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1.  Autophagy and Human Parturition: Evaluation of LC3 Expression in Placenta from Spontaneous or Medically Induced Onset of Labor 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:689768.
Induction of labor is one of the most used procedures in obstetrics, performed to achieve vaginal delivery through cervical ripening and stimulation of uterine contractions. We investigated the impact of induction of labor upon placental autophagy, a catabolic pathway activated in response to alteration of the physiological intracellular conditions. We collected 28 singleton placentas at the time of uncomplicated term vaginal delivery (7 spontaneous onset of labor, 21 induced labor). Autophagy was evaluated by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and immunoblotting. No significant difference in the autophagy expression was found between spontaneous or induced onset of labor. We found an inverse relationship between autophagy expression and the maternal prepregnancy body mass index, irrespective of the mode of labor onset. This result could be related to the nutritional maternal habits before and throughout pregnancy rather than rapid metabolic changes during labor.
PMCID: PMC3730383  PMID: 23956998
2.  Placental Amino Acids Transport in Intrauterine Growth Restriction 
Journal of Pregnancy  2012;2012:972562.
The placenta represents a key organ for fetal growth as it acts as an interface between mother and fetus, regulating the fetal-maternal exchange of nutrients, gases, and waste products. During pregnancy, amino acids represent one of the major nutrients for fetal life, and both maternal and fetal concentrations are significantly different in pregnancies with intrauterine growth restriction when compared to uncomplicated pregnancies. The transport of amino acids across the placenta is a complex process that includes the influx of neutral, anionic, and cationic amino acids across the microvilluos plasma membrane of the syncytiotrophoblast, the passage through the cytoplasm of the trophoblasts, and the transfer outside the trophoblasts across the basal membrane into the fetal circulation. In this paper, we review the transport mechanisms of amino acids across the placenta in normal pregnancies and in pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction.
PMCID: PMC3401547  PMID: 22997583
3.  Respiratory function of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and caregiver distress level: a correlational study 
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disorder with no curative treatment characterized by degeneration of motor neurons involving a progressive impairment of motor and respiratory functions. Most patients die of ventilator respiratory failure. Caregivers have a great influence on the patient”s quality of life as well as on the quality of care. Home influence of the caregiver on patient care is notable. To date, no study has investigated how psychological issues of caregivers would influence respiratory variables of ALS patients. The study aimed at finding out if there is a relationship between the respiratory function of ALS patients and the level of distress of their caregivers.
A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate respiratory issues (PCF and FVC) and the perception of social support of ALS patients. Caregivers filled questionnaires about trait anxiety, depression, and burden of care. Forty ALS patients and their caregivers were recruited.
FVC and PCF were positively related to patient perception of social support and negatively related to caregiver anxiety, depression, and burden.
The distress of ALS caregivers is related to patient respiratory issues. The first and more intuitive explanation emphasizes the impact that the patient’s clinical condition has with respect to the caregiver. However, it is possible to hypothesize that if caregivers feel psychologically better, their patient’s quality of life improves and that a condition of greater well-being and relaxation could also increase ventilatory capacity. Furthermore, care management could be carried out more easily by caregivers who pay more attention to the patient's respiratory needs.
Patient perception of social support and caregiver distress are related to respiratory issues in ALS.
PMCID: PMC3472192  PMID: 22721255
Quality of life; Bio-psycho-social interaction; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Non-invasive ventilation; Health care; Caregivers
4.  Effect of antenatal betamethasone upon maternal and fetal amino acid concentration 
To determine the concentration of amino acids in women receiving the first course of antenatal betamethasone and to evaluate the umbilical venous and arterial amino acid concentrations at the time of elective caesarean section following betamethasone administration.
Study Design
Blood samples were collected from 34 pregnant women at risk of premature delivery before and 24 and 48 hours after the first course of betamethasone. In addition, maternal and cord blood samples were collected in 13 women undergoing an elective cesarean section between 24 and 192 hours after betamethasone.
Maternal amino acid concentrations were significantly increased after the first dose of betamethasone. Overall total amino nitrogen increased 17.5% 24 hours after betamethasone administration and 20.5% after 48 hours.
The concentration of most amino acids was increased both in the umbilical vein and artery after maternal betamethasone administration.
The concentration of maternal and fetal amino acids increases significantly after betamethasone administration.
PMCID: PMC2815105  PMID: 20022312
antenatal betamethasone; amino acids; human pregnancy
5.  Comparison of Fetal and Neonatal Growth Curves in Detecting Growth Restriction 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2008;112(6):1227-1234.
To evaluate the outcome of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) infants with abnormal pulsatility index of the umbilical artery according to the neonatal birth weight/gestational age standards and the intrauterine growth charts.
We analyzed 53 pregnancies with severe IUGR classified as Group 2 (22 IUGR: abnormal pulsatility index and normal fetal heart rate) and Group 3 (31 IUGR: abnormal pulsatility index and fetal heart rate). Neonatal birth weight/gestational age distribution, body size measurements, maternal characteristics and obstetric outcome, and neonatal major and minor morbidity and mortality were compared with those obtained in 79 singleton pregnancies with normal fetal growth and pulsatility index, matched for gestational age [appropriate for gestational age (AGA) group]. Differences were analyzed with the χ2 test and the Student’s t test. Differences between means corrected for gestational age in the different groups were assessed by analysis of covariance test. A P value <0.05 was considered significant.
At delivery, utilizing the neonatal standards, 25/53 (47%) IUGR showed a birthweight above the 10th percentile (IUGRAGA) whereas in 28, birthweight was below the 10th percentile (IUGRSGA). All body size measurements were significantly higher in AGA than in IUGRAGA and IUGRSGA. Forty-nine out of 79 (62%) AGA and 49/53 (92%) IUGR were admitted in the neonatal intensive care unit (p<0.001). One out of 79 (1%) AGA and 6/53 (11%) IUGR newborns died within 28 days (p<0.02). Major and minor morbidity was not different.
This study shows that neonatal outcome is similar in IUGR of the same clinical severity, whether or not they could be defined AGA or SGA according to the neonatal standards. Neonatal curves are misleading in detecting low birthweight infants and should be utilized only when obstetrical data are unavailable.
PMCID: PMC2752730  PMID: 19037030

Results 1-5 (5)