes Virus 
The human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8), also known as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV), can infect endothelial cells often leading to cell transformation and to the development of tumors, namely Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and the plasmablastic variant of multicentric Castleman’s disease. KSHV is prevalent in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean region presenting distinct genotypes, which appear to be associated with differences in disease manifestation, according to geographical areas. In infected cells, KSHV persists in a latent episomal form. However, in a limited number of cells, it undergoes spontaneous lytic reactivation to ensure the production of new virions. During both the latent and the lytic cycle, KSHV is programmed to express genes which selectively modulate the DNA damage response (DDR) through the activation of the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) pathway and by phosphorylating factors associated with the DDR, including the major tumor suppressor protein p53 tumor suppressor p53. This review will focus on the interplay between the KSHV and the DDR response pathway throughout the viral lifecycle, exploring the putative molecular mechanism/s that may contribute to malignant transformation of host cells.
PMCID: PMC4926388  PMID: 27258263
DNA damage response; kaposi; sarcoma; tumor; skin; cancer
4.  A laboratory test based on determination of cytokine profiles: a promising assay to identify exposition to contact allergens and predict the clinical outcome in occupational allergic contact dermatitis 
BMC Immunology  2015;16:4.
Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is the main allergen causing adverse reactions to hair dyes and a frequent cause of occupational-related skin sensitization among hairdressers and beauticians. The immunologic mechanism of the disease relies on the production of inflammatory cytokines by allergen-specific T cells, while regulatory T cells are thought to down-modulate the allergic response. This study was aimed at investigating the expression of effector or regulatory cytokines in exposed subjects in order to verify whether different cytokine profiles might predict distinct clinical outcomes. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 21 subjects occupationally exposed or not (10) to PPD were kept in short term cultures in the presence of optimized concentrations of NiSO4 × 6H2O or PPD. The production of IFN-γ and IL-10 elicited by antigens were analyzed by the ELISpot assay.
The presence of IFN-γ responses toward PPD was significantly correlated with a positive patch test (P = 0.002) and allergic symptoms, while IL10 responses were invariably found in PPD-exposed but clinically asymptomatic subjects with negative patch testing. We found concordance between the different cytokine profiles and patch test results. No false-positive results were found for the different cytokine profiles induced by PPD, resulting in 100% specificity. The sensitivity of the test was 87.5% (95% CI 65.9-100.0) with an overall test accuracy of 93.3%. Although larger prospective-retrospective studies are necessary to validate the predictive potential of the test, the negative and positive predicted values for PPD in this study were NPV = 87.5% and PPV = 100%, respectively.
These data indicate that distinct cytokine profiles are associated with different clinical manifestations. The test, which is based on a simple and rapid profiling of cytokine responses by T lymphocytes against allergens, has proven to be a promising laboratory tool, useful for both the identification of previous contact with allergens and the etiologic diagnosis of contact allergies as well as capable of predicting the clinical outcome (development of an allergic or tolerant response).
PMCID: PMC4335538  PMID: 25651756
Allergic contact dermatitis; Cytokines; ELISpot; Nickel; Occupation; Para-phenylenediamine; Patch test
5.  Analysis of the ORFK1 hypervariable regions reveal distinct HHV-8 clustering in Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Kaposi’s cases 
Classical Kaposi’s Sarcoma (cKS) is a rare vascular tumor, which develops in subjects infected with Human Herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). Beside the host predisposing factors, viral genetic variants might possibly be related to disease development. The aim of this study was to identify HHV-8 variants in patients with cKS or in HHV-8 infected subjects either asymptomatic or with cKS-unrelated cutaneous lymphoproliferative disorders.
The VR1 and VR2 regions of the ORF K1 sequence were analyzed in samples (peripheral blood and/or lesional tissue) collected between 2000 and 2010 from 27 subjects with HHV-8 infection, established by the presence of anti-HHV-8 antibodies. On the basis of viral genotyping, a phylogenetic analysis and a time-scaled evaluation were performed.
Two main clades of HHV-8, corresponding to A and C subtypes, were identified. Moreover, for each subtype, two main clusters were found distinctively associated to cKS or non-cKS subjects. Selective pressure analysis showed twelve sites of the K1 coding gene (VR1 and VR2 regions) under positive selective pressure and one site under negative pressure.
Thus, present data suggest that HHV-8 genetic variants may influence the susceptibility to cKS in individuals with HHV-8 infection.
PMCID: PMC4311464  PMID: 25592960
HHV-8; Kaposi’s sarcoma; Phylogenesis; HHV-8 variants; Selective pressure
6.  Assessment of T Regulatory Cells and Expanded Profiling of Autoantibodies May Offer Novel Biomarkers for the Clinical Management of Systemic Sclerosis and Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease 
In order to identify disease biomarkers for the clinical and therapeutic management of autoimmune diseases such as systemic sclerosis (SSc) and undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD), we have explored the setting of peripheral T regulatory (T reg) cells and assessed an expanded profile of autoantibodies in patients with SSc, including either limited (lcSSc) or diffuse (dcSSc) disease, and in patients presenting with clinical signs and symptoms of UCTD. A large panel of serum antibodies directed towards nuclear, nucleolar, and cytoplasmic antigens, including well-recognized molecules as well as less frequently tested antigens, was assessed in order to determine whether different antibody profiles might be associated with distinct clinical settings. Beside the well-recognized association between lcSSc and anti-centromeric or dcSSC and anti-topoisomerase-I antibodies, we found a significative association between dcSSc and anti-SRP or anti-PL-7/12 antibodies. In addition, two distinct groups emerged on the basis of anti-RNP or anti-PM-Scl 75/100 antibody production among UCTD patients. The levels of T reg cells were significantly lower in patients with SSc as compared to patients with UCTD or to healthy controls; in patients with lcSSc, T reg cells were inversely correlated to disease duration, suggesting that their levels may represent a marker of disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3681301  PMID: 23818915
7.  Evaluation of antigen specific recognition and cell mediated cytotoxicity by a modified lysispot assay in a rat colon carcinoma model 
Antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes represent potent effector cells of the adaptive immune response against viruses as well as tumours. Therefore assays capable at exploring the generation and function of cytotoxic T lymphocytes represent an important objective for both clinical and experimental settings.
Here we show a simple and reproducible assay for the evaluation of antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes based on a LysiSpot technique for the simultaneous determination of antigen-specific IFN-γ production and assessment of tumor cytolysis. The assay was developed within an experimental model of colorectal carcinoma, induced by the colorectal tumor cell line DHD-K12 that induces tumors in BDIX rats and, in turn, elicits a tumor- specific immune response.
Using DHD-K12 cells transfected to express Escherichia coli β-galactosidase as target cells, and by the fine setting of spot colours detection, we have developed an in vitro assay that allows the recognition of cytotoxic T lymphocytes induced in BDIX rats as well as the assessment of anti-tumour cytotoxicity. The method highlighted that in the present experimental model the tumour antigen-specific immune response was bound to killing target cells in the proportion of 55%, while 45% of activated cells were not cytotoxic but released IFN-γ. Moreover in this model by an ELISPOT assay we demonstrated the specific recognition of a nonapeptide epitope called CSH-275 constitutionally express in DHD-K12 cells.
The assay proved to be highly sensitive and specific, detecting even low frequencies of cytotoxic/activated cells and providing the evaluation of cytokine-expressing T cells as well as the extent of cytotoxicity against the target cells as independent functions. This assay may represent an important tool to be adopted in experimental settings including the development of vaccines or immune therapeutic strategies
PMCID: PMC3395825  PMID: 22296726
LysiSpot; ELISpot; Tumor antigens; CTLs; BDIX rats; Colon cancer
8.  Molecular and Immunological Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus in Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis: Implications for Prophylaxis and Clinical Management 
S. aureus represents a critical cofactor in atopic dermatitis (AD). In this paper, the prevalence of S. aureus infection/colonization was evaluated in 117 children as well as in their cohabitants, in order to assess the value of S. aureus characterization in predicting disease onset and severity and in providing indications for prophylaxis. Results showed that children with AD as well as their cohabitants had a significantly greater incidence of S. aureus infection/colonization as compared to controls. The genetic characterization showed a virtual identity of the bacteria strains collected at different sites of the patients with those found in the cohabitants, suggesting both a direct transmission between the nasal reservoir and the lesions in the same atopic subject and a risk for reinfection within family cohabitants. These data stress the need of preliminary laboratory assessment and posttherapy control in both AD patients and their close contacts for effective S. aureus eradication.
PMCID: PMC3205653  PMID: 22110527
9.  Nickel, palladium and rhodium induced IFN-gamma and IL-10 production as assessed by in vitro ELISpot-analysis in contact dermatitis patients 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:19.
Recent attempts to diminish nickel use in most industrial products have led to an increasing utilization of alternative metal compounds for destinations such as the alloys used in orthopaedics, jewellery and dentistry. The present study was undertaken with the aim to evaluate the potential for an allergic response to nickel, palladium and rhodium on the basis of antigen-specific induction of inflammatory/regulatory cytokines, and to characterize, according to the cytokine profiles, the nature of simultaneous positive patch tests elicited in vivo.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 40 patients with different patch test results were kept in short term cultures in the presence of optimized concentrations of NiSO4 × 6H2O, PdCl2 and Rh(CH3COO)2. The production of IFN-γ and IL-10 elicited by metal compounds were analyzed by the ELISpot assay.
We found a specific IFN-γ response by PBMC upon in vitro stimulation with nickel or palladium in well recognized allergic individuals. All controls with a negative patch test to a metal salt showed an in vitro IL-10 response and not IFN-γ production when challenged with the same compound. Interestingly, all subjects with positive patch test to both nickel and palladium (group 3) showed an in vitro response characterized by the release of IFN-γ after nickel stimulation and production of IL-10 in response to palladium.
These results strongly suggest that the different cytokine profiles elicited in vitro reflect different immune responses which may lead to the control of the allergic responses or to symptomatic allergic contact dermatitis. The development of sensitive and specific in vitro assays based on the determination of the cytokine profiles in response to contact allergens may have important diagnostic and prognostic implications and may prove extremely useful in complementing the diagnostic limits of traditional patch testing.
PMCID: PMC2409297  PMID: 18482439
10.  Decreased levels of metalloproteinase-9 and angiogenic factors in skin lesions of patients with psoriatic arthritis after therapy with anti-TNF-α 
Inflammation represents an early and key event in the development of both the cutaneous psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Compelling evidences indicate that the production of TNF-α plays a central role in psoriasis by sustaining the inflammatory process in the skin as well as in the joints. Among the multiple effects produced by TNF-α on keratinocytes, the induction of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), a collagenase implicated in joint inflammatory arthritis which acts as an angiogenesis promoting factor, might represent a key mechanism in the pathogenesis of the disease. Aims of the present study were to investigate a) the role of MMP-9 in the development of psoriasis by assessing the presence of MMP-9 in lesional skin and in sera of psoriatic patients; b) the association of MMP-9 with the activity of the disease; c) the relationship between MMP-9 and TNF-α production.
Eleven psoriatic patients, clinically presenting joint symptoms associated to the cutaneous disease, were included in a therapeutic protocol based on the administration of anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody (Infliximab). Sera and skin biopsies were collected before treatment and after 6 weeks of therapy. Tissues were kept in short term cultures and production soluble mediators such as TNF-α, MMP-9, MMP-2, VEGF and E-Selectin, which include angiogenic molecules associated to the development of plaque psoriasis, were measured in the culture supernatants by immunoenzymatic assays (ng/ml or pg/ml per mg of tissue). MMP-9 concentrations were also measured in the sera. The cutaneous activity of disease was evaluated by the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI).
Clinical and laboratory assessment indicated that all but one patients had a significant improvement of the PASI score after three months of therapy. The clinical amelioration was associated to a significant decrease of MMP-9 (P = 0.017), TNF-α (P = 0.005) and E-selectin (P = 0.018) levels, spontaneously released by lesional biopsies before and after therapy. In addition, significant correlations were found between the PASI measurements and TNF-α (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.005), MMP-9 (r2 = 0.25, P = 0.017), E-selectin (r2 = 0.24, P = 0.018) production. MMP-9 levels were significantly correlated with those of TNF-α (r2 = 0.30, P = 0.008). A significant decrease of MMP-9 in the sera, associated to the clinical improvement was also found.
Our findings show the existence of a direct relationship between MMP-9 and TNF-α production strongly suggesting that MMP-9 may play a key role in the skin inflammatory process in psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC1601955  PMID: 17022813

Results 1-10 (10)