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1.  Arsenic trioxide and ascorbic acid interfere with the BCL2 family genes in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes: an ex-vivo study 
Background
Arsenic Trioxide (ATO) is effective in about 20% of patients with myelodysplasia (MDS); its mechanisms of action have already been evaluated in vitro, but the in vivo activity is still not fully understood. Since ATO induces apoptosis in in vitro models, we compared the expression of 93 apoptotic genes in patients’ bone marrow before and after ATO treatment. For this analysis, we selected 12 patients affected by MDS who received ATO in combination with Ascorbic Acid in the context of the Italian clinical trial NCT00803530, EudracT Number 2005-001321-28.
Methods
Real-time PCR quantitative assays for genes involved in apoptosis were performed using TaqMan® Assays in 384-Well Microfluidic Cards “TaqMan® Human Apoptosis Array”.
Quantitative RT-PCR for expression of EVI1 and WT1 genes was also performed. Gene expression values (Ct) were normalized to the median expression of 3 housekeeping genes present in the card (18S, ACTB and GAPDH).
Results
ATO treatment induced up-regulation of some pro-apoptotic genes, such as HRK, BAK1, CASPASE-5, BAD, TNFRSF1A, and BCL2L14 and down-regulation of ICEBERG. In the majority of cases with stable disease, apoptotic gene expression profile did not change, whereas in cases with advanced MDS more frequently pro-apoptotic genes were up-regulated. Two patients achieved a major response: in the patient with refractory anemia the treatment down-regulated 69% of the pro-apoptotic genes, whereas 91% of the pro-apoptotic genes were up-regulated in the patient affected by refractory anemia with excess of blasts-1. Responsive patients showed a higher induction of BAD than those with stable disease. Finally, WT1 gene expression was down-regulated by the treatment in responsive cases.
Conclusions
These results represent the basis for a possible association of ATO with other biological compounds able to modify the apoptotic pathways, such as inhibitors of the BCL2 family.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-5-53
PMCID: PMC3465246  PMID: 22964015
ATO; Ascorbic acid; Myelodysplastic syndromes; MDS; Apoptosis
2.  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

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