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1.  Italian survey on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and gastrointestinal bleeding in children 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2016;22(5):1877-1883.
AIM: To investigate gastrointestinal complications associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) use in children.
METHODS: A retrospective, multicenter study was conducted between January 2005 and January 2013, with the participation of 8 Italian pediatric gastroenterology centers. We collected all the cases of patients who refer to emergency room for suspected gastrointestinal bleeding following NSAIDs consumption, and underwent endoscopic evaluation. Previous medical history, associated risk factors, symptoms and signs at presentation, diagnostic procedures, severity of bleeding and management of gastrointestinal bleeding were collected. In addition, data regarding type of drug used, indication, dose, duration of treatment and prescriber (physician or self-medication) were examined.
RESULTS: Fifty-one patients, including 34 males, were enrolled (median age: 7.8 years). Ibuprofen was the most used NSAID [35/51 patients (68.6%)]. Pain was the most frequent indication for NSAIDs use [29/51 patients (56.9%)]. Seven patients had positive family history of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection or peptic ulcer, and 12 had associated comorbidities. Twenty-four (47%) out of 51 patients used medication inappropriately. Hematemesis was the most frequent symptom (33.3%). Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy revealed gastric lesions in 32/51 (62%) patients, duodenal lesions in 17 (33%) and esophageal lesions in 8 (15%). In 10/51 (19.6%) patients, a diagnosis of H. pylori gastritis was made. Forty-eight (94%) patients underwent medical therapy, with spontaneous bleeding resolution, while in 3/51 (6%) patients, an endoscopic hemostasis was needed.
CONCLUSION: The data collected in this study confirms that adverse events with the involvement of the gastrointestinal tract secondary to NSAID use are also common in children
PMCID: PMC4724619  PMID: 26855547
Hematemesis; Gastrointestinal bleeding; Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; Melena; Pediatrics
2.  Capsule endoscopy in pediatrics: A 10-years journey 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(44):16603-16608.
Video capsule endoscopy (CE) for evaluation the esophagus (ECE), small bowel (SBCE) and the colon (CCE) is particularly useful in pediatrics, because this imaging modality does not require ionizing radiation, deep sedation or general anesthesia. The risk of capsule retention appears to be dependent on indication rather than age and parallels the adult experience by indication, making SBCE a relatively safe procedure with a significant diagnostic yield. The newest indication, assessment of mucosal change, greatly enhances and expands its potential benefit. The diagnostic role of CE extends beyond the SB. The use of ECE also may enhance our knowledge of esophageal disease and assist patient care. Colon CCE is a novel minimally invasive and painless endoscopic technique allowing exploration of the colon without need for sedation, rectal intubation and gas insufflation. The limited data on ECE and CCE in pediatrics does not yet allow the same conclusions regarding efficacy; however, both appear to provide safe methods to assess and monitor mucosal change in their respective areas with little discomfort. Moreover, although experience has been limited, the patency capsule may help lessen the potential of capsule retention; and newly researched protocols for bowel cleaning may further enhance CE’s diagnostic yield. However, further research is needed to optimize the use of the various CE procedures in pediatric populations.
PMCID: PMC4248203  PMID: 25469028
Capsule endoscopy; Children; Small bowel; Pediatric endoscopy
3.  Imaging of the small bowel: Crohn’s disease in paediatric patients 
World Journal of Radiology  2014;6(6):313-328.
In more than 20% of all patients, the Crohn’s disease presents before the age of 18years. The diagnosis and management of Crohn’s disease in children has changed dramatically over the last decade, mainly due to increased awareness, availability of newer diagnostic modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and newer, more powerful treatments such as biologics. Imaging of the small bowel is needed for diagnosis, management, follow-up and also evaluation of the disease in terms of location, extent, activity and complications. We review all the methods (barium examinations, ultrasonography, computed tomography, MR, and computed tomography- positron emission tomography) commonly used for imaging the small bowel in paediatric patients with Crohn’s disease analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of each modality, with particular emphasis on MR imaging.
PMCID: PMC4072817  PMID: 24976933
Barium studies; Ultrasonography; Computed tomography; Magnetic resonance; Positron emission tomography-computed tomography
4.  Chronic granulomatous disease mimicking early-onset Crohn’s disease with cutaneous manifestations 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:156.
Chronic granulomatous disease is a rare inherited disorder of the innate immune system. In patients with a clinical history of recurrent or persistent infections, especially infections caused by uncommon species, chronic granulomatous disease should be considered.
Case presentation
We report the case of a 5-year-old boy with a presumptive diagnosis of Crohn’s disease with extraintestinal manifestations. Chronic granulomatous disease was suspected in this case after Serratia marcescens was isolated from a skin ulcer culture. Granulomas were confirmed on histology and chronic granulomatous disease was diagnosed.
This case emphasizes the importance of high clinical suspicion of an alternative diagnosis of immune deficiency in patients with presumed inflammatory bowel disease and opportunistic infections, especially when disease occurs in early life.
PMCID: PMC4097086  PMID: 24947584
Chronic granulomatous disease; Crohn’s disease; Serratia marcescens; Celiac disease; Skin infection; Nitroblue tetrazolium test; Pigment laden histiocytes
5.  Human Polyomavirus JC monitoring and noncoding control region analysis in dynamic cohorts of individuals affected by immune-mediated diseases under treatment with biologics: an observational study 
Virology Journal  2013;10:298.
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) onset, caused by Polyomavirus JC (JCPyV) in patients affected by immune-mediated diseases during biological treatment, raised concerns about the safety profile of these agents. Therefore, the aims of this study were the JCPyV reactivation monitoring and the noncoding control region (NCCR) and viral protein 1 (VP1) analysis in patients affected by different immune-mediated diseases and treated with biologics.
We performed JCPyV-specific quantitative PCR of biological samples collected at moment of recruitment (t0) and every 4 months (t1, t2, t3, t4). Subsequently, rearrangements’ analysis of NCCR and VP1 was carried out. Data were analyzed using χ2 test.
Results showed that at t0 patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases presented a JCPyV load in the urine significantly higher (p≤0.05) than in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease (CD). It can also be observed a significant association between JC viruria and JCPyV antibodies after 1 year of natalizumab (p=0.04) in MS patients. Finally, NCCR analysis showed the presence of an archetype-like sequence in all urine samples, whereas a rearranged NCCR Type IR was found in colon-rectal biopsies collected from 2 CD patients after 16 months of infliximab. Furthermore, sequences isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 2 MS patients with JCPyV antibody at t0 and t3, showed a NCCR Type IIR with a duplication of a 98 bp unit and a 66 bp insert, resulting in a boxB deletion and 37 T to G transversion into the Spi-B binding site. In all patients, a prevalence of genotypes 1A and 1B, the predominant JCPyV genotypes in Europe, was observed.
It has been important to understand whether the specific inflammatory scenario in different immune-mediated diseases could affect JCPyV reactivation from latency, in particular from kidneys. Moreover, for a more accurate PML risk stratification, testing JC viruria seems to be useful to identify patients who harbor JCPyV but with an undetectable JCPyV-specific humoral immune response. In these patients, it may also be important to study the JCPyV NCCR rearrangement: in particular, Spi-B expression in PBMCs could play a crucial role in JCPyV replication and NCCR rearrangement.
PMCID: PMC3849738  PMID: 24079660
JCPyV; q-PCR; JCPyV-specific antibodies; Multiple sclerosis; Natalizumab; Chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases; Crohn’s disease; anti-TNF; NCCR; VP1
6.  Efficacy and tolerability of α-galactosidase in treating gas-related symptoms in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial 
BMC Gastroenterology  2013;13:142.
Gas-related symptoms represent very common complaints in children. The reduction of gas production can be considered as a valuable target in controlling symptoms. α-galactosidase has been shown to reduce gas production and related symptoms in adults. To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of α-galactosidase in the treatment of gas-related symptoms in pediatric patients.
Single center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study performed in tertiary care setting. Fifty-two pediatric patients (32 female, age range 4–17) with chronic or recurrent gas-related symptoms were randomized to receive placebo (n = 25) or α-galactosidase (n = 27). Both treatments were given as drops or tablets, according to body weight for 2 weeks. The primary endpoint was the reduction in global distress measured by the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R) at the end of treatment compared to baseline. Secondary endpoints were the reduction in severity and frequency of gas-related symptoms as recorded by parents and/or children.
α-galactosidase significantly reduced global distress (p = 0.02) compared to placebo. The digestive enzyme decreased the number of days with moderate to severe bloating (p = 0.03) and the proportion of patients with flatulence (p = 0.02). No significant differences were found for abdominal spasms and abdominal distension. No adverse events were reported during treatment.
Although larger and longer trials are needed to confirm this result, α-galactosidase seems to be a safe, well tolerated and effective treatment for gas-related symptoms in the pediatric population.
Trial registration, NCT01595932
PMCID: PMC3849317  PMID: 24063420
Gas-related symptoms; Bloating; α-galactosidase; Children
7.  Efficacy and tolerability of peg-only laxative on faecal impaction and chronic constipation in children. A controlled double blind randomized study vs a standard peg-electrolyte laxative 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:178.
PEG-based laxatives are considered today the gold standard for the treatment of constipation in children. PEG formulations differ in terms of composition of inactive ingredients which may have an impact on acceptance, compliance and adherence to treatment. We therefore compared the efficacy, tolerability, acceptance and compliance of a new PEG-only formulation compared to a reference PEG-electrolyte (PEG-EL) formulation in resolving faecal impaction and in the treatment of chronic constipation.
Children aged 2–16 years with functional chronic constipation for at least 2 months were randomized to receive PEG-only 0.7 g/kg/day in 2 divided doses or 6.9 g PEG-EL 1–4 sachets according to age for 4 weeks. Children with faecal impaction were randomized to receive PEG-only 1.5/g/kg in 2 divided doses until resolution or for 6 days or PEG-EL with an initial dose of 4 sachets and increasing 2 sachets a day until resolution or for 7 days.
Ninety-six children were randomized into the study. Five patients withdrew consent before starting treatment. Three children discontinued treatment for refusal due to bad taste of the product (1 PEG-only, 2 PEG-EL); 1 (PEG-EL) for an adverse effect (abdominal pain). Intent-to-treat analysis was carried out in 49 children in the PEG-only group and 42 in the PEG-EL group.
No significant differences were observed between the two treatment groups at baseline.
Adequate relief of constipation in terms of normalized frequency and painless defecation of soft stools was achieved in all patients in both groups. The number of stools/week was 9.2 ± 3.2 (mean ± SD) in the PEG-only group and 7.8 ± 2.4 in the PEG-EL group (p = 0.025); the number of days with stool was 22.4 ± 5.1 in the PEG-only group and 19.6 ± 7.2 in the PEG-EL group (p = 0.034).
In the PEG-only group faecaloma resolution was observed in 5 children on the second day and in 2 children on the third day, while in the PEG-EL group it was observed in 2 children on the second day, in 3 children on the third day and in 1 child on the fifth day.
Only 2 patients reported mild treatment-related adverse events: 1 child in the PEG-only group had diarrhoea and vomiting and 1 child in the PEG-EL group had abdominal pain requiring treatment discontinuation. The PEG-only preparation was better tolerated as shown by the lower frequency of nausea than in the PEG-EL group.
In the PEG-only group, 96% of patients did not demonstrate any difficulties associated with treatment, as compared with 52% of patients in the PEG-EL group (p < 0.001). Also, the PEG-only formulation taste was better than that of PEG-EL (p < 0.001). The difference between the percentage of subjects who took > 80% of the prescribed dose was in favour of the PEG-only group (98% vs. 88%), though it did not reach a conventional statistical level (p = 0.062).
PEG-only was better tolerated and accepted than PEG-EL in children with chronic constipation. At the higher PEG doses recommended by the manufactures children in the PEG-only group had higher and more regular soft stool frequency than PEG-EL.
Trial registration NCT01592734
PMCID: PMC3511173  PMID: 23152962
Constipation; Laxatives; Children; Polyethylene glycol; Macrogol
8.  Microevolution in fimH Gene of Mucosa-Associated Escherichia coli Strains Isolated from Pediatric Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(4):1408-1417.
Several studies reported increased numbers of mucosa-associated Escherichia coli strains in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), encompassing Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The majority of E. coli strains possess type 1 fimbriae, whose tip fibrillum protein, FimH, naturally undergoes amino acid replacements, an important process in the adaptation of commensal E. coli strains to environmental changes, like those observed in IBD and urinary tract infections. In this study, we analyzed mutational patterns in the fimH gene of 52 mucosa-associated E. coli strains isolated from IBD and non-IBD pediatric patients, in order to investigate microevolution of this genetic trait. FimH-positive strains were also phylogenetically typed and tested for their adhesive ability on Caco-2 cells. Specific FimH alleles for each grouping feature were found. Mutations G66S and V27A were related to CD, while mutations A242V, V163A, and T74I were attributed to UC. Otherwise, the G66S, N70S, and S78N mutations were specifically attributed to B2/D phylogroups. The N70S and A119V mutations were related to adhesive E. coli strains. Phylogroup B2, adhesive, and IBD E. coli strains showed a higher site substitution rate (SSR) in the fimH gene, together with a higher number of mutations. The degree of naïve mucosal inflammation was related to specific FimH alleles. Moreover, we could suggest that the V27A mutation is pathoadaptive for the CD intestinal habitat, while we could also suggest that both the N70S and S78N mutations are related to the more virulent E. coli B2 phylogroup. In conclusion, we found some FimH variants that seem to be more involved than others in the evolution of IBD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3318419  PMID: 22290143
9.  A pediatric non-protein losing Menetrier's disease successfully treated with octreotide long acting release 
Pediatric Menetrier’s disease (MD) is an uncommon, acute, self-limited hypertrophic gastropathy characterized by enlarged gastric folds associated with epithelial hyperplasia and usually accompanied by protein losing gastropathy. Gastric cytomegalovirus infection is found in one third of MD children and its treatment is often associated with remission. Diagnosis often requires full-thickness biopsy due to inability to detect typical histological findings with conventional endoscopic biopsy. We report an uncommon case of non self-limited pediatric MD needing endoscopic mucosal resection for diagnosis which was then successfully treated with octreotide long-acting release (LAR). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first pediatric MD case successfully treated with octreotide LAR. Our experience suggests octreotide LAR as treatment for refractory MD before gastrectomy.
PMCID: PMC3370012  PMID: 22690084
Menetrier’s disease; Octreotide; Endoscopic mucosal resection; Children
10.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Multiprotein Biomarkers in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25545.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal progressive motor neuron disease, for which there are still no diagnostic/prognostic test and therapy. Specific molecular biomarkers are urgently needed to facilitate clinical studies and speed up the development of effective treatments.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used a two-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis approach to identify in easily accessible clinical samples, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), a panel of protein biomarkers that are closely associated with ALS. Validations and a longitudinal study were performed by immunoassays on a selected number of proteins. The same proteins were also measured in PBMC and spinal cord of a G93A SOD1 transgenic rat model. We identified combinations of protein biomarkers that can distinguish, with high discriminatory power, ALS patients from healthy controls (98%), and from patients with neurological disorders that may resemble ALS (91%), between two levels of disease severity (90%), and a number of translational biomarkers, that link responses between human and animal model. We demonstrated that TDP-43, cyclophilin A and ERp57 associate with disease progression in a longitudinal study. Moreover, the protein profile changes detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ALS patients are suggestive of possible intracellular pathogenic mechanisms such as endoplasmic reticulum stress, nitrative stress, disturbances in redox regulation and RNA processing.
Our results indicate that PBMC multiprotein biomarkers could contribute to determine amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis, differential diagnosis, disease severity and progression, and may help to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3187793  PMID: 21998667
11.  Allergic proctocolitis refractory to maternal hypoallergenic diet in exclusively breast-fed infants: a clinical observation 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:82.
Allergic proctocolitis (APC) in exclusively breast-fed infants is caused by food proteins, deriving from maternal diet, transferred through lactation. In most cases a maternal cow milk-free diet leads to a prompt resolution of rectal bleeding, while in some patients a multiple food allergy can occur. The aim of this study was to assess whether the atopy patch test (APT) could be helpful to identify this subgroup of patients requiring to discontinue breast-feeding due to polisensitization. Additionally, we assessed the efficacy of an amino acid-based formula (AAF) when multiple food allergy is suspected. amino acid-based formula
We have prospectively enrolled 14 exclusively breast-fed infants with APC refractory to maternal allergen avoidance. The diagnosis was confirmed by endoscopy with biopsies. Skin prick tests and serum specific IgE for common foods, together with APTs for common foods plus breast milk, were performed. After a 1 month therapy of an AAF all patients underwent a follow-up rectosigmoidoscopy.
Prick tests and serum specific IgE were negative. APTs were positive in 100% infants, with a multiple positivity in 50%. Sensitization was found for breast milk in 100%, cow's milk (50%), soy (28%), egg (21%), rice (14%), wheat (7%). Follow-up rectosigmoidoscopy confirmed the remission of APC in all infants.
These data suggest that APT might become a useful tool to identify subgroups of infants with multiple gastrointestinal food allergy involving a delayed immunogenic mechanism, with the aim to avoid unnecessary maternal dietary restrictions before discontinuing breast-feeding.
PMCID: PMC3224143  PMID: 21762530
allergic proctocolitis; food allergy; breast feeding; patch test
12.  A distinctive 'microbial signature' in celiac pediatric patients 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:175.
Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine in which dietary gluten ingestion leads to a chronic enteropathy. Recently, scientific evidence suggested a potential role of gut microbiota in CD. To have a snapshot of dominant duodenal microbiota we analyzed the mucosa-associated microbiota of 20 children with CD, before and after a gluten-free diet (GFD) regimen, and of 10 controls. Total DNA was extracted from duodenal biopsies and amplification products of 16S ribosomal DNA were compared by temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TTGE). TTGE profiles were analyzed by statistical multivariate analysis.
The average number of bands in TTGE profiles was significantly higher (P < 0.0001) in active (n.b. 16.7 ± 0.7) and inactive states (n.b. 13.2 ± 0.8) than in controls (n.b. 3.7 ± 1.3). Mean interindividual similarity index was 54.9% ± 14.9% for active disease, 55.6% ± 15.7% for remission state and 21.8% ± 30.16% for controls. Similarity index between celiac children before and after GFD treatment was 63.9% ± 15.8%. Differences in microbiota biodiversity were among active and remission state (P = 0.000224) and amid active CD and controls (P < 0.001). Bacteroides vulgatus and Escherichia coli were detected more often in CD patients than in controls (P < 0.0001).
Overall, the results highlighted a peculiar microbial TTGE profile and a significant higher biodiversity in CD pediatric patients' duodenal mucosa. The possible pathophysiological role of these microbial differences needs further characterization.
PMCID: PMC2906462  PMID: 20565734
13.  Characterization of Detergent-Insoluble Proteins in ALS Indicates a Causal Link between Nitrative Stress and Aggregation in Pathogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8130.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and fatal motor neuron disease, and protein aggregation has been proposed as a possible pathogenetic mechanism. However, the aggregate protein constituents are poorly characterized so knowledge on the role of aggregation in pathogenesis is limited.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We carried out a proteomic analysis of the protein composition of the insoluble fraction, as a model of protein aggregates, from familial ALS (fALS) mouse model at different disease stages. We identified several proteins enriched in the detergent-insoluble fraction already at a preclinical stage, including intermediate filaments, chaperones and mitochondrial proteins. Aconitase, HSC70 and cyclophilin A were also significantly enriched in the insoluble fraction of spinal cords of ALS patients. Moreover, we found that the majority of proteins in mice and HSP90 in patients were tyrosine-nitrated. We therefore investigated the role of nitrative stress in aggregate formation in fALS-like murine motor neuron-neuroblastoma (NSC-34) cell lines. By inhibiting nitric oxide synthesis the amount of insoluble proteins, particularly aconitase, HSC70, cyclophilin A and SOD1 can be substantially reduced.
Analysis of the insoluble fractions from cellular/mouse models and human tissues revealed novel aggregation-prone proteins and suggests that nitrative stress contribute to protein aggregate formation in ALS.
PMCID: PMC2780298  PMID: 19956584
14.  Enteric neuropathology of congenital intestinal obstruction: A case report 
Experimental evidence indicates that chronic mechanical sub-occlusion of the intestine may damage the enteric nervous system (ENS), although data in humans are lacking. We here describe the first case of enteric degenerative neuropathy related to a congenital obstruction of the gut. A 3-year and 9-mo old girl began to complain of vomiting, abdominal distension, constipation with air-fluid levels at plane abdominal radiology.
Her subsequent medical history was characterized by 3 operations: the first showed dilated duodeno-jejunal loops in the absence of occlusive lesions; the second (2 years later) was performed to obtain full-thickness biopsies of the dilated intestinal loops and revealed hyperganglionosis at histopathology; the third (9 years after the hyperganglionosis was identified) disclosed a Ladd’s band which was removed and the associated gut malrotation was corrected. Repeated intraoperative full-thickness biopsies showed enteric degenerative neuropathy along with reduced interstitial cells of Cajal network in dilated loops above the obstruction and a normal neuromuscular layer below the Ladd’s band.
One year after the latest surgery the patient tolerated oral feeding and did well, suggesting that congenital (partial) mechanical obstruction of the small bowel in humans can evoke progressive adaptive changes of the ENS which are similar to those found in animal models of intestinal mechanical occlusion. Such ENS changes mimic neuronal abnormalities observed in intestinal pseudo-obstruction.
PMCID: PMC4088026  PMID: 16937539
Enteric neuropathy; Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Congenital intestinal obstruction; Ladd’s band; Enteric nervous system

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