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1.  Five-Year Retrospective Italian Multicenter Study of Visceral Leishmaniasis Treatment 
The treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is poorly standardized in Italy in spite of the existing evidence. All consecutive patients with VL admitted at 15 Italian centers as inpatients or outpatients between January 2004 and December 2008 were retrospectively considered; outcome data at 1 year after treatment were obtained for all but 1 patient. Demographic characteristics, underlying diseases, diagnostic procedures, treatment regimens and outcomes, as well as side effects were recorded. A confirmed diagnosis of VL was reported for 166 patients: 120 (72.3%) immunocompetent, 21 (12.6%) patients with immune deficiencies other than HIV infection, and 25 (15.1%) coinfected with HIV. Liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) was the drug almost universally used for treatment, administered to 153 (92.2%) patients. Thirty-seven different regimens, including L-AmB were used. The mean doses were 29.4 ± 7.9 mg/kg in immunocompetent patients, 32.9 ± 8.6 mg/kg in patients with non-HIV-related immunodeficiencies, and 40.8 ± 6.7 mg/kg in HIV-infected patients (P < 0.001). The mean numbers of infusion days were 7.8 ± 3.1 in immunocompetent patients, 9.6 ± 3.9 in non-HIV-immunodeficient patients, and 12.0 ± 3.4 in HIV-infected patients (P < 0.001). Mild and reversible adverse events were observed in 12.2% of cases. Responsive patients were 154 (93.3%). Successes were 98.4% among immunocompetent patients, 90.5% among non-HIV-immunodeficient patients, and 72.0% among HIV-infected patients. Among predictors of primary response to treatment, HIV infection and age held independent associations in the final multivariate models, whereas the doses and duration of L-AmB treatment were not significantly associated. Longer treatments and higher doses of L-AmB were not able to significantly modify treatment outcomes either in the immunocompetent or in the immunocompromised population.
PMCID: PMC3910784  PMID: 24189252
3.  Response to raltegravir-based salvage therapy in HIV-infected patients with hepatitis C virus or hepatitis B virus coinfection 
To define the impact of coinfection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) on viroimmunological response to raltegravir-based salvage regimens that also include new HIV inhibitors such as maraviroc, darunavir and etravirine.
We used data from a national observational study of patients starting raltegravir-based regimens to compare virological suppression and CD4 cell change from baseline in patients with and without concomitant HBV or HCV infection.
Overall, 275 patients (107 coinfected and 168 non-coinfected) were evaluated. Coinfected patients were more commonly former intravenous drug users and had a longer history of HIV infection and higher baseline aminotransferase levels. Both HIV-RNA and CD4 response were similar in the two groups. Mean time to first HIV-RNA copy number <50 copies/mL was 4.1 months (95% CI 3.5–4.6) in non-coinfected patients and 3.9 months (95% CI 3.3–4.5) in coinfected patients (hazard ratio 1.039, 95% CI 0.761–1.418, P = 0.766, log-rank test). The risk of developing new grade 3–4 hepatic adverse events was significantly higher in coinfected patients (hazard ratio 1.779, 95% CI 1.123–2.817, P = 0.009). The two groups of coinfected and non-coinfected patients had similar rates of interruption of any baseline drug (hazard ratio 1.075, 95% CI 0.649–1.781, P = 0.776) and of raltegravir (hazard ratio 1.520, 95% CI 0.671–3.447, P = 0.311). Few AIDS-defining events and deaths occurred.
Viroimmunological response to regimens based on raltegravir and other recent anti-HIV inhibitors is not negatively affected by coinfection with HBV or HCV. Liver toxicity, either pre-existing or new, is more common in coinfected patients, but with no increased risk of treatment interruption.
PMCID: PMC3522446  PMID: 22984206
antiretroviral therapy; HIV-1; HBV; HCV; integrase inhibitors; viral hepatitis; viral load; CD4 response; darunavir; maraviroc; etravirine; HIV resistance; liver disease
4.  Maraviroc as Intensification Strategy in HIV-1 Positive Patients with Deficient Immunological Response: an Italian Randomized Clinical Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80157.
Immunological non-responders (INRs) lacked CD4 increase despite HIV-viremia suppression on HAART and had an increased risk of disease progression. We assessed immune reconstitution profile upon intensification with maraviroc in INRs.
We designed a multi-centric, randomized, parallel, open label, phase 4 superiority trial. We enrolled 97 patients on HAART with CD4+<200/µL and/or CD4+ recovery ≤25% and HIV-RNA<50 cp/mL. Patients were randomized 1:1 to HAART+maraviroc or continued HAART. CD4+ and CD8+ CD45+RA/RO, Ki67 expression and plasma IL-7 were quantified at W0, W12 and W48.
By W48 both groups displayed a CD4 increase without a significant inter-group difference. A statistically significant change in CD8 favored patients in arm HAART+maraviroc versus HAART at W12 (p=.009) and W48 (p=.025). The CD4>200/µL and CD4>200/µL + CD4 gain ≥25% end-points were not satisfied at W12 (p=.24 and p=.619) nor at W48 (p=.076 and p=.236). Patients continuing HAART displayed no major changes in parameters of T-cell homeostasis and activation. Maraviroc-receiving patients experienced a significant rise in circulating IL-7 by W48 (p=.01), and a trend in temporary reduction in activated HLA-DR+CD38+CD4+ by W12 (p=.06) that was not maintained at W48.
Maraviroc intensification in INRs did not have a significant advantage in reconstituting CD4 T-cell pool, but did substantially expand CD8. It resulted in a low rate of treatment discontinuations.
Trial Registration NCT00884858
PMCID: PMC3828227  PMID: 24244635
5.  Preliminary Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of Standard Intravenous Immunoglobulins in Pregnant Women with Primary Cytomegalovirus Infection 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2012;19(12):1991-1993.
Hyperimmune globulins were reported to prevent and treat fetal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy. Here, we report that infusions of standard human intravenous immunoglobulin significantly increase CMV IgG titers and avidity indexes in pregnant women, paving the way to their use for passive transfer of maternal CMV humoral immunity to fetuses. Preliminary data on perinatal outcomes of the first 67 newborns are encouraging.
PMCID: PMC3535874  PMID: 23100477
6.  Psychological Factors, Including Alexithymia, in the Prediction of Cardiovascular Risk in HIV Infected Patients: Results of a Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54555.
Psychological factors are known predictors of cardiovascular disease in many clinical settings, but data are lacking for HIV infection. We carried out a prospective cohort study to evaluate potential psychological predictors of preclinical and clinical vascular disease in HIV patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
HIV patients were consecutively enrolled. Demographics, viral and immune parameters and traditional cardiovascular predictors were considered; Intima-Media Thickness (c-IMT, continuous measure) and Carotid Plaques (CPs, focal thickening ≥1.5 mm) were investigated by B-mode ultrasonography; depressive symptoms by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), Type D personality (Distressed Personality or Type D) by the DS14, alexithymia by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Vascular outcomes included transient ischemic attacks or stroke, acute coronary syndrome, myocardial or other organ infarction. We enrolled 232 HIV subjects, 73.9% males, aged 44.5±9.9 y, 38.2% with AIDS diagnosis, 18.3% untreated. Mean Nadir CD4 T-cell counts were 237.5±186.2/mmc. Of them, 224 (96.5%) attended IMT measurements; 201 (86.6%) attended both IMT assessment and psychological profiling. Mean follow-up was 782±308 days. Fifty-nine patients (29.4%) had CPs at baseline. Nineteen patients (9.5%) had ≥1 vascular event; 12 (6.0%) died due to such events (n = 4) or any cause. At baseline cross-sectional multivariate analysis, increasing age, total cholesterol, current smoking and Alexithymia score≥50 were significantly associated with both increased cIMT (linear regression) and CPs (logistic regression). At follow-up analysis, log-rank tests and Cox’s regression revealed that only older age (p = 0.001), current smoking (p = 0.019) and alexithymia score≥50 (p = 0.013) were independently associated with vascular events.
In HIV-infected subjects, the Alexithymic trait emerges as a strong predictor of increased IMT, presence of CPs and vascular events. Such results are preliminary and require confirmation from studies with larger sample size and longer follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3551818  PMID: 23349927
7.  Post-herpetic neuralgia 
In spite of the large body of evidence available in the literature, definition and treatment of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) are still lacking a consistent and universally recognized standardization. Furthermore, many issues concerning diagnosis, prediction and prevention of PHN need to be clarified in view of recent contributions.
To assess whether PHN may be better defined, predicted, treated and prevented in light of recent data, and whether available alternative or adjunctive therapies may improve pain relief in treatment recalcitrant PHN.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies and protocols were searched; the search sources included PubMed, Cochrane Library, NICE, and DARE. More than 130 papers were selected and evaluated.
Diagnosis of PHN is essentially clinical, but it can be improved by resorting to the many tools available, including some practical and accessible questionnaires. Prediction of PHN can be now much more accurate, taking into consideration a few well validated clinical and anamnestic variables. Treatment of PHN is presently based on a well characterized array of drugs and drug associations, including, among others, tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentinoids, opioids and many topical formulations. It is still unsatisfactory, however, in a substantial proportion of patients, especially those with many comorbidities and intense pain at herpes zoster (HZ) presentation, so that this frequent complication of HZ still strongly impacts on the quality of life of affected patients.
Further efforts are needed to improve the management of PHN. Potentially relevant interventions may include early antiviral therapy of acute HZ, prevention of HZ by adult vaccination, as well as new therapeutic approaches for patients experiencing PHN.
PMCID: PMC3479946  PMID: 23109810
pain relief; PHN treatment; PHN predictors; PHN prevention
8.  Successful salvage therapy with Daptomycin for osteomyelitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a renal transplant recipient with Fabry-Anderson disease 
Daptomycin is licensed in adults for the management of Staphylococcus aureus methicillin-resistant infections, including bone and skin complicated infections. We describe for the first time its use in a renal transplant recipient for Fabry-Anderson Disease with right heel osteomyelitis. The patient was unresponsive to first-line Teicoplanin and second-line Tigecycline, whereas he was successfully treated with third-line Daptomycin monotherapy at 4 mg/Kg/qd for 4 weeks. Local debridement was performed in advance of each line of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3324387  PMID: 22404900
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Osteomyelitis; Daptomycin; Salvage therapy; Antibiotic therapy
9.  Acupuncture for the treatment of severe acute pain in Herpes Zoster: results of a nested, open-label, randomized trial in the VZV Pain Study 
Data on the potential efficacy of acupuncture (AC) in controlling intense or very intense pain in patients with Herpes Zoster (HZ) has not been so far adequately assessed in comparison with standard pharmacological treatment (ST) by a controlled trial design.
Within the VZV Pescara study, pain was assessed in HZ patients on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and by the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) both at the beginning and at the end of treatment. Response rates, mean changes in pain intensity, differences in total pain burden with an area-under-the-curve (AUC) method over a 1-year follow-up and differences in the incidence of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) were evaluated.
One hundred and two patients were randomized to receive either AC (n = 52) or ST (n = 50) for 4 weeks. Groups were comparable regarding age, sex, pain intensity at presentation and missed antiviral prescription. Both interventions were largely effective. No significant differences were observed in response rates (81.6% vs 89.2%, p = 0.8), mean reduction of VAS (4.1 +/- 2.3 vs 4.9 +/- 1.9, p = 0.12) and MPQ scores (1.3 +/- 0.9 vs 1.3 +/- 0.9, p = 0.9), incidence of PHN after 3 months (48.4% vs 46.8%, p = 0.5), and mean AUC during follow-up (199 +/- 136 vs 173 +/- 141, p = 0.4). No serious treatment-related adverse event was observed in both groups.
This controlled and randomized trial provides the first evidence of a potential role of AC for the treatment of acute herpetic pain.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3125389  PMID: 21639941
10.  Tinea incognito Caused by Microsporum gypseum in a Patient with Advanced HIV Infection: A Case Report 
Case Reports in Dermatology  2011;3(1):55-59.
The prevalence and the clinical relevance of dermatophytoses in HIV-infected patients are poorly documented, particularly for those caused by tinea incognito. Here, we report a case of widespread facial tinea incognito occurring in an Italian patient with advanced HIV infection, showing both skin and brain lesions. Second-line treatment with liposomal amphotericin B and cotrimoxazole, administered after a microbiological characterization of the skin scrapings, led to complete clearance of all lesions.
PMCID: PMC3073754  PMID: 21487462
HIV infection; Tinea incognito; Microsporum gypseum
11.  Predictors of pain intensity and persistence in a prospective Italian cohort of patients with herpes zoster: relevance of smoking, trauma and antiviral therapy 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:58.
Herpes zoster (HZ) is a common disease, characterized by rash-associated localized pain. Its main complication, post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), is difficult to treat and may last for months to years in the wake of rash resolution. Uncertainties remain as to the knowledge of predictors of HZ-related pain, including the role of antiviral therapy in preventing PHN in ordinary clinical practice. This prospective cohort study was aimed at investigating pain intensity at HZ presentation and its correlates, as well as the incidence of PHN and its predictors.
Patients diagnosed with HZ were consecutively enrolled by a network of Italian General Practitioners and Hospital Units in the health district of Pescara, Italy, over two years. Uncertain cases were referred for microbiological investigation. Data were collected through electronic case report form (e-CRFs) at enrolment and at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after enrolment. Pain intensity was coded on a five-degree semi-quantitative scale at each time point. PHN was defined as pain of any intensity during follow-up and quantified using an area-under-the-curve (AUC) method.
Four hundred and forty-one patients composed the final sample. Mean age was 58.1 years (SD = 20.4 years); 43.5% of patients were males; 7.9% did not receive prescription of antivirals. Intense/very intense pain at presentation was reported by 25.2% of patients and was significantly associated with female gender, older age, cigarette smoking, trauma and/or surgery at HZ site (logistic regression). PHN was diagnosed in 51.2% of patients at one month and in 30.0% of patients at three months. PHN was significantly associated with pain intensity at presentation, age, smoking, trauma and missed antiviral prescription (generalized estimating equations model). The same factors were also independent predictors of the overall pain burden as described by the AUC method (linear regression).
Smoking, traumas and surgery at the HZ site emerged as new predictors of both HZ-related pain intensity and persistence, opening new perspectives in the prevention of HZ-related pain. An independent line of evidence was provided for the efficacy of antiviral therapy in preventing PHN and reducing total pain burden.
PMCID: PMC2964549  PMID: 20937086
12.  Rapid and persistent selection of the K103N mutation as a majority quasispecies in a HIV1-patient exposed to efavirenz for three weeks: a case report and review of the literature 
Selection of the K103N mutation is associated with moderately reduced in vitro fitness of HIV. Strains bearing K103N in vivo tend to persist, even in the absence of additional drug pressure, as minority quasispecies, often undetectable in genotyping resistance testing assays, performed at standard conditions. Here, we report on the rapid and long lasting selection of a K103N bearing strain as the dominant quasispecies after very short exposure to efavirenz in vivo.
Case presentation
A 55-year-old Caucasian man was switched to efavirenz, zidovudine and lamivudine in February 2003, while on viral suppression in his first-line highly active anti-retroviral treatment regimen. One month later, he reported inconsistent adherence and his viremia level was 5700 c/mL. He did not attend further checkups until September 2005, when his viral load was 181,000 c/mL. The patient reported interrupting his medications approximately three weeks after simplification. The genotyping resistance testing assay was performed both on HIV RNA and HIV DNA from plasma, yielding an identical pattern with the isolate presence of the K103N mutation in the prevalent strain.
Persistence of the K103N mutation as a majority quasispecies may ensue after a very short exposure to efavirenz. Our case would therefore suggest that the presence of the K103N mutation should always be ruled out by genotyping resistance testing assays, even after minimal exposures to efavirenz.
PMCID: PMC2827172  PMID: 21092074
13.  Femoral Prosthesis Infection by Rhodotorula mucilaginosa▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(10):3544-3545.
This case report is a case history of a femoral prosthesis infection caused by Rhodotorula mucilaginosa in a human immunodeficiency virus patient. Though the pathogenicity of this organism for bone tissue has been previously reported, this is the first reported case of an orthopedic prosthesis infection by this species of the genus Rhodotorula.
PMCID: PMC2566075  PMID: 18753353
14.  Persistence of lipoatrophy after a four-year long interruption of antiretroviral therapy for HIV1 infection: case report 
HIV-infected patients on long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy often present peculiar patterns of fat redistribution, referred to as lipodystrophy. In spite of recent investigations, it is not known whether and to what extent the main features of lipodystrophy – that is lipoatrophy of peripheral fat at face, limbs and buttocks, as well as fat accumulation at breasts, abdomen and the dorso-cervical region – can be reversible once clinically manifest.
Case presentation
A 35 year old Caucasian HIV infected female developed severe diffuse lipodystrophy while on highly active antiretroviral therapy. A remarkable increase of breast size, fat accumulation at waist, and a fat pad on her lumbar spine were paralleled by progressive and disfiguring lipoatrophy of face, limbs and buttocks. The patient decided to interrupt her therapy after 20 months, with a stably suppressed viremia and a CD4 lymphocyte count >500/μL. She could carry on a safe treatment interruption for longer than 4 years. Most sites of fat accumulation switched to nearly normal appearance, whereas lipoatrophy was substantially unchanged at all affected sites.
our observation provides pictorial evidence that lipoatrophy may not be reversible even under ideal circumstances. Therefore, strategies to prevent lipoatrophy should be considered when defining therapeutic regimens for HIV infected patients, especially those at high risk.
PMCID: PMC1261268  PMID: 16202141

Results 1-14 (14)