The non-canonical NF-κB activating kinase IKKα, encoded by CHUK (conserved-helix-loop-helix-ubiquitous-kinase), has been reported to modulate pro- or anti- inflammatory responses, cellular survival and cellular differentiation. Here, we have investigated the mechanism of action of IKKα as a novel effector of human and murine chondrocyte extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis and differentiation towards hypertrophy.
IKKα expression was ablated in primary human osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes and in immature murine articular chondrocytes (iMACs) derived from IKKαf/f:CreERT2 mice by retroviral-mediated stable shRNA transduction and Cre recombinase-dependent Lox P site recombination, respectively. MMP-10 was identified as a major target of IKKα in chondrocytes by mRNA profiling, quantitative RT-PCR analysis, immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. ECM integrity, as assessed by type II collagen (COL2) deposition and the lack of MMP-dependent COL2 degradation products, was enhanced by IKKα ablation in mice. MMP-13 and total collagenase activities were significantly reduced, while TIMP-3 (tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3) protein levels were enhanced in IKKα-deficient chondrocytes. IKKα deficiency suppressed chondrocyte differentiation, as shown by the quantitative inhibition of.Alizarin red staining and the reduced expression of multiple chondrocyte differentiation effectors, including Runx2, Col10a1 and Vegfa,. Importantly, the differentiation of IKKα-deficient chondrocytes was rescued by a kinase-dead IKKα protein mutant.
IKKα acts independent of its kinase activity to help drive chondrocyte differentiation towards a hypertrophic-like state. IKKα positively modulates ECM remodeling via multiple downstream targets (including MMP-10 and TIMP-3 at the mRNA and post-transcriptional levels, respectively) to maintain maximal MMP-13 activity, which is required for ECM remodeling leading to chondrocyte differentiation. Chondrocytes are the unique cell component in articular cartilage, which are quiescent and maintain ECM integrity during tissue homeostasis. In OA, chondrocytes reacquire the capacity to proliferate and differentiate and their activation results in pronounced cartilage degeneration. Τηυσ, our findings are also of potential relevance for defining the onset and/or progression of OA disease.
To link MMP-13 activity and ECM remodeling to alterations in regulatory factors leading to a disruption in chondrocyte homeostasis.
Matrix-metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) expression was ablated in primary human chondrocytes by stable retrotransduction of short-hairpin RNAs. The effects of MMP-13 KD on key regulators of chondrocyte differentiation (Sox9, Runx2 and β-catenin), and angiogenesis (VEGF) were scored at the protein (immunohistochemistry or western blot) and RNA (real time PCR) levels in high density monolayer and micromass cultures under mineralizing conditions. Effects on cellular viability in conjunction with chondrocyte progression towards a hypertrophic-like state were assessed in micromass cultures. Alterations in Sox9 subcellular distribution were assessed by confocal microscopy in micromass cultures and also in OA cartilage.
Differentiation of control chondrocyte micromasses progressed up to a terminal phase, with calcium deposition in conjunction with reduced cell viability and scant ECM. MMP-13 knock-down (KD) impaired ECM remodeling and suppressed differentiation in conjunction with reduced levels of Runx2, β-catenin and VEGF. MMP-13 levels in vitro and ECM remodeling in vitro and in vivo were linked to changes in Sox9 sub-cellular localization. Sox9 was largely excluded from the nuclei of chondrocytes with MMP-13 remodeled or degraded ECM, and exhibited an intranuclear staining pattern in chondrocytes with impaired MMP-13 activity in vitro or with more intact ECM in vivo.
MMP-13 loss leads to a break-down in primary human articular chondrocyte differentiation by altering the expression of multiple regulatory factors.
MMP-13; ECM remodeling; osteoarthritis; differentiation; shRNA retrovirus
Osteoarthritic chondrocytes behave in an intrinsically de-regulated manner characterized by the chronic loss of healthy cartilage and inappropriate differentiation to a hypertrophic-like state. IKKβ and IKKα are essential kinases that activate NF-κB transcription factors, which regulate cellular differentiation and inflammation. This study reveals differential roles for each IKK in chondrocyte differentiation and hypertrophy.
Expression of IKKα or IKKβ were ablated in primary human chondrocytes by retro-transduction of specific shRNAs. Micromass cultures that faithfully undergo chondrogenesis to the terminal hypertrophic stage were established and ECM anabolism and remodelling were investigated by biochemical, immunohistochemical and ultrastructural techniques. Cellular parameters of hypertrophy (i.e. proliferation, viability and size) were also analyzed.
Extracellular matrix remodelling and mineralization, processes characteristic of terminally differentiated hypertrophic cells, were defective upon IKKα or IKKβ loss. Silencing IKKβ markedly enhanced glycosaminoglycan accumulation, in conjunction with increased Sox9 expression. IKKα ablation dramatically enhanced Col2 deposition independent of Sox9 protein levels but instead in association with RUNX-2 suppression. Moreover IKKα deficient cells retained the phenotypes of pre-hypertrophic-like cells as evidenced by their smaller size and faster proliferation prior to micromass seeding along with the enhanced viability of their differentiated micromasses.
IKKα and IKKβ exert differential roles in ECM remodeling and endochondral ossification, events characteristic of hypertrophic chondrocytes and also factors often complicating osteoarthritis. Because IKKα's effects were more profound and pleotrophic in nature our observations suggest that exacerbated IKKα activity may be responsible for at least part of the characteristic abnormal phenotypes of osteoarthritic chondrocytes.
NF-κB; IKKs; osteoarthritis; chondrocytes; shRNA retroviruses
The activation of the NF-κB pathway by pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), can be an important contributor for the re-programming of chondrocyte gene expression, thereby making it a therapeutic target in articular diseases. To search for new approaches to limit cartilage damage, we investigated the requirement of polyamines for NF-κB activation by TNFα in human C-28/I2 chondrocytes, using α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a specific polyamine biosynthesis inhibitor. The NF-κB pathway was dissected by using pharmacological inhibitors or by expressing a transdominant IκBα super repressor. Treatment of C-28/I2 chondrocytes with TNFα resulted in a rapid enhancement of nuclear localization and DNA binding activity of the p65 NF-κB subunit. TNFα also increased the level and extracellular release of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a CXC chemokine that can have a role in arthritis, in an NF-κB-dependent manner. Pre-treatment of chondrocytes with DFMO, while causing polyamine depletion, significantly reduced NF-κB DNA binding activity. Moreover DFMO also decreased IL-8 production without affecting cellular viability. Restoration of polyamine levels by the co-addition of putrescine circumvented the inhibitory effects of DFMO. Our results show that the intracellular depletion of polyamines inhibits the response of chondrocytes to TNFα by interfering with the DNA binding activity of NF-κB. This suggests that a pharmacological and/or genetic approach to deplete the polyamine pool in chondrocytes may represent a useful way to reduce NF-κB activation by inflammatory cytokines in arthritis without provoking chondrocyte apoptosis.
Chondrocytes; Interleukin-8; NF-κB; Polyamines; Tumor necrosis factor-α
Mesenchymal stromal cells are emerging as an extremely promising therapeutic agent for tissue regeneration due to their multi-potency, immune-modulation and secretome activities, but safety remains one of the main concerns, particularly when in vitro manipulation, such as cell expansion, is performed before clinical application. Indeed, it is well documented that in vitro expansion reduces replicative potential and some multi-potency and promotes cell senescence. Furthermore, during in vitro aging there is a decrease in DNA synthesis and repair efficiency thus leading to DNA damage accumulation and possibly inducing genomic instability. The European Research Project ADIPOA aims at validating an innovative cell-based therapy where autologous adipose stromal cells (ASCs) are injected in the diseased articulation to activate regeneration of the cartilage. The primary objective of this paper was to assess the safety of cultured ASCs. The maintenance of genetic integrity was evaluated during in vitro culture by karyotype and microsatellite instability analysis. In addition, RT-PCR array-based evaluation of the expression of genes related to DNA damage signaling pathways was performed. Finally, the senescence and replicative potential of cultured cells was evaluated by telomere length and telomerase activity assessment, whereas anchorage-independent clone development was tested in vitro by soft agar growth. We found that cultured ASCs do not show genetic alterations and replicative senescence during the period of observation, nor anchorage-independent growth, supporting an argument for the safety of ASCs for clinical use.
This paper addresses the problem of identifying the parameters involved in the formation of spatial patterns in nonlinear two dimensional systems. To this aim, we perform numerical experiments on a prototypical model generating morphogenetic Turing patterns, by changing both the spatial frequency and shape of the patterns. The features of the patterns and their relationship with the model parameters are characterized by means of the Generalized Recurrence Quantification measures. We show that the recurrence measures Determinism and Recurrence Entropy, as well as the distribution of the line lengths, allow for a full characterization of the patterns in terms of power law decay with respect to the parameters involved in the determination of their spatial frequency and shape. A comparison with the standard two dimensional Fourier transform is performed and the results show a better performance of the recurrence indicators in identifying a reliable connection with the spatial frequency of the patterns. Finally, in order to evaluate the robustness of the estimation of the power low decay, extensive simulations have been performed by adding different levels of noise to the patterns.
Penile cancer (PC) is a rare tumor, and therapeutic options are limited for this disease, with an overall 5-year overall survival around 65-70%. Adjuvant therapy is not recommended for patients with N0-1 disease, despite up to 60% of these patients will die within 5 years from diagnosis.
Medical records of all patients who underwent radical surgery at University Federico II of Naples and at National Tumor Institute “Pascale” of Naples for early squamous cell carcinoma of the penis from January, 2000 to December, 2011 were retrieved. Paraffin wax embedded tissue specimens were retrieved from the pathology archives of the participating Institutions for all patients. Expression of p-EGFR, EGFR and positivity to HPV were evaluated along with other histological variables of interest. Demographic data of eligible patients were retrieved along with clinical characteristics such as type of surgical operation, time of follow up, time of recurrence, overall survival. A multivariable model was constructed using a forward stepwise selection procedure.
Thirty eligible patients were identified. All patients were positive for EGFR by immunohistochemistry, while 13 and 16 were respectively positive for nuclear and cytosolic p-EGFR. No EGFR amplification was detected by FISH. Eight patients were positive for high-risk HPV by ISH. On univariable analysis, corpora cavernosa infiltration (OR 7.8; 95% CI = 0,8 to 75,6; P = 0,039) and positivity for cytosolic p-EGFR (OR 7.6; 95% CI =1.49 to 50; P = 0.009) were predictive for recurrence, while only positivity for cytosolic p-EGFR (HR =9.0; 95% CI 1.0-100; P = 0,0116) was prognostic for poor survival.
It is of primary importance to identify patients with N0-1 disease who are at increased risk of recurrence, as they do not normally receive any adjuvant therapy. Expression of p-EGFR was found in this series to be strongly related to increase risk of recurrence and shorter overall survival. This finding is consistent with the role of p-EGFR in other solid malignancies. Integration of p-EGFR with classic prognostic factors and other histology markers should be pursued to establish optimal adjuvant therapy for N0-1 PC patients.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression; Phospo-EGFR; Immunohistochemistry; Penile cancer; Tissue micro-array (TMA)
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are pluripotent adult stem cells capable of being differentiated into osteoblasts, adipocytes, and chondrocytes. The osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs is regulated either by systemic hormones or by local growth factors able to induce specific intracellular signal pathways that modify the expression and activity of several transcription factors. Runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2) and Wnt signaling-related molecules are the major factors critically involved in the osteogenic differentiation process by hMSCs, and SRY-related high-mobility-group (HMG) box transcription factor 9 (SOX9) is involved in the chondrogenic one. hMSCs have generated a great interest in the field of regenerative medicine, particularly in bone regeneration. In this paper, we focused our attention on the molecular mechanisms involved in osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation of hMSC, and the potential clinical use of hMSCs in osteoarticular pediatric disease characterized by fracture nonunion and pseudarthrosis.
Cognitive deficits may occur early in Parkinson's disease (PD) but the extent of cortical involvement associated with cognitive dysfunction needs additional investigations. The aim of our study is to identify the anatomical pattern of cortical thickness alterations in patients with early stage PD and its relationship with cognitive disability.
We recruited 29 PD patients and 21 healthy controls. All PD patients performed an extensive neuropsychological examination and 14 were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI). Surface-based cortical thickness analysis was applied to investigate the topographical distribution of cortical and subcortical alterations in early PD compared with controls and to assess the relationship between cognition and regional cortical changes in PD-MCI.
Overall PD patients showed focal cortical (occipital-parietal areas, orbito-frontal and olfactory areas) and subcortical thinning when compared with controls. PD-MCI showed a wide spectrum of cognitive deficits and related significant regional thickening in the right parietal-frontal as well as in the left temporal-occipital areas.
Our results confirm the presence of changes in grey matter thickness at relatively early PD stage and support previous studies showing thinning and atrophy in the neocortex and subcortical regions. Relative cortical thickening in PD-MCI may instead express compensatory neuroplasticity. Brain reserve mechanisms might first modulate cognitive decline during the initial stages of PD.
Among the pharmaceutical options available for treatment of ovarian cancer, increasing attention has been progressively focused on pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD), whose unique formulation prolongs the persistence of the drug in the circulation and potentiates intratumor accumulation. Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) has become a major component in the routine management of epithelial ovarian cancer. In 1999 it was first approved for platinum-refractory ovarian cancer and then received full approval for platinum-sensitive recurrent disease in 2005. PLD remains an important therapeutic tool in the management of recurrent ovarian cancer in 2012. Recent interest in PLD/carboplatin combination therapy has been the object of phase III trials in platinum-sensitive and chemonaïve ovarian cancer patients reporting response rates, progressive-free survival, and overall survival similar to other platinum-based combinations, but with a more favorable toxicity profile and convenient dosing schedule. This paper summarizes data clarifying the role of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) in ovarian cancer, as well as researches focusing on adding novel targeted drugs to this cytotoxic agent.
Cell therapy is a rapidly growing area of research for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). This work is aimed to investigate the efficacy of intra-articular adipose-derived stromal cell (ASC) injection in the healing process on cartilage, synovial membrane and menisci in an experimental rabbit model.
The induction of OA was performed surgically through bilateral anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) to achieve eight weeks from ACLT a mild grade of OA. A total of 2 × 106 and 6 × 106 autologous ASCs isolated from inguinal fat, expanded in vitro and suspended in 4% rabbit serum albumin (RSA) were delivered in the hind limbs; 4% RSA was used as the control. Local bio-distribution of the cells was verified by injecting chloro-methyl-benzamido-1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3'3'-tetra-methyl-indo-carbocyanine per-chlorate (CM-Dil) labeled ASCs in the hind limbs. Cartilage and synovial histological sections were scored by Laverty's scoring system to assess the severity of the pathology. Protein expression of some extracellular matrix molecules (collagen I and II), catabolic (metalloproteinase-1 and -3) and inflammatory (tumor necrosis factor- α) markers were detected by immunohistochemistry. Assessments were carried out at 16 and 24 weeks.
Labeled-ASCs were detected unexpectedly in the synovial membrane and medial meniscus but not in cartilage tissue at 3 and 20 days from ASC-treatment. Intra-articular ASC administration decreases OA progression and exerts a healing contribution in the treated animals in comparison to OA and 4% RSA groups.
Our data reveal a healing capacity of ASCs in promoting cartilage and menisci repair and attenuating inflammatory events in synovial membrane inhibiting OA progression. On the basis of the local bio-distribution findings, the benefits obtained by ASC treatment could be due to a trophic mechanism of action by the release of growth factors and cytokines.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are located in the bone marrow in a specific microenvironment referred as the hematopoietic stem cell niche, where HSCs interact with a variety of stromal cells. Though several components of the stem cell niche have been identified, the regulatory mechanisms through which such components regulate the stem cell fate are still unknown. In order to address this issue, we investigated how osteoblasts (OBs) can affect the molecular and functional phenotype of Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells (HSPCs) and vice versa. For this purpose, human CD34+ cells were cultured in direct contact with primary human OBs. Our data showed that CD34+ cells cultured with OBs give rise to higher total cell numbers, produce more CFUs and maintain a higher percentage of CD34+CD38- cells compared to control culture. Moreover, clonogenic assay and long-term culture results showed that co-culture with OBs induces a strong increase in mono/macrophage precursors coupled to a decrease in the erythroid ones. Finally, gene expression profiling (GEP) allowed us to study which signalling pathways were activated in the hematopoietic cell fraction and in the stromal cell compartment after coculture. Such analysis allowed us to identify several cytokine-receptor networks, such as WNT pathway, and transcription factors, as TWIST1 and FOXC1, that could be activated by co-culture with OBs and could be responsible for the biological effects reported above. Altogether our results indicate that OBs are able to affect HPSCs on 2 different levels: on one side, they increase the immature progenitor pool in vitro, on the other side, they favor the expansion of the mono/macrophage precursors at the expense of the erythroid lineage.
Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are a diverse group of biologically active specialized metabolites produced mainly in four plant families. BIA metabolism is likely of monophyletic origin and involves multiple enzymes yielding structurally diverse compounds. Several BIAs possess defensive properties against pathogenic microorganisms and herbivores. Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum: Papaveraceae) has emerged as a model system to investigate the cellular localization of BIA biosynthesis. Although alkaloids accumulate in the laticifer cytoplasm (latex) of opium poppy, corresponding biosynthetic enzymes and gene transcripts are localized to proximal sieve elements and companion cells, respectively. In contrast, BIA metabolism in the non-laticiferous meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum; Ranunculaceae) occurs independent of the phloem. Evidence points toward the adoption of diverse strategies for the biosynthesis and accumulation of alkaloids as defensive compounds. Recruitment of cell types involved in BIA metabolism, both within and external to the phloem, was likely driven by selection pressures unique to different taxa. The biochemistry, cell biology, ecophysiology, and evolution of BIA metabolism are considered in this context.
benzylisoquinoline alkaloid; phloem; laticifer; sieve element; plant defense
Purpose. To determine whether the presence of cognitive impairment (CI) affects physical recovery of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) undergoing a cardiac rehabilitation program (CRP). Methods. We enrolled 80 CHF patients (M/F = 53/27). CI was evaluated by means of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), exercise tolerance was evaluated by six-minute walking test (6 mwt). All patients underwent a 6-week CRP program at 50–70% of maximal VO2. Patients were divided into two groups according to their MMSE (group 1: 16–23; group 2: 24–30). Results. MMSE resulted directly related to ejection fraction (r = 0.42; P = 0.03), and it was inversely related to creatinine (r = −0.36; P = 0.04). At 6 week group 1 had a lower increase in distance walked at 6 MWT than group 2 (P = 0.008). At multivariate logistic regression MMSE 16–23 predicted a reduced exercise recovery in the overall population (OR = 1.84; 95% CI = 1.50–2.18) and in women (OR = 1.42; 95% CI = 1.22–1.75), while it was not predicted in males. Conclusions. CI is a marker of advanced CHF and is an independent predictor of lower exercise recovery after CRP.
Mutations in genes encoding nuclear envelope proteins, particularly LMNA encoding the A-type lamins, cause a broad range of diverse diseases, referred to as laminopathies. The astonishing variety of diseased phenotypes suggests that different mechanisms could be involved in the pathogenesis of laminopathies. In this review we will focus mainly on two of these pathogenic mechanisms: the nuclear damages affecting the chromatin organization, and the oxidative stress causing un-repairable DNA damages. Alteration in the nuclear profile and in chromatin organization, which are particularly impressive in systemic laminopathies whose cells undergo premature senescence, are mainly due to accumulation of unprocessed prelamin A. The toxic effect of these molecular species, which interfere with chromatin-associated proteins, transcription factors, and signaling pathways, could be reduced by drugs which reduce their farnesylation and/or stability. In particular, inhibitors of farnesyl transferase (FTIs), have been proved to be active in rescuing the altered cellular phenotype, and statins, also in association with other drugs, have been included into pilot clinical trials. The identification of a mechanism that accounts for accumulation of unrepairable DNA damage due to reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in laminopathic cells, similar to that found in other muscular dystrophies (MDs) caused by altered expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) components, suggests that anti-oxidant therapeutic strategies might prove beneficial to laminopathic patients.
laminopathies; nuclear envelope; chromatin; muscular dystrophies; progeria; oxidative stress; DNA damage.
Vertebral metastases are associated with significant pain, disability, and morbidity. Open surgery for fracture stabilization is often inappropriate in this population due to a poor risk-benefit profile, particularly if life expectancy is short. Percutaneous vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are appealing adjunctive procedures in patients with malignancy for alleviation of intractable pain. However, these patients have higher risk of serious complications, notably cement extravasation. Described in this report is a case of a painful osteolytic vertebral metastasis that was successfully treated by a novel percutaneous vertebral augmentation system.
A 42-year-old Caucasian female presented with a history of metastatic lung cancer unresponsive to radiation and chemotherapy with symptoms inadequately controlled by opiates over the previous 6 months. Magnetic resonance imaging and spiral computed tomography with two-dimensional reconstruction showed an osteolytic vertebral metastasis with complete involvement of the T10 vertebral body, extending to the cortical vertebral wall anteriorly and posteriorly. The patient was treated with percutaneous vertebral augmentation (Kiva® VCF Treatment System, Benvenue Medical, Inc, Santa Clara, CA) utilizing a novel coil-shaped polyetheretherketone implant designed to minimize the risk of cement extravasation. After the minimally invasive procedure, bone cement distribution within the vertebral body was ideal, with no observed cement extravasation. No complications were reported, pain completely resolved within 24 hours, and use of intravenous narcotics was progressively diminished within 1 week. Complete pain relief was maintained throughout 4 months of follow-up.
The Kiva System represents a novel and effective minimally invasive treatment option for patients suffering from severe pain due to osteolytic vertebral metastasis.
Kiva; minimally invasive; pain
Apoptosis is a programmed cell death that plays a critical role in cell homeostasis. In particular, apoptosis in cardiomyocytes is involved in several cardiovascular diseases including heart failure. Recently autophagy has emerged as an important modulator of programmed cell death pathway. Recent evidence indicates that saturated fatty acids induce cell death through apoptosis and this effect is specific for palmitate. On the other hand, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been implicated in the protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiac ischemic damage and myocardial dysfunction. In the present study we show that n-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) treatment to culture medium of H9c2 rat cardiomyoblasts protects cells against palmitate-induced apoptosis, as well as counteracts palmitate-mediated increase of autophagy. Further investigation is required to establish whether the antiautophagic effect of EPA may be involved in its cytoprotective outcome and to explore the underlying biochemical mechanisms through which palmitate and EPA control the fate of cardiac cells.
eicosapentaenoic acid; palmitic acid; apoptosis; autophagy; H9c2 cardiomyoblasts
Deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE) can affect importantly patients' quality of life (QOL). The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the laparoscopic management of DIE on QOL after six months from treatment.
It is a prospective cohort study. In a tertiary care university hospital, between April 2008 and December 2009, 100 patients underwent laparoscopic management of DIE and completed preoperatively and 6-months postoperatively a QOL questionnaire, the short form 36 (SF-36).
Quality of life was measured through the SF-36 scores. Intra-operative details of disease site, number of lesions, type of intervention, period of hospital stay and peri-operative complications were noted.
Six months postoperatively all the women had a significant improvement in every scale of the SF-36 (p < 0,0005). Among patients with intestinal DIE, significant differences in postoperative scores of SF-36 were not detected between patients submitted to nodule shaving and segmental resection (p > 0.05). There was no significant difference in the SF-36 scores at 6 months from surgery between patients who received postoperative medical treatment and patients who did not (p > 0.05).
Laparoscopic excision of DIE lesions significantly improves general health and psycho-emotional status at six months from surgery without differences between patients submitted to intestinal segmental resection or intestinal nodule shaving.
Khat (Catha edulis Forsk.) is a flowering perennial shrub cultivated for its neurostimulant properties resulting mainly from the occurrence of (S)-cathinone in young leaves. The biosynthesis of (S)-cathinone and the related phenylpropylamino alkaloids (1S,2S)-cathine and (1R,2S)-norephedrine is not well characterized in plants. We prepared a cDNA library from young khat leaves and sequenced 4,896 random clones, generating an expressed sequence tag (EST) library of 3,293 unigenes. Putative functions were assigned to > 98% of the ESTs, providing a key resource for gene discovery. Candidates potentially involved at various stages of phenylpropylamino alkaloid biosynthesis from L-phenylalanine to (1S,2S)-cathine were identified.
khat; (S)-cathinone; phenylpropylamino alkaloids biosynthesis; EST library; gene discovery
How to assess the impact of research is of growing interest to funders, policy makers and researchers mainly to understand the value of investments and to increase accountability. Broadly speaking the term "research impact" refers to the contribution of research activities to achieve desired societal outcomes. The aim of this overview is to identify the most common approaches to research impact assessment, categories of impact and their respective indicators.
We systematically searched the relevant literature (PubMed, The Cochrane Library (1990-2009)) and funding agency websites. We included systematic reviews, theoretical and methodological papers, and empirical case-studies on how to evaluate research impact. We qualitatively summarised the included reports, as well the conceptual frameworks.
We identified twenty-two reports belonging to four systematic reviews and 14 primary studies. These publications reported several theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches (bibliometrics, econometrics, ad hoc case studies). The "payback model" emerged as the most frequently used. Five broad categories of impact were identified: a) advancing knowledge, b) capacity building, c) informing decision-making, d) health benefits, e) broad socio-economic benefits. For each proposed category of impact we summarized a set of indicators whose pros and cons are presented and briefly discussed.
This overview is a comprehensive, yet descriptive, contribution to summarize the conceptual framework and taxonomy of an heterogeneous and evolving area of research. A shared and comprehensive conceptual framework does not seem to be available yet and its single components (epidemiologic, economic, and social) are often valued differently in different models.
Research governance; Research impact; Health research; Bibliometrics
We describe a fatal case of myopericarditis presenting with cardiac tamponade in a previously healthy 11-year-old child. Pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza A virus sequences were identified in throat and myocardial tissues and pericardial fluid, suggesting damage of myocardial cells directly caused by the virus.
We report a case of female adnexal tumor of Wolffian origin (FATWO), a rare neoplasm arising from the mesonephric ducts. A 48-year-old woman came first to our center for a recent discovery of a pelvic mass. Transvaginal ultrasonographic findings suggested a solid right para-ovarian mass suspected to be malignant. After thorough counseling, the patient underwent operative laparoscopy for excision of the para-ovarian mass with frozen section (FS) examination resulting in the diagnosis of a poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. In this case, FS results allowed performing a comprehensive oncological staging, through a totally laparoscopic extrafascial hysterectomy, bilateral adnexectomy, total omentectomy, pelvic wall peritonectomy, and pelvic, parasacral and para-aortic lymphadenectomy. Final pathological and immunohistochemical results confirmed the diagnosis of FATWO. To our knowledge, this is the first case of FATWO managed entirely by a minimally invasive laparoscopic approach in a single surgical session.
Adnexal mass; Frozen sections; Gynecological oncology; Laparoscopy; Minimally invasive approach; Ultrasound; Wolffian tumor
Papaver somniferum (opium poppy) is the source for several pharmaceutical benzylisoquinoline alkaloids including morphine, the codeine and sanguinarine. In response to treatment with a fungal elicitor, the biosynthesis and accumulation of sanguinarine is induced along with other plant defense responses in opium poppy cell cultures. The transcriptional induction of alkaloid metabolism in cultured cells provides an opportunity to identify components of this process via the integration of deep transcriptome and proteome databases generated using next-generation technologies.
A cDNA library was prepared for opium poppy cell cultures treated with a fungal elicitor for 10 h. Using 454 GS-FLX Titanium pyrosequencing, 427,369 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) with an average length of 462 bp were generated. Assembly of these sequences yielded 93,723 unigenes, of which 23,753 were assigned Gene Ontology annotations. Transcripts encoding all known sanguinarine biosynthetic enzymes were identified in the EST database, 5 of which were represented among the 50 most abundant transcripts. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) of total protein extracts from cell cultures treated with a fungal elicitor for 50 h facilitated the identification of 1,004 proteins. Proteins were fractionated by one-dimensional SDS-PAGE and digested with trypsin prior to LC-MS/MS analysis. Query of an opium poppy-specific EST database substantially enhanced peptide identification. Eight out of 10 known sanguinarine biosynthetic enzymes and many relevant primary metabolic enzymes were represented in the peptide database.
The integration of deep transcriptome and proteome analyses provides an effective platform to catalogue the components of secondary metabolism, and to identify genes encoding uncharacterized enzymes. The establishment of corresponding transcript and protein databases generated by next-generation technologies in a system with a well-defined metabolite profile facilitates an improved linkage between genes, enzymes, and pathway components. The proteome database represents the most relevant alkaloid-producing enzymes, compared with the much deeper and more complete transcriptome library. The transcript database contained full-length mRNAs encoding most alkaloid biosynthetic enzymes, which is a key requirement for the functional characterization of novel gene candidates.
The plant enzyme pavine N-methyltransferase from T. flavum has been produced in E. coli, purified and crystallized and its structure has been solved.
A cDNA from the plant Thalictrum flavum encoding pavine N-methyltransferase, an enzyme belonging to a novel class of S-adenosylmethionine-dependent N-methyltransferases specific for benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, has been heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. The enzyme was purified using affinity and gel-filtration chromatography and was crystallized in space group P21. The structure was solved at 2.0 Å resolution using a xenon derivative and the single isomorphous replacement with anomalous scattering method.
pavine N-methyltransferase; Thalictrum flavum
Demethylases play a pivitol role in numerous biological processes from covalent histone modification and DNA repair to specialized metabolism in plants and microorganisms. Enzymes that catalyze O- and N-demethylation include 2-oxoglutarate (2OG)/Fe(II)-dependent dioxygenases, cytochromes P450, Rieske-domain proteins and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-dependent oxidases. Proposed mechanisms for demethylation by 2OG/Fe(II)-dependent enzymes involve hydroxylation at the O- or N-linked methyl group followed by formaldehyde elimination. Members of this enzyme family catalyze a wide variety of reactions in diverse plant metabolic pathways. Recently, we showed that 2OG/Fe(II)-dependent dioxygenases catalyze the unique O-demethylation steps of morphine biosynthesis in opium poppy, which provides a rational basis for the widespread occurrence of demethylases in benzylisoquinoline alkaloid metabolism.
O-demethylation; N-demethylation; 2-oxoglutarate/Fe(II)-dependent dioxygenase; benzylisoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis