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1.  Alternative Pathways of Cancer Cell Death by Rottlerin: Apoptosis versus Autophagy 
Since the ability of cancer cells to evade apoptosis often limits the efficacy of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, autophagy is emerging as an alternative target to promote cell death. Therefore, we wondered whether Rottlerin, a natural polyphenolic compound with antiproliferative effects in several cell types, can induce cell death in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The MCF-7 cell line is a good model of chemo/radio resistance, being both apoptosis and autophagy resistant, due to deletion of caspase 3 gene, high expression of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2, and low expression of the autophagic Beclin-1 protein. The contribution of autophagy and apoptosis to the cytotoxic effects of Rottlerin was examined by light, fluorescence, and electron microscopic examination and by western blotting analysis of apoptotic and autophagic markers. By comparing caspases-3-deficient (MCF-73def) and caspases-3-transfected MCF-7 cells (MCF-73trans), we found that Rottlerin induced a noncanonical, Bcl-2-, Beclin 1-, Akt-, and ERK-independent autophagic death in the former- and the caspases-mediated apoptosis in the latter, in not starved conditions and in the absence of any other treatment. These findings suggest that Rottlerin could be cytotoxic for different cancer cell types, both apoptosis competent and apoptosis resistant.
doi:10.1155/2012/980658
PMCID: PMC3541534  PMID: 23320042
2.  Athletic humans and horses: Comparative analysis of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in trained and untrained subjects at rest 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:3.
Background
Horses and humans share a natural proclivity for athletic performance. In this respect, horses can be considered a reference species in studies designed to optimize physical training and disease prevention. In both species, interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a major role in regulating the inflammatory process induced during exercise as part of an integrated metabolic regulatory network. The aim of this study was to compare IL-6 and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in trained and untrained humans and horses.
Results
Nine highly trained male swimmers (training volume: 21.6 ± 1.7 h/wk in 10-12 sessions) were compared with two age-matched control groups represented by eight lightly trained runners (training volume: 6.4 ± 2.6 h/wk in 3-5 sessions) and nine untrained subjects. In addition, eight trained horses (training volume: 8.0 ± 2.1 h/wk in 3-4 sessions) were compared with eight age-matched sedentary mares. In humans, IL-6 mRNA levels in PBMCs determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction were significantly higher in highly trained subjects, whereas IL-6R expression did not differ among groups. In horses, transcripts of both IL-6 and IL-6R were significantly up-regulated in the trained group.
Conclusions
Up-regulation of IL-6R expression in PBMCs in horses could reflect a mechanism that maintains an adequate anti-inflammatory environment at rest through ubiquitous production of anti-inflammatory cytokines throughout the body. These findings suggest that the system that controls the inflammatory response in horses is better adapted to respond to exercise than that in humans.
doi:10.1186/1472-6793-11-3
PMCID: PMC3036646  PMID: 21255427
3.  Differential expression of follistatin and FLRG in human breast proliferative disorders 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:320.
Background
Activins are growth factors acting on cell growth and differentiation. Activins are expressed in high grade breast tumors and they display an antiproliferative effect inducing G0/G1 cell cycle arrest in breast cancer cell lines. Follistatin and follistatin- related gene (FLRG) bind and neutralize activins. In order to establish if these activin binding proteins are involved in breast tumor progression, the present study evaluated follistatin and FLRG pattern of mRNA and protein expression in normal human breast tissue and in different breast proliferative diseases.
Methods
Paraffin embedded specimens of normal breast (NB - n = 8); florid hyperplasia without atypia (FH - n = 17); fibroadenoma (FIB - n = 17); ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS - n = 10) and infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC - n = 15) were processed for follistatin and FLRG immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. The area and intensity of chromogen epithelial and stromal staining were analyzed semi-quantitatively.
Results
Follistatin and FLRG were expressed both in normal tissue and in all the breast diseases investigated. Follistatin staining was detected in the epithelial cytoplasm and nucleus in normal, benign and malignant breast tissue, with a stronger staining intensity in the peri-alveolar stromal cells of FIB at both mRNA and protein levels. Conversely, FLRG area and intensity of mRNA and protein staining were higher both in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus of IDC epithelial cells when compared to NB, while no significant changes in the stromal intensity were observed in all the proliferative diseases analyzed.
Conclusion
The present findings suggest a role for follistatin in breast benign disease, particularly in FIB, where its expression was increased in stromal cells. The up regulation of FLRG in IDC suggests a role for this protein in the progression of breast malignancy. As activin displays an anti-proliferative effect in human mammary cells, the present findings indicate that an increased FST and FLRG expression in breast proliferative diseases might counteract the anti-proliferative effects of activin in human breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-320
PMCID: PMC2749060  PMID: 19740438

Results 1-3 (3)