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1.  Renal Function and Ultrasound Imaging in Elderly Subjects 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:830649.
We evaluated in elderly subjects (a) the ability of GFR formulas to discriminate chronic kidney disease (CKD), (b) the correlation between renal morphology and function, and (c) the usefulness of combined r-US and GFR formulas to detect CKD. A total of 72 patients were enrolled (mean age 80 ± 7 years, male sex 44%, serum creatinine 0.98 ± 0.42 mg/dL, and CKD 57%). Cockcroft-Gault showed the highest sensitivity (78%) and specificity (94%) for CKD and was correlated with kidney volume (R = 0.68, P < 0.001). All formulas failed to provide a reliable estimate of GFR. In multivariate analysis, Cockcroft-Gault < 52 mL/min and kidney sinus section area < 28 cm2 showed the highest accuracy for the identification of CKD subjects (AUC 0.90, P < 0.001). MDRD and CKD-EPI differed significantly for GFR ≥90 mL/min. Conclusions. Cockcroft-Gault < 52 mL/min was able to discriminate subjects with CKD but all formulas failed to provide a reliable estimate of GFR. The combined use of r-US and Cockcroft-Gault formula improved the ability to discriminate CKD in elderly subjects.
PMCID: PMC4274817  PMID: 25548794
2.  Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Novel Molecular Targets in Carcinogenesis for Future Therapies 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:203693.
Background. Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common and lethal malignant tumors worldwide. Over the past 15 years, the incidence of HCC has more than doubled. Due to late diagnosis and/or advanced underlying liver cirrhosis, only limited treatment options with marginal clinical benefit are available in up to 70% of patients. During the last decades, no effective conventional cytotoxic systemic therapy was available contributing to the dismal prognosis in patients with HCC. A better knowledge of molecular hepatocarcinogenesis provides today the opportunity for targeted therapy. Materials and Methods. A search of the literature was made using cancer literature, the PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science (WOS) database for the following keywords: “hepatocellular carcinoma,” “molecular hepatocarcinogenesis,” “targeted therapy,” and “immunotherapy.” Discussion and Conclusion. Treatment decisions are complex and dependent upon tumor staging, presence of portal hypertension, and the underlying degree of liver dysfunction. The knowledge of molecular hepatocarcinogenesis broadened the horizon for patients with advanced HCC. During the last years, several molecular targeted agents have been evaluated in clinical trials in advanced HCC. In the future, new therapeutic options will be represented by a blend of immunotherapy-like vaccines and T-cell modulators, supplemented by molecularly targeted inhibitors of tumor signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC4096380  PMID: 25089265
3.  Acetyl-L-Carnitine Supplementation During HCV Therapy With Pegylated Interferon-α 2b Plus Ribavirin: Effect on Work Performance; A Randomized Clinical Trial 
Hepatitis Monthly  2014;14(5):e11608.
The health status of employees with chronic hepatitis C has major implications for organizations and labour market.
To assess the effects of Acetyl-L-Carnitine administration on work productivity, daily activity, and fatigue in subjects with chronic hepatitis C treated with Pegylated-Interferon-α2b and Ribavirin.
Patients and Methods:
In this prospective, randomized, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trial, 30 subjects (Group A) with chronic hepatitis, received Pegylated-Interferon-α2b (1.5 mg/kg per week) plus Ribavirin and placebo, while 32 subjects (Group B) received the same dosage of Pegylated-Interferon-α2b plus Ribavirin plus 2g Acetyl-L-Carnitine twice per day, for 12 months. Work productivity loss, impairment in daily activities, presenteeism, absenteeism, have been assessed using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment questionnaire. We also evaluated severity of fatigue, mental fatigue and physical fatigue.
Significant difference were observed in physical fatigue, mental fatigue and severity of fatigue, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and viremia after 12 months treatment. In Group B we observed a significant decrease of presenteeism and daily activity impairment after 6 months, 12 months and at follow up. A significant increase of work productivity was observed after 12 months and at follow up.
Office workers with chronic hepatitis C, treated with Pegylated-Interferon-α2b plus Ribavirin, had work performance loss. In subjects treated with Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation we observed increased daily activity and reduced presenteeism and fatigue. Acetyl-L-Carnitinegroup had a smaller reduction of productivity comparing to placebo group.
PMCID: PMC4030263  PMID: 24910702
Acetyl Lcarnitine; Interferon; Ribavirin; Hepatitis C; Fatigue; Quality of Life
4.  Neurotoxicity of Acrylamide in Exposed Workers 
Acrylamide (ACR) is a water-soluble chemical used in different industrial and laboratory processes. ACR monomer is neurotoxic in humans and laboratory animals. Subchronic exposure to this chemical causes neuropathies, hands and feet numbness, gait abnormalities, muscle weakness, ataxia, skin and in some cases, cerebellar alterations. ACR neurotoxicity involves mostly the peripheral but also the central nervous system, because of damage to the nerve terminal through membrane fusion mechanisms and tubulovescicular alterations. Nevertheless, the exact action mechanism is not completely elucidated. In this paper we have reviewed the current literature on its neurotoxicity connected to work-related ACR exposure. We have analyzed not only the different pathogenetic hypotheses focusing on possible neuropathological targets, but also the critical behavior of ACR poisoning. In addition we have evaluated the ACR-exposed workers case studies. Despite all the amount of work which have being carried out on this topic more studies are necessary to fully understand the pathogenetic mechanisms, in order to propose suitable therapies.
PMCID: PMC3799507  PMID: 23985770
acrylamide; workers; neurotoxicity; neuropathy
5.  Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Workers Exposed to Chemicals 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(10 HCC):e5943.
Studies on experimental animals have shown liver is a common target of chemical carcinogens; this might suggest that occupational exposure to chemicals is another risk factor for HCC. However, the relationship between occupation and liver cancer has not been extensively studied, with the exception of the known association between vinyl chloride and angiosarcoma of the liver.
Evidence Acquisition
A MEDLINE and conventional search of the past 50 years of the medical literature was performed to identify relevant articles on incidence and mechanisms of HCC due to occupational exposure to chemicals. Several important edited books and monographs were also identified and reviewed.
While laboratory data clearly indicate that the liver is an important target of chemical carcinogenesis, epidemiological studies provide very limited evidence on occupational risk factors for HCC. Nevertheless, we found some case reports and epidemiological data showing a moderately increased risk of HCC development in people exposed to vinyl chloride, organic solvents, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and arsenic.
Occupational exposure to chemicals may be another risk factor for HCC development, but the interpretation of currently available findings is limited by the small number of studies, questionable accuracy of the diagnosis of liver cancer, and potential confounding or modifying factors such as chronic hepatitis virus infection and alcohol consumption. Further relevant investigations are required for clarifying the actual contribution of occupational exposure to chemicals in HCC development.
PMCID: PMC3496877  PMID: 23162599
Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Occupational Exposure; Vinyl Chloride; Solvents; Pesticides; Polychlorinated Biphenyls; Arsenic
6.  Long-Term Persistence of Seroprotection by Hepatitis B Vaccination in Healthcare Workers of Southern Italy 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(9):e6025.
The impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination campaigns on HBV epidemiology needs to be evaluated, in order to assess the long-term immunity offered by vaccines against HBV.
To evaluate the current status of anti-HBV vaccine coverage among healthcare workers (HCWs) in Southern Italy, and to determine the long-term persistence of antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigens (anti-HBs) in such a cohort of subjects.
Patients and Methods
A longitudinal, retrospective seroepidemiological survey was conducted among 451 HCWs, who were working at or visiting, the Occupational Health Department of a city hospital, in Catania, Italy, between January 1976 and December 2010.
At the 30-year follow-up (mean follow-up 10.15 ± 5.96 years, range 0.74-30), 261 HCWs had detectable anti-HBs titers indicating a persistence of seroprotection of 89.4% (out of 292 anti-HBs positive results, three months after vaccination). An inadequate vaccination schedule was the strongest predictor of antibody loss during follow-up (OR = 8.37 95% CI: 5.41-12.95, P < 0.001). A Kaplan-Maier survival curve revealed that the persistence of anti-HBs 30 years after vaccination, was 92.2% for high responders, while it was only 27.3% for low responders (P = 0.001).
A good level of seroprotection persisted in 57.9% of the subjects after 30 years. Factors related to this immunization status confirmed the importance of vaccinating HCWs early in their careers and ensuring an adequate vaccination schedule. However, with particular reference to the low rate of hepatitis B vaccine coverage among HCWs in Southern Italy, the implementation of a new educational intervention as part of an active vaccination program is needed.
PMCID: PMC3475028  PMID: 23087756
Hepatitis B Virus; Vaccines; Health Personnel; Vaccination
7.  Toxic hepatitis in occupational exposure to solvents 
The liver is the main organ responsible for the metabolism of drugs and toxic chemicals, and so is the primary target organ for many organic solvents. Work activities with hepatotoxins exposures are numerous and, moreover, organic solvents are used in various industrial processes. Organic solvents used in different industrial processes may be associated with hepatotoxicity. Several factors contribute to liver toxicity; among these are: species differences, nutritional condition, genetic factors, interaction with medications in use, alcohol abuse and interaction, and age. This review addresses the mechanisms of hepatotoxicity. The main pathogenic mechanisms responsible for functional and organic damage caused by solvents are: inflammation, dysfunction of cytochrome P450, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. The health impact of exposure to solvents in the workplace remains an interesting and worrying question for professional health work.
PMCID: PMC3374978  PMID: 22719183
Work activity; Hepatotoxicity; Hepatotoxin; Occupational disease; Inflammation
8.  L-carnitine supplementation improves hematological pattern in patients affected by HCV treated with Peg interferon-α 2b plus ribavirin 
AIM: To evaluate the efficacy of L-carnitine on alleviating anemia, thrombocytopenia and leukopenia, and minimizing dose reductions in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in treatment with Interferon α (IFN-α) plus ribavirin.
METHODS: Sixty-nine patients with chronic hepatitis C were enrolled in the study and divided into two groups. group A (n = 35) received Peg-IFN-α 2b plus ribavirin plus L-carnitine, and group B (n = 34) received Peg-IFN-α and ribavirin for 12 mo. All patients underwent laboratory investigations including: red cell count, hemoglobin, white cell count, platelets, bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and viremia.
RESULTS: After 12 mo in group A compared to group B we observed significant differences in AST 108.8 vs 76.8 (IU/L; P < 0.001), ALT 137.9 vs 112.3 (IU/L; P < 0.001), viremia 4.04 vs 2.36 (× 106 copies/mL; P < 0.001), Hb 1 vs 3.5 (g/dL; P < 0.05), red blood cells 0.3 vs 1.1 (× 1012/L; P < 0.001), white blood cells 1.5 vs 3 (× 109/L; P < 0.001) and platelets 86 vs 85 (× 109/L; P < 0.001). The end treatment responders were 18 vs 12 (60% vs 44%) and the non responders were 12 vs 15 (40% vs 50%) [odds ratio (OR) 1.65, 95% CI = 0.65-5.37, P < 0.05]. In group A compared to group B there was a significant improvement of sustained virological response in 15 vs 7 patients (50% vs 25%), while the relapsers were 3 vs 5 (10% vs 18%) (OR 3.57, 95% CI = 0.65-19.3, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: L-carnitine supplementations modulate erythropoiesis, leucopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis, and may be useful in patients treated for HCV. L-carnitine treatment offers the possibility of achieving a sustained virological response while preventing overtreatment.
PMCID: PMC3218156  PMID: 22110268
L-carnitine; Chronic hepatitis C; Anemia; Interferon
9.  Rosuvastatin reduces nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with α-interferon and ribavirin 
Hepatitis Monthly  2011;11(2):92-98.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease develops in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Interferon and ribavirin combination therapy is the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C, but if present, NAFLD can reduce the virological response to anti-HCV therapies.
We determined whether the addition of rosuvastatin to interferon and ribavirin improves the sustained virological response (SVR) and reduces steatosis.
Patients and Methods
This study was a prospective, randomized, open-label trial. Between January 2004 and December 2007, 65 patients with chronic hepatitis (27 women and 38 men, mean age 48 years) aged 32-63 years (median 46 years) were consecutively enrolled. Patients were randomly assigned to receive leukocyte interferon alpha (3 MIU 3 times per week) plus ribavirin (1200 mg per day) for 12 months or interferon alpha and ribavirin at the same dosages plus rosuvastatin (5 mg per day). The primary endpoints were measurements in SVR, liver enzyme, cholesterol, triglyceride, CRP, glucose, and insulin levels; and Homa-IR, fibrosis, and steatosis scores.
After 12 months of treatment, we observed a significant improvement in SVR in 51% of patients who received interferon plus ribavirin plus rosuvastatin compared with 18% of relapsers (OR 1.52; 95% CI = 0.41-5.64; RR 1.13). There were 23 responders (69%) and 10 nonresponders (30%) (OR 1.38; 95% CI = 0.49-16.5; RR 1.11). When comparing interferon plus ribavirin group vs interferon plus ribavirin and rosuvastatin group after 12 months, we observed a significant difference in AST (85.70 vs.106.5.00 IU/ml) (OR 1.2; 95% CI= 0.29-4.94; RR 1.04; p<0.001), ALT (81.80 vs. 126.2 IU/ml) (OR 1.2; 95% CI = 0.29-4.94; RR 1.04; p < 0.001), LDL-cholesterol (0.01 vs. 0.60 mmol/l) (OR 14; 95% CI = 3.98-49.16; p RR 2.96; < 0.001), triglycerides (0.17 vs. 0.2 mmol/l) (OR 20; 95% CI = 4.94-80.89; RR 5.38; p < 0.05), and Viremia (1.8 vs. 2.48 UI/ml, p < 0.05). Mean fibrosis score decreased 0.10 vs. 0.50 (OR 4.5; 95% CI = 0.89-22.66; RR 1.5; p < 0.05), and mean steatosis score declined 0.30 vs. 0.50 (OR 11.2; CI = 2.88-43.53; RR 2.75; p < 0.001).
In HCV patients with NAFLD, the addition of rosuvastatin to interferon and ribavirin significantly reduces viremia, steatosis, and fibrosis without causing side effects.
PMCID: PMC3206670  PMID: 22087124
NAFLD; Ribavirin; Interferon; Hepatitis
10.  Myopathy with Concurrent Tadalafil and Simvastatin 
Case Reports in Medicine  2009;2009:378287.
A 48-year-old man, using statin, was admitted to hospital with progressive myalgia after consumption of tadalafil and simvastatin. Muscle pain and penile erection disappeared seven days after interruption of therapy. This case demonstrates the interaction of tadalafil with simvastatin resulting in myopathy. Muscle damage could be attributed to the common metabolic way of these two drugs which is cytochrome P450 isoenzyme system.
PMCID: PMC2728614  PMID: 19721707
11.  Rasburicase represents a new tool for hyperuricemia in tumor lysis syndrome and in gout 
Hyperuricemia is a feature of several pathologies and requires an appropriate and often early treatment, owing to the severe consequences that it may cause. A rapid and massive raise of uric acid, during tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), and also a lower and chronic hyperuricemia, as in gout, mainly damage the kidney. To prevent or treat these consequences, a new therapeutic option is represented by rasburicase, a recombinant form of an enzyme, urate oxidase. This enzyme converts hypoxanthine and xanthine into allantoin, a more soluble molecule, easily cleared by kidney. The several types of urate oxidase have followed each other, with progressive reduction of adverse reactions. The most important among them are allergenicity and the development of antibodies which compromise their effectiveness. Nevertheless, a limit of rasburicase's use remains its cost, which obliges to a judicious choice to prevent TLS in high risk patients with cancer and in case of allergy or impossibility to take allopurinol orally both in TLS and in gout. A large body of evidence confirms the efficacy and safety of rasburicase, even in comparison to the standard drugs used in the aforementioned pathologies.
PMCID: PMC1838823  PMID: 17396159
Urate oxidase; allantoin; rasburicase; hyperuricemia; tumor lysis syndrome; acute renal failure; gout; allopurinol; uric acid
12.  Decrease of serum carnitine levels in patients with or without gastrointestinal cancer cachexia 
AIM: To evaluate the levels of serum carnitine in patients with cancer in digestive organs and to compare them with other cancers in order to provide new insights into the mechanisms of cachexia.
METHODS: Fifty-five cachectic patients with or without gastrointestinal cancer were enrolled in the present study. They underwent routine laboratory investigations, including examination of the levels of various forms of carnitine present in serum (i.e., long-chain acylcarnitine, short-chain acylcarnitine, free carnitine, and total carnitine). These values were compared with those found in 60 cancer patients in good nutritional status as well as with those of 30 healthy control subjects.
RESULTS: When the cachectic patients with gastro-intestinal cancer were compared with the cachectic patients without gastrointestinal cancer, the difference was -6.8 μmol/L in free carnitine (P < 0.005), 0.04 μmol/L in long chain acylcarnitine (P < 0.05), 8.7 μmol/L in total carnitine (P < 0.001). In the cachectic patients with or without gastrointestinal cancer, the difference was 12.2 μmol/L in free carnitine (P < 0.001), 4.60 μmol/L in short chain acylcarnitine (P < 0.001), and 0.60 μmol /L in long-chain acylcarnitine (P < 0.005) and 17.4 μmol/L in total carnitine (P < 0.001). In the cachectic patients with gastrointestinal cancer and the healthy control subjects, the difference was 15.5 μmol/L in free carnitine (P < 0.001), 5.2 μmol /L in short-chain acylcarnitine (P < 0.001), 1.0 μmol/L in long chain acylcarnitine (P < 0.001), and 21.8 μmol/L in total carnitine (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Low serum levels of carnitine in terminal neoplastic patients are decreased greatly due to the decreased dietary intake and impaired endogenous synthesis of this substance. These low serum carnitine levels also contribute to the progression of cachexia in cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4125643  PMID: 16874868
Acetyl carnitine; Nutritional status; Anorexia; Malnutrition; Fatigue

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