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1.  Amyloidosis, Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress in the Heart of an Alkaptonuric Patient 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:258471.
Background. Alkaptonuria, a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder caused by deficiency in homogentisate 1,2-dioxygenase activity, leads to accumulation of oxidised homogentisic acid in cartilage and collagenous structures present in all organs and tissues, especially joints and heart, causing a pigmentation called ochronosis. A secondary amyloidosis is associated with AKU. Here we report a study of an aortic valve from an AKU patient. Results. Congo Red birefringence, Th-T fluorescence, and biochemical assays demonstrated the presence of SAA-amyloid deposits in AKU stenotic aortic valve. Light and electron microscopy assessed the colocalization of ochronotic pigment and SAA-amyloid, the presence of calcified areas in the valve. Immunofluorescence detected lipid peroxidation of the tissue and lymphocyte/macrophage infiltration causing inflammation. High SAA plasma levels and proinflammatory cytokines levels comparable to those from rheumatoid arthritis patients were found in AKU patient. Conclusions. SAA-amyloidosis was present in the aortic valve from an AKU patient and colocalized with ochronotic pigment as well as with tissue calcification, lipid oxidation, macrophages infiltration, cell death, and tissue degeneration. A local HGD expression in human cardiac tissue has also been ascertained suggesting a consequent local production of ochronotic pigment in AKU heart.
PMCID: PMC4020161  PMID: 24876668
2.  Secondary amyloidosis in an alkaptonuric aortic valve☆ 
International Journal of Cardiology  2014;172(1):e121-e123.
PMCID: PMC3991337  PMID: 24456888
Ochronosis; Amyloidosis; Aortic valve; Stenosis; Calcification
3.  Antioxidants inhibit SAA formation and pro-inflammatory cytokine release in a human cell model of alkaptonuria 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(9):1667-1673.
Objective. Alkaptonuria (AKU) is an ultra-rare autosomal recessive disease that currently lacks an appropriate therapy. Recently we provided experimental evidence that AKU is a secondary serum amyloid A (SAA)-based amyloidosis. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the use of antioxidants to inhibit SAA amyloid and pro-inflammatory cytokine release in AKU.
Methods. We adopted a human chondrocytic cell AKU model to evaluate the anti-amyloid capacity of a set of antioxidants that had previously been shown to counteract ochronosis in a serum AKU model. Amyloid presence was evaluated by Congo red staining. Homogentisic acid-induced SAA production and pro-inflammatory cytokine release (overexpressed in AKU patients) were evaluated by ELISA and multiplex systems, respectively. Lipid peroxidation was evaluated by means of a fluorescence-based assay.
Results. Our AKU model allowed us to prove the efficacy of ascorbic acid combined with N-acetylcysteine, taurine, phytic acid and lipoic acid in significantly inhibiting SAA production, pro-inflammatory cytokine release and membrane lipid peroxidation.
Conclusion. All the tested antioxidant compounds were able to reduce the production of amyloid and may be the basis for establishing new therapies for AKU amyloidosis.
PMCID: PMC3741479  PMID: 23704321
ascorbic acid; N-acetylcysteine; taurine; phytic acid; lipoic acid; homogentisic acid; serum amyloid A; inflammation; chondrocyte; lipid peroxidation
4.  Genetic variation in SPAG16 regions encoding the WD40 repeats is not associated with reduced sperm motility and axonemal defects in a population of infertile males 
BMC Urology  2012;12:27.
SPAG16 is a critical structural component of motile cilia and flagella. In the eukaryotic unicellular algae Chlamydomonas, loss of gene function causes flagellar paralysis and prevents assembly of the “9 + 2” axoneme central pair. In mice, we have previously shown that loss of Spag16 gene function causes male infertility and severe sperm motility defects. We have also reported that a heterozygous mutation of the human SPAG16 gene reduces stability of the sperm axonemal central apparatus.
In the present study, we analyzed DNA samples from 60 infertile male volunteers of Western European (Italian) origin, to search for novel SPAG16 gene mutations, and to determine whether increased prevalence of SPAG16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was associated with infertility phenotypes. Semen parameters were evaluated by light microscopy and sperm morphology was comprehensively analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
For gene analysis, sequences were generated covering exons encoding the conserved WD40 repeat region of the SPAG16 protein and the flanking splice junctions. No novel mutations were found, and the four SNPs in the assessed gene region were present at expected frequencies. The minor alleles were not associated with any assessed sperm parameter in the sample population.
Analysis of the SPAG16 regions encoding the conserved WD repeats revealed no evidence for association of mutations or genetic variation with sperm motility and ultrastructural sperm characteristics in a cohort of Italian infertile males.
PMCID: PMC3487941  PMID: 22963137
Sperm ultrastructure; Axoneme; Motile cilia; Male infertility; Central apparatus; Semen analysis
5.  18, X, Y aneuploidies and transmission electron microscopy studies in spermatozoa from five carriers of different reciprocal translocations 
Asian Journal of Andrology  2009;11(3):325-332.
We analysed ejaculated spermatozoa from five infertile men with different balanced reciprocal translocations to contribute to the study of meiotic segregation of chromosomes 18, X and Y and also to evaluate sperm morphology by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Conventional lymphocyte karyotype analyses highlighted different reciprocal balanced translocations: t(12;13), t(4;9), t(X;8), t(8;10) and t(3;16). Semen analysis was performed by light and TEM. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed directly on sperm nuclei using centromeric probes for chromosomes 18, X and Y. The carriers of the balanced reciprocal translocations considered in the present study showed a very similar pattern of sperm pathologies: diffused presence of apoptosis and immaturity. All patients showed meiotic segregation derangements, highlighted by the presence of sperm diploidies and sex chromosome disomies particularly related to the failure of the first meiotic division. However, an increased incidence of chromosome 18 aneuploidy was detected in spermatozoa from t(X;8) and t(8;10) carriers. We have also reported values from sex chromosomes such as t(X;8), although the X chromosome was involved in translocation. Since patients with reciprocal translocations and spermatogenetic impairment are candidates for intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles, the study of sperm parameters, and particularly of the level of aneuploidy rates, would provide better information for couples at risk and would contribute to the data in the literature for a better understanding of the effects of chromosomal rearrangement on the whole meiotic process and, in particular, on chromosomes not involved in translocation.
PMCID: PMC3735288  PMID: 19349951
electron microscopy; fluorescence in situ hybridization; altered karyotype; spermatozoa; reciprocal translocation

Results 1-5 (5)