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1.  Targeting autophagy as a novel strategy for facilitating the therapeutic action of potentiators on ΔF508 cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator 
Autophagy  2012;8(11):1657-1672.
Channel activators (potentiators) of cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), can be used for the treatment of the small subset of CF patients that carry plasma membrane-resident CFTR mutants. However, approximately 90% of CF patients carry the misfolded ΔF508-CFTR and are poorly responsive to potentiators, because ΔF508-CFTR is intrinsically unstable at the plasma membrane (PM) even if rescued by pharmacological correctors. We have demonstrated that human and mouse CF airways are autophagy deficient due to functional sequestration of BECN1 and that the tissue transglutaminase-2 inhibitor, cystamine, or antioxidants restore BECN1-dependent autophagy and reduce SQSTM1/p62 levels, thus favoring ΔF508-CFTR trafficking to the epithelial surface. Here, we investigated whether these treatments could facilitate the beneficial action of potentiators on ΔF508-CFTR homozygous airways. Cystamine or the superoxide dismutase (SOD)/catalase-mimetic EUK-134 stabilized ΔF508-CFTR at the plasma membrane of airway epithelial cells and sustained the expression of CFTR at the epithelial surface well beyond drug withdrawal, overexpressing BECN1 and depleting SQSTM1. This facilitates the beneficial action of potentiators in controlling inflammation in ex vivo ΔF508-CFTR homozygous human nasal biopsies and in vivo in mouse ΔF508-CFTR lungs. Direct depletion of Sqstm1 by shRNAs in vivo in ΔF508-CFTR mice synergized with potentiators in sustaining surface CFTR expression and suppressing inflammation. Cystamine pre-treatment restored ΔF508-CFTR response to the CFTR potentiators genistein, Vrx-532 or Vrx-770 in freshly isolated brushed nasal epithelial cells from ΔF508-CFTR homozygous patients. These findings delineate a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of CF patients with the ΔF508-CFTR mutation in which patients are first treated with cystamine and subsequently pulsed with CFTR potentiators.
doi:10.4161/auto.21483
PMCID: PMC3494594  PMID: 22874563
cystic fibrosis; autophagy; therapy; cystamine; CFTR potentiators
2.  Macrophage Autophagy in Atherosclerosis 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:584715.
Macrophages play crucial roles in atherosclerotic immune responses. Recent investigation into macrophage autophagy (AP) in atherosclerosis has demonstrated a novel pathway through which these cells contribute to vascular inflammation. AP is a cellular catabolic process involving the delivery of cytoplasmic contents to the lysosomal machinery for ultimate degradation and recycling. Basal levels of macrophage AP play an essential role in atheroprotection during early atherosclerosis. However, AP becomes dysfunctional in the more advanced stages of the pathology and its deficiency promotes vascular inflammation, oxidative stress, and plaque necrosis. In this paper, we will discuss the role of macrophages and AP in atherosclerosis and the emerging evidence demonstrating the contribution of macrophage AP to vascular pathology. Finally, we will discuss how AP could be targeted for therapeutic utility.
doi:10.1155/2013/584715
PMCID: PMC3563164  PMID: 23401644
3.  Nanomaterials Toxicity and Cell Death Modalities 
Journal of Drug Delivery  2012;2012:167896.
In the last decade, the nanotechnology advancement has developed a plethora of novel and intriguing nanomaterial application in many sectors, including research and medicine. However, many risks have been highlighted in their use, particularly related to their unexpected toxicity in vitro and in vivo experimental models. This paper proposes an overview concerning the cell death modalities induced by the major nanomaterials.
doi:10.1155/2012/167896
PMCID: PMC3523142  PMID: 23304518
4.  PEI-Engineered Respirable Particles Delivering a Decoy Oligonucleotide to NF-κB: Inhibiting MUC2 Expression in LPS-Stimulated Airway Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46457.
A specific and promising approach to limit inflammation and mucin iperproduction in chronic lung diseases relies on specific inhibition of nuclear Factor-κB (NF-κB) by a decoy oligonucleotide (dec-ODN). To fulfill the requirements dictated by translation of dec-ODN therapy in humans, inhalable dry powders were designed on a rational basis to provide drug protection, sustained release and to optimize pharmacological response. To this end, large porous particles (LPP) for dec-ODN delivery made of a sustained release biomaterial (poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid, PLGA) and an “adjuvant” hydrophilic polymer (polyethylenimine, PEI) were developed and their effects on LPS-stimulated human airway epithelial cells evaluated. The composite PLGA/PEI particles containing dec-ODN (i.e., LPPPEI) were successfully engineered for widespread deposition in the lung and prolonged release of intact dec-ODN in vitro. LPPPEI caused a prolonged inhibition of IL-8 and MUC2 expression in CF human bronchial epithelial cells and human epithelial pulmonary NCI-H292 cells, respectively, as compared to naked dec-ODN. Nonetheless, as compared to previously developed LPP, the presence of PEI was essential to construct a dec-ODN delivery system able to act in mucoepidermoid lung epithelial cells. In perspective, engineering LPP with PEI may become a key factor for tuning carrier properties, controlling lung inflammation and mucin production which, in turn, can foster in vivo translation of dec-ODN therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046457
PMCID: PMC3463602  PMID: 23056313
5.  Cacospongionolide and Scalaradial, Two Marine Sesterterpenoids as Potent Apoptosis-Inducing Factors in Human Carcinoma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33031.
Apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, is a critical defence mechanism against the formation and progression of cancer and acts by eliminating potentially deleterious cells without causing such adverse effects, as inflammatory response and ensuing scar formation. Therefore, targeting apoptotic pathways becomes an intriguing strategy for the development of chemotherapeutic agents. In last decades, marine natural products, such as sesterterpenoids, have played an important role in the discovery and development of new drugs. Interestingly, many of these compounds have a strong potential as anticancer drugs by inhibiting cell proliferation and/or inducing cell death. In the present study, we investigated the effects of scalaradial and cacospongionolide, two sesterterpenoids from Cacospongia scalaris and Fasciospongia cavernosa marine sponges, on the apoptotic signalling pathway in three different human tumoral cells. Results were obtained by using DNA fragmentation, comet and viability assays, quantification of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and Western blot. The T47D (human breast carcinoma), A431 (human epidermoid carcinoma), HeLa (human cervix carcinoma) and HCT116 (human colon carcinoma) cells were incubated for 24 h with scalaradial or cacospongionolide. Treatment of T47D cells with scalaradial or cacospongionolide for 24 h brought about a significant increase in DNA migration as well as fragmentation. Moreover, incubation of HCT116 and HeLa cells with scalaradial or cacospongionolide for 24 h caused an increased expression of pro-apoptotic proteins. Furthermore, scalaradial or cacospongionolide, added to HCT116 and HeLa cells overnight, induced a significant and concentration-dependent loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, an early apoptosis signalling event. These effects paralleled with those achieved with p50 and p65, NF-κB subunits, nuclear level. In conclusion, scalaradial and cacospongionolide, by determining human cancer cell apoptosis, may represent new promising compounds to inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033031
PMCID: PMC3317917  PMID: 22509253
6.  Regulation of autophagy by cytoplasmic p53 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(6):676-687.
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
doi:10.1038/ncb1730
PMCID: PMC2676564  PMID: 18454141

Results 1-6 (6)