Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (37)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
more »
1.  The Intracerebroventricular injection of rimonabant inhibits systemic lipopolysaccharide-induced lung inflammation 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2015;286:16-24.
We investigated the role of intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of rimonabant (500 ng), a CB1 antagonist, on lipopolysaccharide ((LPS) 5mg/kg)-induced pulmonary inflammation in rats in an isolated perfused lung model. There were decreases in pulmonary capillary pressure (Ppc) and increases in the ((Wet-Dry)/Dry lung weight)/(Ppc) ratio in the ICV-vehicle/LPS group at 4 hours. There were decreases in TLR4 pathway markers, such as interleukin receptor-associated kinase-1, IκBα, Raf1 and phospho-SFK(Tyr416) at 30min and at 4hr increases in IL-6, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and myeloperoxidase in lung homogenate. Intracerebroventricular rimonabant attenuated these LPS-induced responses, indicating that ICV rimonabant modulates LPS-initiated pulmonary inflammation.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4548270  PMID: 26298320
CB1 receptor; rimonabant; pulmonary edema; lipopolysaccharide; TLR4; inflammation
2.  A pilot Phase I study combining peptide-based vaccination and NGR-hTNF vessel targeting therapy in metastatic melanoma 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3(11):e963406.
Administration of NGR-TNF, a tumor vessel-targeting and tumor necrosis factor α TNFα) peptide conjugate, with immunotherapy has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in mice. Thus, we planned a Phase I pilot clinical trial to assess safety, immune and clinical response of this combination treatment for advanced melanoma. NA17.A2 and MAGE-3.A1 peptides were used as vaccine. HLA-A*0201 or HLA-A*01 metastatic melanoma patients received human NGR-hTNF i.v. alternating with s.c. weekly injections of either of the peptides emulsified in Montanide. The T-cell response was assessed ex-vivo using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before, during and after therapy. The serum level of chromogranin A (CgA), soluble TNF receptors (sTNFR1/2), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and MIP-1β and MCP-1 chemokines, was determined. In 3 subjects, pre- and post-treatment tumor lesions were examined by immunohistochemistry. Clinically, chills were observed in 4 patients during NGR-hTNF infusion and erythema at vaccination site was seen in 7 patients. T-cell response against the vaccine or against other melanoma-associated antigens was detectable after treatment in 6 out of 7 tested patients. Low level or reduction of CgA and sTNFR and increase of MIP-1β and MCP-1 were found in patients sera. In the lesions examined the immune infiltrate was scanty but macrophage number increased in post-therapy lesions. From a clinical standpoint, a long term survival (>4 months) was found in 6 out of 8 evaluable patients (4, 4, 7, 11, 23+, 25+, 25+, 29+ months). The combination of NGR-hTNF and vaccine in metastatic melanoma patients was well tolerated, often associated with an ex-vivo T cell response and long-term overall survival. These findings warrant confirmation in a larger group of patients.
PMCID: PMC4368149  PMID: 25941591
anti-vascular target therapy; combination therapy; inflammatory cytokines; melanoma; peptide-based vaccines; T cells; APC, antigen presenting cell; CgA, chromogranin A; CT, cancer/testis; DFS, disease-free survival; MAA, melanoma-associated antigens; MCP-1, macrophage chemoattractant protein 1; MIP-1β, macrophage inflammatory protein 1β; OS, overall survival; PD, progression of disease; PFS, progression-free survival; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cell; RR, response rate; sTNFR, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor; TNFα, tumor necrosis factor α
3.  Peptide-based vaccines for cancer therapy 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2014;10(11):3175-3178.
Interest for cancer vaccination started more than 30 years ago after the demonstration that both in animal models and later on in patients it is possible to generate anti-tumor immune responses. The clinical application of this knowledge, however, was disappointing.
In this review we summarize results on peptides epitopes recognized by T cells that have been studied thanks to their easy synthesis and the lack of significant side effects when administered in-vivo. To improve the clinical efficacy, peptides were modified in their aminoacid sequence to augment their immunogenicity. Peptides vaccines were recently shown to induce a high frequency of immune response in patients that were accompanied by clinical efficacy. These data are discussed at the light of recent progression of immunotherapy caused by the addition of check-point antibodies thus providing a general picture of the potential therapeutic efficacy of the peptide-based vaccines and their combination with other biological agents.
PMCID: PMC4514143  PMID: 25483658
cancer; vaccination; antigens; epitopes; immune responses
4.  Gender-specific effects on food intake but no inhibition of age-related fat accretion in transgenic mice overexpressing human IGFBP-2 lacking the Cardin-Weintraub sequence motif 
IGFBP-2 affects growth and metabolism and is thought to impact on energy homeostasis and the accretion of body fat via its heparin binding domains (HBD). In order to assess the function of the HBD present in the linker domain (HBD1) we have generated transgenic mice overexpressing mutant human IGFBP-2 lacking the PKKLRP sequence and carrying a PNNLAP sequence instead. Transgenic mice expressed high amounts of human IGFBP-2, while endogenous IGFBP-2 or IGF-I serum concentrations were not affected. In both genders we performed a longitudinal analysis of growth and metabolism including at least 4 separate time points between the age of 10 and 52 weeks. Body composition was assessed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis. Food intake was recorded by an automated online-monitoring. We describe negative effects of mutant human IGFBP-2 on body weight, longitudinal growth and lean body mass (p < 0.05). Very clearly, negative effects of mutant IGFBP-2 were not observed for fat mass accretion throughout life. Instead, relative fat mass was increased in transgenic mice of both genders (p < 0.05). In male mice transgene expression significantly increased absolute mass of total body fat over all age groups (p < 0.05). Food intake was increased in female but decreased in male transgenic mice at an age of 11 weeks. Thus our study clearly provides gender- and time-specific effects of HBD1-deficient hIGFBP-2 (H1d-BP-2) on fat mass accretion and food intake. While our data are in principal agreement with current knowledge on the role of HB-domains for fat accretion we now may also speculate on a role of HBD1 for the control of eating behavior.
PMCID: PMC4458247  PMID: 25663268
IGFBP-2; Age; Gender; Growth; Metabolism; Energy; Obesity; Transgenic; Mouse; Heparin; Food intake
5.  IGFBP-2 - taking the lead in growth, metabolism and cancer 
The activity of the Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGFs) ligands elicited via their receptors and transduced by various intracellular signal pathways is modulated by the IGF Binding Proteins (IGFBPs). Among all the IGFBPs, IGFBP-2 has been implicated in the regulation of IGF activity in most tissue and organs. Besides binding to IGFs in the circulation these IGF-regulatory activities of IGFBP-2 involve interactions with components of the extracellular matrix, cell surface proteoglycans and integrin receptors. In addition to these local peri-cellular activities, IGFBP-2 exerts other key functions within the nucleus, where IGFBP-2 directly or indirectly promotes transcriptional activation of specific genes. All of these IGFBP-2 activities, intrinsic or dependent on IGFs, contribute to its functional roles in growth/development, metabolism and malignancy as evidenced by studies in IGFBP-2 animal models and also by many in vitro studies. Finally, preclinical studies have demonstrated that IGFBP-2 administration can be beneficial in improving metabolic responses (inhibition of adipogenesis and enhanced insulin sensitivity), while blockade of IGFBP-2 appears to be an effective approach to inhibiting tumour growth and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4458250  PMID: 25617050
IGF system; IGFBP-2; Growth; Metabolism; Obesity; Diabetes; Leukaemia; Lung cancer; Colon cancer
6.  Novel nonpharmacologic approaches for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: results from clinical trials 
Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, confers a 5-fold risk of stroke that increases to 17-fold when associated with mitral stenosis. At this time, the most effective long-term solution to protect patients from stroke and thromboembolism is oral anticoagulation, either with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) or a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC). Despite the significant benefits they confer, both VKAs and NOACs are underused because of their increased potential for bleeding, and VKAs are underused because of their narrow therapeutic range, need for regular international normalized ratio checks, and interactions with food or medications. In patients with nonvalvular AF, approximately 90% of strokes originate from the left atrial appendage (LAA); in patients with rheumatic mitral valve disease, many patients (60%) have strokes that originate from the left atrium itself. Surgical LAA amputation or closure, although widely used to reduce stroke risk in association with cardiac surgery, is not currently performed as a stand-alone operation for stroke risk reduction because of its invasiveness. Percutaneous LAA closure, as an alternative to anticoagulation, has been increasingly used during the last decade in an effort to reduce stroke risk in nonvalvular AF. Several devices have been introduced during this time, of which one has demonstrated noninferiority compared with warfarin in a randomized controlled trial. This review describes the available technologies for percutaneous LAA closure, as well as a summary of the published trials concerning their safety and efficacy in reducing stroke risk in AF.
PMCID: PMC4319717  PMID: 25678828
left atrial appendage closure; atrial fibrillation; CHADS
7.  Endovascular Treatment of an Aortic Traumatic Double Rupture 
Traumatic thoracic aortic rupture is a life-threatening condition; aortic isthmus is the most common site of rupture, but in rare cases traumatic injury can localize elsewhere, such as at aortic arch or at the level of the diaphragm. In the past few years, endovascular treatment of traumatic aortic injury became a safe procedure, with lower mortality and complication, if compared with open surgery. We report a case of a 40-year-old-man admitted to emergency department after a violent car crash in which an aortic traumatic double rupture was successfully treated with two endovascular stent-grafts coverage.
PMCID: PMC4378674  PMID: 25859315
Trauma; Thoracic Aorta; Aortic Rupture; Endovascular Stent Graft; Endovascular Procedure; Emergency
8.  Ventricular fibrillation induced by coagulating mode bipolar electrocautery during pacemaker implantation in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 patient 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(3):149-151.
The occurrence of ventricular fibrillation, induced by bipolar electrocautery during elective dual chamber pacemaker implantation, is reported in a patient affected by Myotonic Distrophy type 1 with normal left ventricular ejection fraction
PMCID: PMC4369847  PMID: 25873784
ventricular fibrillation; bipolar electrocautery; pacemaker implantation; Myotonic Dystrophy type 1
9.  The effect of atrial preference pacing on atrial fibrillation electrophysiological substrate in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 population 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(3):127-135.
P-wave dispersion is a non invasive indicator of intra-atrial conduction heterogeneity producing substrate for reentry, which is a pathophysiological mechanism of atrial fibrillation. The relationship between P-wave dispersion (PD) and atrial fibrillation (AF) in Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients is still unclear. Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) is an efficient algorithm to prevent paroxysmal AF in patients implanted with dual-chamber pacemaker. Aim of our study was to evaluate the possible correlation between atrial preference pacing algorithm, P-wave dispersion and AF burden in DM1 patients with normal cardiac function underwent permanent dual-chamber pacemaker implantation.
We enrolled 50 patients with DM1 (age 50.3 ± 7.3; 11 F) underwent dual-chamber pacemaker implantation for various degree of atrioventricula block. The study population was randomized following 1 months stabilization period to APP algorithm features programmed OFF or ON. Patients were assessed every 3 months for the first year, and every 6 months thereafter up to 3 years. At each follow-up visit, we counted: the number of premature atrial beats, the number and the mean duration of AF episodes, AF burden and the percentage of atrial and ventricular pacing.
APP ON Group showed lower number of AF episodes (117 ± 25 vs. 143 ± 37; p = 0.03) and AF burden (3059 ± 275 vs. 9010 ± 630 min; p < 0.04) than APP OFF Group. Atrial premature beats count (44903 ± 30689 vs. 13720 ± 7717 beats; p = 0.005) and Pwave dispersion values (42,1 ± 11 ms vs. 29,1 ± 4,2 ms, p = 0,003) were decreased in APP ON Group. We found a significant positive correlation between PD and AF burden (R = 0,8, p = 0.007).
Atrial preference pacing algorithm, decreasing the number of atrial premature beats and the P-wave dispersion, reduces the onset and perpetuator factors of AF episodes and decreases the AF burden in DM1 patients underwent dual chamber pacemaker implantation for various degree of atrioventricular blocks and documented atrial fibrillation.
PMCID: PMC4369849  PMID: 25873781
atrial fibrillation; Myotonic Dystrophy; atrial preference pacing
10.  Adenosine-induced sinus tachycardia in a patient with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(2):104-106.
We report the case of a 32-year-old man with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 showing adenosine-induced sinus tachycardia during transesophageal electrophysiological evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4299166  PMID: 25709381
sinus tachycardia; adenosine; proarrhythmic effect; myotonic dystrophy
11.  Far field R-wave sensing in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1: right atrial appendage versus Bachmann's bundle region lead placement 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(2):94-99.
Aim of the present study was to investigate far field R-wave sensing (FFRS) timing and characteristics in 34 Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients undergoing dual chamber pacemaker implantation, comparing Bachmann's bundle (BB) stimulation (16 patients) site with the conventional right atrial appendage (RAA) pacing site (18 patients). All measurements were done during sinus rhythm and in supine position, with unipolar (UP) and bipolar (BP) sensing configuration. The presence, amplitude threshold (FFRS trsh) and FFRS timing were determined. There were no differences between both atrial sites in the Pmin and Pmean values of sensed P-wave amplitudes, as well as between UP and BP sensing configurations. The FFRS trsh was lower at the BB region in comparison to the RAA site. The mean BP FFRS trsh was significantly lower than UP configuration in both atrial locations. There were no significant differences in atrial pacing threshold, sensing threshold and atrial lead impedances at the implant time and at FFRS measurements. Bachmann's bundle area is an optimal atrial lead position for signal sensing as well as conventional RAA, but it offers the advantage of reducing the oversensing of R-wave on the atrial lead, thus improving functioning of standard dual chamber pacemakers in DM1 patients.
PMCID: PMC4299168  PMID: 25709379
far field; oversensing; far field R-wave sensing; myotonic dystrophy type 1; atrial lead; Bachmann's bundle
12.  Atrial Fibrillation and Beta Thalassemia Major: The Predictive Role of the 12-lead Electrocardiogram Analysis 
Paroxysmal atrial tachyarrhythmias frequently occur in beta-thalassemia major (β-TM) patients.The aim of our study was to investigate the role of maximum P-wave duration (P max) and dispersion (PD), calculated trough a new manually performed measurement with the use of computer software from all 12-ECG-leads,as predictors of atrial-fibrillation (AF) in β-TM patients with conserved systolic or diastolic cardiac function during a twelve-months follow-up.
Materials and Methods
50 β-TM-patients (age38.4±10.1; 38M) and 50-healthy subjects used as controls, matched for age and gender, were studied for the occurrence of atrial arrhythmias during a 1-year follow-up, through ECG-Holter-monitoring performed every three months. The β-TM-patients were divided into two groups according to number and complexity of premature-supraventricular-complexes at the Holter-Monitoring (Group1: <30/h and no repetitive forms, n:35; Group2: >30/h or couplets, or run of supraventricular tachycardia and AF, n:15).
Compared to the healthy control-group, β-TM patients presented increased P-max (107.5± 21.2 vs 92.1±11ms, P=0.03) and PD-values (41.2±13 vs 25.1±5 ms,P=0.03). In the β-TM population, the Group2 showed a statistically significant increase in PD (42.8±8.6 vs 33.2±6.5ms, P<0.001) and P-max (118.1±8.7 vs 103.1±7.5ms, P<0.001) compared to the Group1. Seven β-TM patients who showed paroxysmal AF during this study had significantly increased P-max and PD than the other patients of the Group2. Moreover, P-max (OR:2.01; CI:1.12-3.59; P=0.01) and PD (OR=2.06;CI:1.17-3.64;P=0.01) demonstrated a statistically significant association with the occurrence of paroxysmal AF,P min was not associated with AF-risk (OR=0.99; CI:0.25-3.40; P=0.9) in β-TM-patients. A cut-off value of 111ms for P-max had a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 87%, a cut-off value of 35.5ms for PD had a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 85% in identifying β-TM patients at risk for AF.
Our results indicate that P-max and PD are useful electrocardiographic markers for identifying the β-TM-high-risk patients for AF onset, even when the cardiac function is conserved.
PMCID: PMC4032779  PMID: 24948851
beta-thalassemia major; P-wave dispersion; atrial fibrillation
13.  The oxysterol–CXCR2 axis plays a key role in the recruitment of tumor-promoting neutrophils 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(9):1711-1728.
Tumor-derived oxysterols recruit protumor neutrophils in an LXR-independent, CXCR2-dependent manner, thus favoring tumor growth by promoting neoangiogenesis and immunosuppression.
Tumor-infiltrating immune cells can be conditioned by molecules released within the microenvironment to thwart antitumor immune responses, thereby facilitating tumor growth. Among immune cells, neutrophils play an important protumorigenic role by favoring neoangiogenesis and/or by suppressing antitumor immune responses. Tumor-derived oxysterols have recently been shown to favor tumor growth by inhibiting dendritic cell migration toward lymphoid organs. We report that tumor-derived oxysterols recruit protumor neutrophils in a liver X receptor (LXR)–independent, CXCR2-dependent manner, thus favoring tumor growth by promoting neoangiogenesis and immunosuppression. We demonstrate that interfering with the oxysterol–CXCR2 axis delays tumor growth and prolongs the overall survival of tumor-bearing mice. These results identify an unanticipated protumor function of the oxysterol–CXCR2 axis and a possible target for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3754872  PMID: 23897983
14.  Atrial fibrillation burden in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker: the efficacy of the overdrive atrial algorithm at 2 year follow-up 
Acta Myologica  2013;32(3):142-147.
The role that atrial pacing therapy plays on the atrial fibrillation (AF) burden is still unclear. Aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the atrial preference pacing algorithm on AF burden in patients affected by Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) followed for a long follow up period. Sixty DM1 patients were -implanted with a dual chamber pacemaker (PM) for first degree or symptomatic type 1/type 2 second degree atrio-ventricular blocks- were followed for 2-years after implantation, by periodical examination. After 1 month of stabilization, they were randomized into two groups: 1) Patients implanted with conventional dual-chamber pacing mode (DDDR group) and 2) Patients implanted with DDDR plus Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) algorithm (APP ON group).
The results showed that atrial tachycardia (AT)/AF burden was significantly reduced at 1 year follow up in the APP ON group (2122 ± 428 minutes vs 4127 ± 388 minutes, P = 0.03), with a further reduction at the end of the 2 year follow up period (4652 ± 348 minutes vs 7564 ± 638 minutes, P = 0.005).
The data here reported show that the APP is an efficient algorithm to reduce AT/AF burden in DM1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker.
PMCID: PMC4006281  PMID: 24803841
Atrial overdrive algorithm; atrial preference pacing; supraventricular tachyarrhythmias; Myotonic Dystrophy type 1
15.  Oxysterols recruit tumor-supporting neutrophils within the tumor microenvironment 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(11):e26469.
By binding to the liver X receptor (LXR), oxysterols inhibit the expression of chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 7 (CCR7), hence impairing the migration of dendritic cells to secondary lymphoid organs and inhibiting antitumor immune responses. We have recently identified a new tumor-supporting activity of oxysterols, which recruit neutrophils within tumor microenvironment by a chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 2 (CXCR2)-dependent, LXR-independent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3897566  PMID: 24490125
CXCR2; immune evasion; microenvironment; oxysterols; tumor-infiltrating neutrophils
16.  SNPs detection in DHPS-WDR83 overlapping genes mapping on porcine chromosome 2 in a QTL region for meat pH 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:99.
The pH is an important parameter influencing technological quality of pig meat, a trait affected by environmental and genetic factors. Several quantitative trait loci associated to meat pH are described on PigQTL database but only two genes influencing this parameter have been so far detected: Ryanodine receptor 1 and Protein kinase, AMP-activated, gamma 3 non-catalytic subunit. To search for genes influencing meat pH we analyzed genomic regions with quantitative effect on this trait in order to detect SNPs to use for an association study.
The expressed sequences mapping on porcine chromosomes 1, 2, 3 in regions associated to pork pH were searched in silico to find SNPs. 356 out of 617 detected SNPs were used to genotype Italian Large White pigs and to perform an association analysis with meat pH values recorded in semimembranosus muscle at about 1 hour (pH1) and 24 hours (pHu) post mortem.
The results of the analysis showed that 5 markers mapping on chromosomes 1 or 3 were associated with pH1 and 10 markers mapping on chromosomes 1 or 2 were associated with pHu. After False Discovery Rate correction only one SNP mapping on chromosome 2 was confirmed to be associated to pHu. This polymorphism was located in the 3’UTR of two partly overlapping genes, Deoxyhypusine synthase (DHPS) and WD repeat domain 83 (WDR83). The overlapping of the 3’UTRs allows the co-regulation of mRNAs stability by a cis-natural antisense transcript method of regulation. DHPS catalyzes the first step in hypusine formation, a unique amino acid formed by the posttranslational modification of the protein eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A in a specific lysine residue. WDR83 has an important role in the modulation of a cascade of genes involved in cellular hypoxia defense by intensifying the glycolytic pathway and, theoretically, the meat pH value.
The involvement of the SNP detected in the DHPS/WDR83 genes on meat pH phenotypic variability and their functional role are suggestive of molecular and biological processes related to glycolysis increase during post-mortem phase. This finding, after validation, can be applied to identify new biomarkers to be used to improve pig meat quality.
PMCID: PMC4124853  PMID: 24103193
Swine; Meat pH; Single nucleotide polymorphism; DHPS; WDR83; Overlapping genes
17.  Comprehensive Genomic Characterization of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma Cell Lines Derived from Metastatic Lesions by Whole-Exome Sequencing and SNP Array Profiling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63597.
Cutaneous malignant melanoma is the most fatal skin cancer and although improved comprehension of its pathogenic pathways allowed to realize some effective molecular targeted therapies, novel targets and drugs are still needed. Aiming to add genetic information potentially useful for novel targets discovery, we performed an extensive genomic characterization by whole-exome sequencing and SNP array profiling of six cutaneous melanoma cell lines derived from metastatic patients. We obtained a total of 3,325 novel coding single nucleotide variants, including 2,172 non-synonymous variants. We catalogued the coding mutations according to Sanger COSMIC database and to a manually curated list including genes involved in melanoma pathways identified by mining recent literature. Besides confirming the presence of known melanoma driver mutations (BRAFV600E, NRASQ61R), we identified novel mutated genes involved in signalling pathways crucial for melanoma pathogenesis and already addressed by current targeted therapies (such as MAPK and glutamate pathways). We also identified mutations in four genes (MUC19, PAICS, RBMXL1, KIF23) never reported in melanoma, which might deserve further investigations. All data are available to the entire research community in our Melanoma Exome Database (at In summary, these cell lines are valuable biological tools to improve the genetic comprehension of this complex cancer disease and to study functional relevance of individual mutational events, and these findings could provide insights potentially useful for identification of novel therapeutic targets for cutaneous malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3660556  PMID: 23704925
18.  Childhood obesity, overweight and underweight: a study in primary schools in Milan 
Eating and Weight Disorders  2013;18(2):183-191.
The study aims to assess the prevalence of obesity, overweight and underweight in children enrolled in government primary schools (6–11 years of age) in the city of Milan, Italy.
One hundred and nine schools were randomly selected for the study. A cross-sectional study was conducted between March and June 2008. A survey was conducted using 16,588 questionnaires completed by parents. Anthropometric data (reported) of both parents and children and information on levels of physical activity and time children spent watching television (TV) were obtained.
In the total sample, parents are predominantly (75.0 %) of normal weight (M: 55.2 %; F: 79.1 %), 16.8 % are overweight (M: 36.9 %; F: 12.6 %), 4.0 % are obese (M: 6.6 %; F: 3.5 %) and 4.2 % are underweight (M: 1.3 %; F: 4.8 %). Among children, 68.7 % are of normal weight (M: 68.2 %; F: 69.2 %), 14.7 % are overweight (M: 15.3 %; F: 14.2 %), 4 % are obese (M: 4.5 %; F: 3.4 %), 11.8 % are underweight (M: 11.2 %; F: 12.5 %) and 0.8 % are severely thin (M: 0.9 %; F: 0.7 %). Children practice physical activity once or twice/week (48.3 %), three to four times/week (38.9 %) or five to seven times/week (8.9 %), while 3.9 % of children do not do any exercise. Most children (85.3 %) watch TV from 30 min to 2 h/day.
Contrary to the reported national average, the study shows the presence of only moderate levels of above-average weight and obesity among children. However, it remains important to monitor this phenomenon to raise awareness and to design programs of prevention throughout the country.
PMCID: PMC3664740  PMID: 23760847
Obesity; Overweight; Underweight; Children; Primary schools; Immigrants; Physical activity; TV watching
19.  Characterization of affective states by pupillary dynamics and autonomic correlates 
With the recent advent of new recording devices and an easier access to signal processing tools, researchers are increasingly exploring and studying the Pupil Dilation (PD) signal. Recently, numerous studies pointed out the relations between PD dynamics and psychophysiological states. Although it is well known that PD is controlled by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), and ANS responses are related to emotional events/stimuli, the relationship between emotional states and PD is still an open issue. The aim of this study is to define the statistical properties of the PD signal, to understand its relation with ANS correlates such as Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and respiration (RESP), and to explore if PD could provide information for the evaluation of the psychophysiological response of ANS to affective triggering events. ECG, RESP, and PD data from 13 normal subjects were recorded during a memory recall paradigm, and processed with spectral and cross-spectral analysis. Our results demonstrate that variability indices extracted from fast PD oscillations, not observable through standard cardiorespiratory identification in the frequency domain, would be able to discern psychophysiological responses elicited by basic emotional stimuli. A strong linear coupling was found between the variables, due to the influence of RESP on both PD and HRV within the High Frequency (HF) band, from 0.15 to 0.45 Hz. Most importantly, our results point at PD features as possible candidates for characterizing basic emotional stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3818468  PMID: 24223553
pupil dilation (PD); heart rate variability (HRV); autonomic nervous system (ANS); emotions; reconstruction; spectral analysis; very high frequencies; coherence analysis
20.  A genome wide association study for backfat thickness in Italian Large White pigs highlights new regions affecting fat deposition including neuronal genes 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:583.
Carcass fatness is an important trait in most pig breeding programs. Following market requests, breeding plans for fresh pork consumption are usually designed to reduce carcass fat content and increase lean meat deposition. However, the Italian pig industry is mainly devoted to the production of Protected Designation of Origin dry cured hams: pigs are slaughtered at around 160 kg of live weight and the breeding goal aims at maintaining fat coverage, measured as backfat thickness to avoid excessive desiccation of the hams. This objective has shaped the genetic pool of Italian heavy pig breeds for a few decades. In this study we applied a selective genotyping approach within a population of ~ 12,000 performance tested Italian Large White pigs. Within this population, we selectively genotyped 304 pigs with extreme and divergent backfat thickness estimated breeding value by the Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip and performed a genome wide association study to identify loci associated to this trait.
We identified 4 single nucleotide polymorphisms with P≤5.0E-07 and additional 119 ones with 5.0E-07
Further investigations are needed to evaluate the effects of the identified single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with backfat thickness on other traits as a pre-requisite for practical applications in breeding programs. Reported results could improve our understanding of the biology of fat metabolism and deposition that could also be relevant for other mammalian species including humans, confirming the role of neuronal genes on obesity.
PMCID: PMC3499287  PMID: 23153328
GWA; Backfat; Fatness; Obesity; Heavy pig
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is common in patients with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) and is attributed to the development of life-threatening arrhythmias that occur in the presence of normal left ventricular systolic function. Heterogeneity of ventricular repolarization is considered to provide an electrophysiological substrate for malignant arrhythmias. QTc dispersion (QTc-D) and JTc dispersion (JTc-D) are electrocardiographic parameters indicative of heterogeneity of ventricular repolarization. The aim of our study was to evaluate the heterogeneity of ventricular repolarization in patients with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy with preserved systolic and diastolic cardiac function
The study involved 36 EDMD patients (age 20±12, 26 M) and 36 healthy subjects used as controls, matched for age and sex. Heart rate, QRS duration, maximum and minimum QT and JT interval, QTc-D and JTc-D measurements were performed.
Compared to the healthy control group, the EDMD group presented increased values of QTc-D (82.7±44.2 vs. 53.1±13.7; P=0,003) and JTc-D (73.6±32.3 vs. 60.4±11.1 ms; P=0.001). No correlation between QTc dispersion and ejection fraction (R=0.2, P=0.3) was found.
Our study showed a significant increase of QTc-D and JTc-D in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy patients with preserved systolic and diastolic cardiac function.
PMCID: PMC3560603  PMID: 23111739
Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD); sudden cardiac death (SCD); ventricular repolarization; QTc dispersion; JTc dispersion
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46928.
Neuroblastoma (NB), the most common solid extracranial cancer of childhood, displays a remarkable low expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex class I (MHC-I) and Antigen Processing Machinery (APM) molecules, including Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Aminopeptidases, and poorly presents tumor antigens to Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTL). We have previously shown that this is due to low expression of the transcription factor NF-kB p65. Herein, we show that not only NF-kB p65, but also the Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF1) and certain APM components are low in a subset of NB cell lines with aggressive features. Whereas single transfection with either IRF1, or NF-kB p65 is ineffective, co-transfection results in strong synergy and substantial reversion of the MHC-I/APM-low phenotype in all NB cell lines tested. Accordingly, linked immunohistochemistry expression patterns between nuclear IRF1 and p65 on the one hand, and MHC-I on the other hand, were observed in vivo. Absence and presence of the three molecules neatly segregated between high-grade and low-grade NB, respectively. Finally, APM reconstitution by double IRF1/p65 transfection rendered a NB cell line susceptible to killing by anti MAGE-A3 CTLs, lytic efficiency comparable to those seen upon IFN-γ treatment. This is the first demonstration that a complex immune escape phenotype can be rescued by reconstitution of a limited number of master regulatory genes. These findings provide molecular insight into defective MHC-I expression in NB cells and provide the rational for T cell-based immunotherapy in NB variants refractory to conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC3465322  PMID: 23071666
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):139-143.
Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) is a pacemaker (PM) algorithm that works by increasing the atrial pacing rate to achieve continuous suppression of a spontaneous atrial rhythm and prevent supraventricular tachyarrhythmias. We have previously shown that atrial preference pacing may significantly reduce the number and the duration of AF episodes in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients who are paced for standard indications.
However, the role that APP therapies play in the prevention of AF in a long-term period remains still unclear. Aim of the present prospective study was to evaluate whether this beneficial effect is maintained for 24-months follow-up period.
To this aim, 50 patients with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation for first- and second- degree atrioventricular block, were consecutively enrolled and followed for 2 years. One month later the stabilization period, after the implantation, they were randomized to APP algorithm programmed OFF or ON for 6 months each, using a cross-over design, and remained in the same program for the second year. The results showed that while the number of AF episodes during active treatment (APP ON phases) was lower than that registered during no treatment (APP OFF phases), no statistically significant difference was found in AF episodes duration between the two phases. Furthermore, during the APP OFF and APP ON phases, the percentage of atrial pacing was 0 and 99%, respectively, while the percentage of ventricular pacing did not show differences statistically significant (11 vs. 9%, P = 0.2). Atrial premature beats were significantly higher during APP OFF phases than during APP ON phases. Lead parameters remained stable over time and there were no lead-related complications. Based on these 24-months follow-up data, we can conclude that, in DM1 patients who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation, APP is an efficacy algorithm for preventing paroxysmal AF even in long term periods.
PMCID: PMC3476853  PMID: 23097606
myotonic dystrophy; atrial preference pacing; atrial fibrillation
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):154-155.
We report an improvement in symptoms of heart failure, a reduced left ventricular dysfunction and induced reverse remodelling in one patient with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1, showing an early onset ventricular dysfunction secondary to a complete left bundle branch block (LBBB) who underwent cardioverter defibrillator CRT (ICD- CRT) implantation.
PMCID: PMC3476859  PMID: 23097608
myotonic dystrophy; cardiac resynchronization therapy; sudden death
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24729.
We have previously demonstrated that gene therapy can rescue the phenotype and extend lifespan in the delta-sarcoglycan deficient cardiomyopathic hamster. In patients with similar genetic defects, steroids have been largely used to slow down disease progression. Aim of our study was to evaluate the combined effects of steroid treatment and gene therapy on cardiac function. We injected the human delta-sarcoglycan cDNA by adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/8 by a single intraperitoneal injection into BIO14.6 Syrian hamsters at ten days of age to rescue the phenotype. We then treated the hamsters with deflazacort. Treatment was administered to half of the hamsters that had received the AAV and the other hamsters without AAV, as well as to normal hamsters. Both horizontal and vertical activities were greatly enhanced by deflazacort in all groups. As in previous experiments, the AAV treatment alone was able to preserve the ejection fraction (70±7% EF). However, the EF value declined (52±14%) with a combination of AAV and deflazacort. This was similar with all the other groups of affected animals. We confirm that gene therapy improves cardiac function in the BIO14.6 hamsters. Our results suggest that deflazacort is ineffective and may also have a negative impact on the cardiomyopathy rescue, possibly by boosting motor activity. This is unexpected and may have significance in terms of the lifestyle recommendations for patients.
PMCID: PMC3170375  PMID: 21931833

Results 1-25 (37)