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1.  Association between CASP8 –652 6N Del Polymorphism (rs3834129) and Colorectal Cancer Risk: Results from a Multi-Centric Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85538.
The common −652 6N del variant in the CASP8 promoter (rs3834129) has been described as a putative low-penetrance risk factor for different cancer types. In particular, some studies suggested that the deleted allele (del) was inversely associated with CRC risk while other analyses failed to confirm this. Hence, to better understand the role of this variant in the risk of developing CRC, we performed a multi-centric case-control study. In the study, the variant −652 6N del was genotyped in a total of 6,733 CRC cases and 7,576 controls recruited by six different centers located in Spain, Italy, USA, England, Czech Republic and the Netherlands collaborating to the international consortium COGENT (COlorectal cancer GENeTics). Our analysis indicated that rs3834129 was not associated with CRC risk in the full data set. However, the del allele was under-represented in one set of cases with a family history of CRC (per allele model OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.69–0.90) suggesting this allele might be a protective factor versus familial CRC. Since this multi-centric case-control study was performed on a very large sample size, it provided robust clarification of the effect of rs3834129 on the risk of developing CRC in Caucasians.
PMCID: PMC3897464  PMID: 24465592
2.  Screening of related donors and peripheral blood stem cell collection practices at different Italian apheresis centres 
Blood Transfusion  2012;10(4):440-447.
Recommendations on eligibility criteria for donation of haematopoietic stem cells, management of collection of the cells and follow-up mainly concern unrelated donors. The aim of this study was to analyse the screening of related donors and collection practices at different Italian apheresis centres.
Materials and methods.
A questionnaire regarding eligibility criteria for related haematopoietic stem cell donors, their peripheral blood collections and early follow-up was sent to several apheresis units. Data from the full charts of 500 candidates, screened between May 2005 and December 2009, were retrospectively evaluated.
The donors’ records, eligibility criteria, collections and follow-up are managed differently in each centre. Of the 500 evaluable candidates (51.2% male, 49.8% female; median age 47 years, range 13–77), 26.4% underwent thorough screening according to Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry standards, while local protocols were applied to 73.6%; 91 candidates (18.2%) proved ineligible for donation. In the end, 352 donors (53.4% male, 46.6% female; median age 45 years, range 16–76) underwent 508 leukaphereses. Central venous catheters were used in 8.0% of donors, mainly in one centre. Unsuitable pre-apheresis peripheral blood parameters were reported in 38.7% of the aphereses. Leukapheresis-related adverse events were recorded in 23.0% of the procedures, with a drop-out rate of 0.2% for severe events. No donation-related fatalities occurred. The CD34+ cell yield was <2×106/kg of recipient’s body weight from 1.1% of donors ≥70 years old.
More uniformity in donor screening procedures, management of peripheral blood collection and follow-up should be planned at a national level to maximise the safety of related donors.
PMCID: PMC3496225  PMID: 22871823
related donors; donation eligibility criteria; PBSC collection; donation-related adverse events
3.  Detection of minimal residual disease in hematopoietic progenitor cell harvests: lack of predictive value of peripheral blood and bone marrow analysis in mantle cell and indolent lymphoma 
Elimination of neoplastic cells from peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPCs) is an important issue in transplantation-based high-dose chemotherapy in non Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The capacity to reliably assess the presence of residual lymphoma cells in PBPCs is mandatory in designing this type of protocols. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of molecular rearrangements is widely used to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) in NHL patients. Although concordant data can be obtained in most of the cases from peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) at diagnosis, the relationship between these two compartments and the role of their analysis in predicting the molecular status of PBPCs is still an open issue. Here we report data about MRD analysis in BM, PB and PBPCs in a series of mantle cell and indolent NHL patients who underwent high-dose chemotherapy: discordant results were obtained comparing PB, BM and PBPC molecular data. In addition, differences were noted among these results if molecular analysis was performed using well-known rearrangements (i.e., bcl-1/IgH and bcl-2/IgH) or patient specific oligonucleotides. We conclude that neither BM nor PB are reliable in predicting the molecular status of PBPCs and that caution must be adopted in interpreting molecular data obtained using patient specific oligonucleotides.
PMCID: PMC3384403  PMID: 22762029
Minimal residual disease; peripheral blood; bone marrow; peripheral blood progenitor cells
Cancer research  2010;70(7):2789-2798.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with polygenetic disorders, such as breast cancer (BC), can create, destroy or modify microRNA (miRNA) binding sites; however, the extent to which SNPs interfere with miRNA gene regulation and affect cancer susceptibility remains largely unknown. We hypothesize that disruption of miRNA target binding by SNPsis a widespread mechanism relevant to cancer susceptibility. In order to test this, we analyzed SNPs known to be associated with BC risk, in silico and in vitro, for their ability to modify miRNA binding sites and miRNA gene regulation and referred to these as target SNPs. We identified rs1982073-TGFB1 and rs1799782-XRCC1 as target SNPs, whose alleles could modulate gene expression by differential interaction with miR-187 and miR-138, respectively. Genome-wide bioinformatics analysis predicted approximately 64% of transcribed SNPs as target SNPs that can modify (increase/decrease) the binding energy of putative miRNA::mRNA duplexes by over 90%. To assess whether target SNPs are implicated in BC susceptibility, we conducted a case-control population study and observed that germline occurrence of rs799917-BRCA1 and rs334348-TGFR1, significantly varies among populations with different risks of developing BC. Luciferase activity of target SNPs allelic variants and protein levels in cancer cell lines with different genotypes showed differential regulation of target genes following over-expression of the two interacting miRNAs (miR-638 and miR-628-5p). Therefore, we propose that transcribed target SNPs alter miRNA gene regulation and consequently protein expression, contributing to the likelihood of cancer susceptibility, by a novel mechanism of subtle gene regulation.
PMCID: PMC2853025  PMID: 20332227
Single nucleotide polymorphism; microRNAs; mRNA; BC; tumor susceptibility
5.  The Lipid Moiety of Haemozoin (Malaria Pigment) and P. falciparum Parasitised Red Blood Cells Bind Synthetic and Native Endothelin-1 
Endothelin1 (ET-1) is a 21-amino acid peptide produced by the vascular endothelium under hypoxia, that acts locally as regulator of vascular tone and inflammation. The role of ET-1 in Plasmodium falciparum malaria is unknown, although tissue hypoxia is frequent as a result of the cytoadherence of parasitized red blood cell (pRBC) to the microvasculature. Here, we show that both synthetic and endothelial-derived ET-1 are removed by parasitized RBC (D10 and W2 strains, chloroquine sensitive, and resistant, resp.) and native haemozoin (HZ, malaria pigment), but not by normal RBC, delipidized HZ, or synthetic beta-haematin (BH). The effect is dose dependent, selective for ET-1, but not for its precursor, big ET-1, and not due to the proteolysis of ET-1. The results indicate that ET-1 binds to the lipids moiety of HZ and membranes of infected RBCs. These findings may help understanding the consequences of parasite sequestration in severe malaria.
PMCID: PMC2829634  PMID: 20204072
6.  Sequential chemotherapy, high-dose thiotepa, circulating progenitor cell rescue, and radiotherapy for childhood high-grade glioma 
Neuro-Oncology  2005;7(1):41-48.
Childhood malignant gliomas are rare, but their clinical behavior is almost as aggressive as in adults, with resistance to therapy, rapid progression, and not uncommonly, dissemination. Our study protocol incorporated sequential chemotherapy and high-dose thiotepa in the preradiant phase, followed by focal radiotherapy and maintenance with vincristine and lomustine for a total duration of one year. The induction treatment consisted of two courses of cisplatin (30 mg/m2) plus etoposide (150 mg/m2) × 3 days and of vincristine (1.4 mg/m2) plus cyclophosphamide (1.5 g/m2) plus high-dose methotrexate (8 g/m2), followed by high-dose thiotepa (300 mg/m2 × 3 doses), with harvesting of peripheral blood progenitor cells after the first cisplatin/etoposide course. From August 1996 to March 2003, 21 children, 14 females and 7 males, with a median age of 10 years were enrolled, 18 presenting with residual disease after surgery. Histologies were glioblastoma multiforme in 10, anaplastic astrocytoma in nine, and anaplastic oligodendroglioma in two; sites of origin were supratentorial areas in 17, spine in two, and posterior fossa in two. Of the 21 patients, 12 have died (10 after relapse, with a median time to progression for the whole series of 14 months; one with intratumoral bleeding at 40 months after diagnosis; and one affected by Turcot syndrome for duodenal cancer relapse). Four of 12 relapsed children had tumor dissemination. At a median follow-up of 57 months, overall survival and progression-free survival at four years were 43% and 46%, respectively. Sequential and high-dose chemotherapy can be afforded in front-line therapy of childhood malignant glioma without excessive morbidity and rather encouraging results.
PMCID: PMC1871624  PMID: 15701281

Results 1-6 (6)