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1.  Cardiorenal Syndrome Type 1 May Be Immunologically Mediated: A Pilot Evaluation of Monocyte Apoptosis 
Cardiorenal Medicine  2012;2(1):33-42.
Cardiorenal syndrome (CRS) type 1 is characterized by a rapid worsening of cardiac function leading to acute kidney injury (AKI). An immune-mediated damage and alteration of immune response have been postulated as potential mechanisms involved in CRS type 1. In this pilot study, we examined the possible role of the immune-mediated mechanisms in the pathogenesis of this syndrome. The main objective was to analyze in vitro that plasma of CRS type 1 patients was able to trigger a response in monocytes resulting in apoptosis. The secondary aim was to evaluate TNF-α and IL-6 plasma levels of CRS type 1 patients.
Fifteen patients with acute heart failure (AHF) and CRS type 1 were enrolled and 20 healthy volunteers without AHF or AKI were recruited as control group. Plasma from these two groups was incubated with monocytes and, subsequently, cell apoptosis was evaluated. In addition, the activity of caspase-8 was assessed after 24 h incubation. Quantitative determination of TNF-α and IL-6 levels was performed.
Plasma-induced apoptosis was significantly higher in CRS type 1 patients compared with healthy controls at 72 h (78 vs. 11%) and 96 h (81 vs. 11%). At 24 h, the activity of caspase-8 was significantly higher in monocytes incubated with plasma from the CRS type 1 group. TNF-α (2.39 vs. 28.49 pg/ml) and IL-6 (4.8 vs. 16.5 pg/ml) levels were significantly elevated in the CRS type 1 group (p < 0.01).
In conclusion, there is a defective regulation of monocyte apoptosis in CRS type 1 patients, and inflammatory pathways may have a central role in the pathogenesis of CRS type 1 and may be fundamental in damage to distant organs.
PMCID: PMC3318942  PMID: 22493601
Cardiorenal syndrome; Acute heart failure; Apoptosis; Acute kidney injury
2.  Pathogenesis of nephrolithiasis: recent insight from cell biology and renal pathology 
Randall’s plaques are very common in idiopathic calcium-oxalate nephrolithiasis. These papillary plaques have an apatite mineral structure. While these calcium deposits are generally assumed to be secondary to a purely physico-chemical phenomenon, we advance the hypothesis that they form due to a truly ectopic biomineralization in the renal tissue, and that Henle’s loop epithelial cells, or pericyte-like interstitial cells, or papillary stem cells differentiating along a bone lineage might be involved.
PMCID: PMC2781203  PMID: 22460990
: CaOx renal stones, ectopic calcification, epithelial-mesenchymal transformation, papilla, Randall’s plaque
3.  Genes involved in TGFβ1-driven epithelial-mesenchymal transition of renal epithelial cells are topologically related in the human interactome map 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:383.
Understanding how mesenchymal cells arise from epithelial cells could have a strong impact in unveiling mechanisms of epithelial cell plasticity underlying kidney regeneration and repair.
In primary human tubular epithelial cells (HUTEC) under different TGFβ1 concentrations we had observed epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) but not epithelial-myofibroblast transdifferentiation. We hypothesized that the process triggered by TGFβ1 could be a dedifferentiation event. The purpose of this study is to comprehensively delineate genetic programs associated with TGFβ1-driven EMT in our in vitro model using gene expression profile on large-scale oligonucleotide microarrays.
In HUTEC under TGFβ1 stimulus, 977 genes were found differentially expressed. Thirty genes were identified whose expression depended directly on TGFβ1 concentration. By mapping the differentially expressed genes in the Human Interactome Map using Cytoscape software, we identified a single scale-free network consisting of 2630 interacting proteins and containing 449 differentially expressed proteins. We identified 27 hub proteins in the interactome with more than 29 edges incident on them and encoded by differentially expressed genes. The Gene Ontology analysis showed an excess of up-regulated proteins involved in biological processes, such as "morphogenesis", "cell fate determination" and "regulation of development", and the most up-regulated genes belonged to these categories. In addition, 267 genes were mapped to the KEGG pathways and 14 pathways with more than nine differentially expressed genes were identified. In our model, Smad signaling was not the TGFβ1 action effector; instead, the engagement of RAS/MAPK signaling pathway seems mainly to regulate genes involved in the cell cycle and proliferation/apoptosis.
Our present findings support the hypothesis that context-dependent EMT generated in our model by TGFβ1 might be the outcome of a dedifferentiation. In fact: 1) the principal biological categories involved in the process concern morphogenesis and development; 2) the most up-regulated genes belong to these categories; and, finally, 3) some intracellular pathways are involved, whose engagement during kidney development and nephrogenesis is well known. These long-term effects of TGFβ1 in HUTEC involve genes that are highly interconnected, thereby generating a scale-free network that we named the "TGFβ1 interactome", whose hubs represent proteins that may have a crucial role for HUTEC in response to TGFβ1.
PMCID: PMC2174485  PMID: 17953753

Results 1-3 (3)