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1.  Design and application of a novel PNA probe for the detection at single cell level of JAK2V617F mutation in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:348.
Background
Mutation(s) of the JAK2 gene (V617F) has been described in a significant proportion of Philadelphia negative Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) patients and its detection is now a cornerstone in the diagnostic algorithm.
Methods
We developed a novel assay based on peptide nucleic acid (PNA) technology coupled to immuno-fluorescence microscopy (PNA-FISH) for the specific detection at a single cell level of JAK2-mutation thus improving both the diagnostic resolution and the study of clonal prevalence.
Results
Using this assay we found a percentage of mutated CD34+ cells ranging from 40% to 100% in Polycythemia Vera patients, from 15% to 80% in Essential Thrombocythemia and from 25% to 100% in Primary Myelofibrosis. This method allows to distinguish, with a high degree of specificity, at single cell level, between CD34+ progenitor stem cells harbouring the mutated or the wild type form of JAK2 in NPM patients.
Conclusions
This method allows to identify multiple gene abnormalities which will be of paramount relevance to understand the pathophysiology and the evolution of any type of cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-348
PMCID: PMC3728119  PMID: 23865766
JAK2; Myeloproliferative neoplasms; PNA
2.  BRAF MUTATIONS IN HAIRY CELL LEUKEMIA 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;364(24):2305-2315.
Background
Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is a well defined clinico-pathological entity whose underlying genetic lesion is still obscure.
Methods
We searched for HCL-associated mutations by massively parallel sequencing of the whole exome of leukemic and matched normal mononuclear cells purified from the peripheral blood of one patient with HCL.
Results
Whole exome sequencing identified 5 missense somatic clonal mutations that were confirmed at Sanger sequencing, including a heterozygous V600E mutation involving the BRAF gene. Since the BRAF V600E mutation is oncogenic in other tumors, further analyses were focused on this genetic lesion. Sanger sequencing detected mutated BRAF in 46/46 additional HCL patients (47/47 including the index case; 100%). None of the 193 peripheral B-cell lymphomas/leukemias other than HCL that were investigated carried the BRAF V600E mutation, including 36 cases of splenic marginal zone lymphomas and unclassifiable splenic lymphomas/leukemias. Immunohistological and Western blot studies showed that HCL cells express phospho-MEK and phospho-ERK (the downstream targets of the BRAF kinase), indicating a constitutive activation of the RAF-MEK-ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in HCL. In vitro incubation of BRAF-mutated primary leukemic cells from 5 HCL patients with PLX-4720, a specific inhibitor of active BRAF, led to marked decrease of phosphorylated ERK and MEK.
Conclusions
The BRAF V600E mutation was present in all HCL patients investigated. This finding may have relevant implications for the pathogenesis, diagnosis and targeted therapy of HCL (Funded by the Associazione Italiana Ricerca Cancro and others).
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1014209
PMCID: PMC3689585  PMID: 21663470
3.  Autoimmune Cytopenias in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
The clinical course of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) may be complicated at any time by autoimmune phenomena.The most common ones are hematologic disorders, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) and autoimmune agranulocytosis (AG) are, indeed, more rarely seen. However, they are probably underestimated due to the possible misleading presence of cytopenias secondary to leukemic bone marrow involvement or to chemotherapy cytotoxicity. The source of autoantibodies is still uncertain, despite the most convincing data are in favor of the involvement of resting normal B-cells. In general, excluding the specific treatment of underlying CLL, the managementof these complications is not different from that of idiopathic autoimmune cytopenias or of those associated to other causes. Among different therapeutic approaches, monoclonal antibody rituximab, given alone or in combination, has shown to be very effective.
doi:10.1155/2013/730131
PMCID: PMC3652131  PMID: 23690826
4.  Regulatory T-cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: actor or innocent bystander? 
Regulatory T (Treg) cells are now under extensive investigation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This small subset of T-cells has been, in fact, considered to be involved in the pathogenesis and progression of CLL. However, whether Treg dysregulation in CLL plays a key role or it rather represents a simple epiphenomenon is still matter of debate. In the former case, Treg cells could be appealing for targeting therapies. Finally, Treg cells have also been proposed as a prognostic indicator of the disease clinical course.
PMCID: PMC3555189  PMID: 23358515
Tregs; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; prognosis
5.  An Urologic Face of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Sequential Prostatic and Penis Localization 
We report a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in whom a leukemic involvement of prostate and penis occurred in the advanced phase of his disease. Obstructive urinary symptoms were indicative of prostatic CLL infiltration, followed by the occurrence of an ulcerative lesion on the glans. Histologic examination confirmed the neoplastic B-cell infiltration. Both localizations responded to conventional treatments. A review of the literature confirms that leukemic involvement of the genito-urinary system is uncommon in CLL patients. However, it should be considered in CLL patients with urologic symptoms and a long history of the disease.
doi:10.4084/MJHID.2013.008
PMCID: PMC3552818  PMID: 23350021
6.  Fournier’s Gangrene Complicating Hematologic Malignancies: a Case Report and Review of Licterature 
Fournier’s gangrene (FG) is a rare but severe necrotizing fasciitis of the external genitalia that may complicate the clinical course of hematologic malignancies and sometimes may be the first sign of the disease. The clinical course of FG is very aggressive and the mortality is still high despite the improvement in its management. Early recognition of FG and prompt appropriate treatment with surgical debridement and administration of antibiotics are the cornerstone of the management of this very severe disease. A review of the scientific literature focusing on the topic of FG complicating hematologic disorders is reported
doi:10.4084/MJHID.2013.067
PMCID: PMC3867231  PMID: 24363882
7.  Outcome of therapy-related myeloid neoplasms treated with azacitidine 
Background
Therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (t-MN), including myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (t-MDS and t-AML) are associated to clinical and biologic unfavorable prognostic features, including high levels of DNA methylation.
Methods
We retrospectively evaluated 50 t-MN patients (34 MDS and 16 AML) selected among all patients receiving azacitidine (AZA) at 10 Italian Hematology Centers. Patients had developed a t-MN at a median of 6.5 years (range 1.7- 29) after treatment of the primary tumor (hematological neoplasm, 27 patients; solid tumor, 23 patients).
Results
The overall response rate was 42% (complete remission: 10 patients, partial remission: 2 and hematological improvement: 8 patients) and was obtained after a median of 3 cycles (range 1–6). Median overall survival (OS) was 21 months (range 1–53.6+) from AZA start. OS was significantly better in patients with less than 20% blasts, in normal karyotype t-AML and when AZA was used as front-line treatment. This was confirmed by the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions
This study reports efficacy of AZA in the largest series of therapy-related MN patients treated with 5-AZA. Our data show that blasts and karyotype maintain their important prognostic role in t-MN also in the azacitidine era.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-5-44
PMCID: PMC3419605  PMID: 22853048
Therapy related myeloid neoplasms; Hypomethylating agents
8.  Quality of life and physicians' perception in myelodysplastic syndromes 
To detect factors associated with quality of life (QOL) of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and to compare the MDS patients’ self-assessed QOL with that perceived by their physicians. In an observational, non-interventional, prospective, multicentre study, QOL was evaluated in 148 patients with newly diagnosed low- and intermediate-risk IPSS MDS. QOL measures (QOL-E v.2, LASA and EQ-5D) and patient-related candidate determinants of QOL were assessed for up to 18 months. Patients' QOL scores were compared with those obtained by appointed hematologists’ assessment and with ECOG performance status (PS). Fatigue was not prevalent at diagnosis, though physical QOL and energy levels were low. Transfusion-dependent patients had worse QOL scores. In multivariate analysis, Hb levels and comorbidities were a major determinant of QOL. Physicians’ perception of patients’ well-being correlated with patients’ QOL. Physicians underestimated the impact of disturbances on patients’ QOL, mainly in the MDS-specific components. ECOG PS did not discriminate patients according to QOL status. In conclusion, the association of anemia with QOL is confirmed, while co-morbidities emerge as an independent predictor of QOL in MDS. Fatigue is not a major concern. ECOG PS is not a valuable surrogate of patient’s QOL, thus highlighting that physician’s judgment of patient’s well-being must not substitute patient-reported outcomes. Appropriate questionnaires should be used to assess MDS patients’ QOL in order to improve communication and therapeutic choice.
PMCID: PMC3384400  PMID: 22762033
Myelodysplastic syndromes; quality of life; comorbidities; anemia; transfusion-dependence; patient-reported outcomes
9.  Regulatory T-Cells in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Autoimmune Diseases 
Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) constitute a small subset of cells that are actively involved in maintaining self-tolerance, in immune homeostasis and in antitumor immunity. They are thought to play a significant role in the progression of cancer and are generally increased in patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Their number correlates with more aggressive disease status and is predictive of the time to treatment, as well. Moreover, it is now clear that dysregulation in Tregs cell frequency and/or function may result in a plethora of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, myasthenia gravis, systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune lymphoproliferative disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. Efforts are made aiming to develop approaches to deplete Tregs or inhibit their function in cancer and autoimmune disorders, as well.
doi:10.4084/MJHID.2012.053
PMCID: PMC3435126  PMID: 22973497
10.  Employment of Oligodeoxynucleotide plus Interleukin-2 Improves Cytogenetic Analysis in Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma 
To compare the efficiency of novel mitogenic agents and traditional mitosis inductors, 18 patients with splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL) were studied. Three cultures using oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) plus interleukin-2 (IL-2), or TPA, or LPS were setup in each patient. Seventeen/18 cases with ODN + IL2 had moderate/good proliferation (94, 4%) as compared with 10/18 cases with TPA and LPS (55%) (P = .015); 14/18 (77, 7%) cases with ODN + IL2 had sufficient good quality of banding as compared with 8/18 cases (44, 4%) with TPA and LPS. The karyotype could be defined from ODN + IL2-stimulated cultures in all 18 patients, 14 of whom (77, 7%) had a cytogenetic aberration, whereas clonal aberrations could be documented in 9 and in 3 cases by stimulation with LPS and TPA, respectively. Recurrent chromosome aberrations in our series were represented by aberrations of chromosome 14q in 5 patients, by trisomy 12 and 7q deletion in 4 cases each, and by abnormalities involving 11q and 13q in two cases each. These findings show that stimulation with ODN + IL2 offers more mitotic figures of better quality and results in an increased rate of clonal aberrations in SMZL, making this method ideal for prospective studies aiming at the definition of the prognostic impact of cytogenetic aberrations in this disorder.
doi:10.1155/2011/691493
PMCID: PMC3100609  PMID: 21629757

Results 1-10 (10)