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1.  Asymmetric dimethylarginine predicts survival in the elderly 
Age  2013;35(6):2465-2475.
Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) is an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase implicated in several age-related biological mechanisms such as telomere shortening and cell senescence. We tested the hypothesis that ADMA blood level is an independent predictor of mortality in elderly. This is a longitudinal population-based cohort study. Participants are a representative cohort of 1,025 men and women (age range 65–102 years) living in Chianti area, Tuscany, Italy. The plasma ADMA was measured by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. During the follow-up (95 ± 32 months), 384 individuals died, of whom 141 (37 %) died of cardiovascular (CV) causes. In adjusted analyses, the plasma ADMA was the strongest predictor of all-cause mortality (HR (0.1 μMol/L) 1.26, 95 % CI 1.10–1.44, P < 0.001) with a non-significant trend for CV mortality (HR 1.22, P = 0.07). The predictive effect of the ADMA level on mortality was statistically significant among participants with low to low-normal l-arginine levels (≤60 μMol/L), but not in those with l-arginine >60 μMol/L. Notwithstanding the association of ADMA with all-cause mortality was robust, this biomarker failed to add predictive power to a simple model based on the risk factors in the elderly (area under the ROC curve 0.85 ± 0.01 vs. 0.84 ± 0.01). ADMA is a strong independent predictor of mortality in the older population, and l-arginine modifies the effect of ADMA on survival. The mechanisms for this association should be targeted by future studies.
PMCID: PMC3824988  PMID: 23584888
ADMA; Elderly; Cardiovascular risk factor; Survival; Population study
3.  Joint effect of insulin signalling genes on cardiovascular events and on whole body and endothelial insulin resistance 
Atherosclerosis  2012;226(1):140-145.
Insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) share a common soil. We investigated the combined role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affecting insulin signaling (ENPP1 K121Q, rs1044498; IRS1 G972R, rs1801278; TRIB3 Q84R, rs2295490) on CVD, age at myocardial infarction (MI), in vivo insulin sensitivity and in vitro insulin-stimulated nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity.
Design and Setting
1. We first studied, incident cardiovascular events (a composite endpoint comprising myocardial infarction -MI-, stroke and cardiovascular death) in 733 patients (2,186 person-years, 175 events). 2. In a replication attempt, age at MI was tested in 331 individuals. 3. OGTT-derived insulin sensitivity index (ISI) was assessed in 829 individuals with fasting glucose < 126 mg/dl. 4. NOS activity was measured in 40 strains of human vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
1. Risk variants jointly predicted cardiovascular events (HR=1.181; p=0.0009) and, when added to clinical risk factors, significantly improved survival C-statistics; they also allowed a significantly correct reclassification (by net reclassification index) in the whole sample (135/733 individuals) and, even more, in obese patients (116/204 individuals). 2. Risk variants were jointly associated with age at MI (p=0.006). 3. A significant association was also observed with ISI (p=0.02). 4. Finally, risk variants were jointly associated with insulin-stimulated NOS activity in HUVECs (p=0.009).
Insulin signaling genes variants jointly affect cardiovascular disease, very likely by promoting whole body and endothelium-specific insulin resistance. Further studies are needed to address whether their genotyping help identify very high-risk patients who need specific and/or more aggressive preventive strategies.
PMCID: PMC3529747  PMID: 23107043
genetic susceptibility; non synonymous polymorphism; insulin sensitivity; insulin dependent endothelial function
4.  Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate, All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Diseases Incidence in a Low Risk Population: The MATISS Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78475.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) independently increases the risk of death and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population. However, the relationship between estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and CVD/death risk in a general population at low risk of CVD has not been explored so far.
Baseline and longitudinal data of 1465 men and 1459 women aged 35-74 years participating to the MATISS study, an Italian general population cohort, were used to evaluate the role of eGFR in the prediction of all-cause mortality and incident CVD.
Bio-bank stored sera were used to evaluate eGFR at baseline. Serum creatinine was measured on thawed samples by means of an IDMS-calibrated enzymatic method. eGFR was calculated by the CKD-EPI formula.
At baseline, less than 2% of enrolled persons had eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73m2 and more than 70% had a 10-year cardiovascular risk score < 10%. In people 60 or more years old, the first and the last eGFR quintiles (<90 and ≥109 mL/min/1.73m2, respectively) were associated to an increased risk for both all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.6, 95% confidence interval 1.2-2.1 and 4.3, 1.6-11.7, respectively) and incident CVD (1.6, 1.0-2.4 and 7.0, 2.2-22.9, respectively), even if adjusted for classical risk factors.
These findings strongly suggest that in an elderly, general population at low risk of CVD and low prevalence of reduced renal filtration, even a modest eGFR reduction is related to all-cause mortality and CVD incidence, underlying the potential benefit to this population of considering eGFR for their risk prediction.
PMCID: PMC3797762  PMID: 24147135
5.  Homoarginine and Mortality in Pre-Dialysis Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72694.
Background and Aims
Homoarginine, a precursor of nitric oxide, is an inverse predictor of death in dialysis patients and in subjects with cardiovascular disease and normal kidney function but its relationship with clinical outcomes in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients not yet on dialysis is unknown.
Design, setting, participants and measurements
We enrolled 168 consecutive predialysis CKD patients (Age: 70±11 yrs; 26% Diabetics; eGFR 34±18 ml/min/1.73 m2) referred to a tertiary care centre and measured laboratory data on kidney function and cardiovascular risk factors. We modeled progression to dialysis or death as a function of homoarginine, using Cox’s regression, accounting for clinical characteristics, baseline levels of kidney function, and markers of inflammation.
On crude and adjusted analyses homoarginine was directly associated with the eGFR and patients with more compromised renal function exhibited lower homoarginine levels. Furthermore homoarginine was also independently related to L-arginine, serum albumin and body mass index, and inversely related to proteinuria, C-reactive protein and age. During the study (follow up median time 4 years, inter-quartile range 1.7 to 7.0 years) 56 patients started dialysis and 103 died and homoarginine was a strong inverse predictor of the incidence rate of both outcomes (P = 0.002 and P = 0.017).
Homoarginine declines with advancing renal disease and is inversely related to progression to dialysis and mortality. The nature of the link between homoarginine and clinical outcomes is amenable to testing in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3762798  PMID: 24023762
6.  Early measurement of CD34+ cells in peripheral blood after cyclophosphamide and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor treatment predicts later CD34+ mobilisation failure and is a possible criterion for guiding “on demand” use of plerixafor 
Blood Transfusion  2013;11(1):94-101.
Early identification of predictive factors of failure to mobilise CD34+ cells could enable rational use of plerixafor during first mobilisation, avoiding the need for a second mobilisation course. However, “on demand” administration of plerixafor needs to be driven by established parameters to avoid inappropriate use.
Materials and methods
To address this issue, we studied the value of the peripheral blood CD34+ count, measured early (on days +10, +11, +12 and +13), in predicting the mobilisation outcome in the ensuing days. We retrospectively collected data from three Italian centres on 233 patients affected by multiple myeloma or lymphoma who underwent a first or second attempt at mobilisation with cyclophosphamide 4 g/m2 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. To assess the diagnostic value of peripheral blood white blood cell and CD34+ cell counts with respect to “mobilisation failure”, we considered failed mobilisation as “disease” and the CD34+ cell count in peripheral blood, on a specific day, as a “diagnostic test”. For various thresholds, we measured sensitivity, false positive rate, specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) as well as the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUC).
A CD34+ cell count <10×106/L on day 13 had high sensitivity (1.00) and high specificity (1.00) for predicting subsequent mobilisation failure, with an AUC of 1.0. However, good prediction was also obtained using a lower threshold (CD34+ cell count: <6×106/L) at an earlier time (day 12). The PPV of the day 13 threshold was 1.00 while that of the day 12 one was 0.87.
We propose that patients with <6×106/L CD34+ cells in peripheral blood on day 12 and <10×106/L on day 13 following mobilisation with cyclophosphamide 4 g/m2 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor are candidates for “on demand” use of plerixafor, making the administration of this expensive agent more efficient and avoiding its inappropriate use.
PMCID: PMC3557479  PMID: 23114516
CD34+ cells; cyclophosphamide; PBSC mobilisation
7.  Cultural adaptation and validation of the “Kidney Disease and Quality of Life - Short Form (KDQOL-SF™) version 1.3” questionnaire in Egypt 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:170.
Health Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) instruments need disease and country specific validation. In Arab countries, there is no specific validated questionnaire for assessment of HRQOL in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. The aim of this study was to present an Arabic translation, adaptation, and the subsequent validation of the kidney disease quality of life-short form (KDQOL-SFTM) version 1.3 questionnaire in a representative series of Egyptian CKD patients.
KDQOL-SFTM version 1.3 was translated into Arabic by two independent translators, and then subsequently translated back into English. After translation disparities were reconciled, the final Arabic questionnaire was tested by interviewing 100 pre-dialysis CKD (stage 1-4) patients randomly selected from outpatients attending the Nephrology clinic at the Main Alexandria University Hospital. Test re-test reliability was performed, with a subsample of 50 consecutive CKD patients, by two interviews 7 days apart and internal consistency estimated by Cronbach’s α. Discriminant, concept, and construct validity were assessed.
All items of SF-36 met the criterion for internal consistency and were reproducible. Of the 10 kidney disease targeted scales, only three had Cronbach’s α <0.7: quality of social interaction (0.23), work status (0.28), and cognitive function (0.60). All disease specific scales were reproducible. Results from discriminant validity showed that the study questionnaire could discriminate between patients’ subgroups. As for concept validity, the correlation between all domains of the questionnaire with overall health ratewas significant for all domains except for the work status, sexual function, emotional wellbeing, and role emotional. Furthermore, the correlation between the disease specific domains and the two composite summaries of SF-36 (physical and mental composite summaries) was significant for all domains except for sexual function with mental composite summary. Construct validity was indicated by the observation that the majority of the domains of the kidney disease targeted scale of KDQOL-SFTM 1.3 were significantly inter-correlated. Finally, principal component analysis of the kidney disease targeted scale indicated that this part of the questionnaire could be summarized into 10 factors that together explained 70.9% of the variance.
The results suggest that this Arabic version of the KDQOL-SFTM 1.3 questionnaire is a valid and reliable tool for use in Egyptian patients with CKD.
PMCID: PMC3583144  PMID: 23237591
Chronic kidney disease; Egypt; Health-related quality of life; KDQOL-SFTM 1.3; Questionnaire validation
8.  Pro-inflammatory cytokines and bone fractures in CKD patients. An exploratory single centre study 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:134.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines play a key role in bone remodeling. Inflammation is highly prevalent in CKD-5D patients, but the relationship between pro-inflammatory cytokines and fractures in CKD-5D patients is unclear. We studied the relationship between inflammatory cytokines and incident bone fractures in a cohort of CKD-5D patients.
In 100 CKD-5D patients (66 on HD, 34 on CAPD; males:63, females:37; mean age: 61 ± 15; median dialysis vintage: 43 months) belonging to a single renal Unit, we measured at enrolment bone metabolic parameters (intact PTH, bone and total alkaline phosphatase, calcium, phosphate) and inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, CRP). Patients were followed-up until the first non traumatic fracture.
During follow-up (median: 74 months; range 0.5 -84.0) 18 patients experienced fractures. On categorical analysis these patients compared to those without fractures had significantly higher intact PTH (median: 319 pg/ml IQ range: 95–741 vs 135 pg/ml IQ: 53–346; p = 0.04) and TNF-α levels (median: 12 pg/ml IQ: 6.4-13.4 vs 7.8 pg/ml IQ: 4.6-11; p = 0.02). Both TNF-α (HR for 5 pg/ml increase in TNF-α: 1.62 95% CI: 1.05-2.50; p = 0.03) and intact PTH (HR for 100 pg/ml increase in PTH: 1.15 95% CI: 1.04-1.27; p = 0.005) predicted bone fractures on univariate Cox’s regression analysis. In restricted (bivariate) models adjusting for previous fractures, age, sex and other risk factors both PTH and TNF-α maintained an independent association with incident fractures.
In our bivariate analyses TNF-α was significantly associated with incident fractures. Analyses in larger cohorts and with adequate number of events are needed to firmly establish the TNF α -fracture link emerged in the present study.
PMCID: PMC3472278  PMID: 23043229
Bone fractures; CKD; Dialysis; Hyperparathyroidism; TNF-alpha; Inflammation
9.  The ENPP1 Q121 Variant Predicts Major Cardiovascular Events in High-Risk Individuals 
Diabetes  2011;60(3):1000-1007.
Insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease may share a common genetic background. We investigated the role of IR-associated ENPP1 K121Q polymorphism (rs1044498) on cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals.
A prospective study (average follow-up, 37 months) was conducted for major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction [MI], stroke, cardiovascular death) from the Gargano Heart Study (GHS; n = 330 with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease), the Tor Vergata Atherosclerosis Study (TVAS; n = 141 who had MI), and the Cardiovascular Risk Extended Evaluation in Dialysis (CREED) database (n = 266 with end-stage renal disease). Age at MI was investigated in cross-sectional studies of 339 type 2 diabetic patients (n = 169 from Italy, n = 170 from the U.S.).
Incidence of cardiovascular events per 100 person--years was 4.2 in GHS, 10.8 in TVAS, and 11.7 in CREED. Hazard ratios (HRs) for KQ+QQ versus individuals carrying the K121/K121 genotype (KK) individuals were 1.47 (95% CI 0.80–2.70) in GHS, 2.31 (95% CI 1.22–4.34) in TVAS, and 1.36 (95% CI 0.88–2.10) in CREED, and 1.56 (95% CI 1.15–2.12) in the three cohorts combined. In the 395 diabetic patients, the Q121 variant predicted cardiovascular events among obese but not among nonobese individuals (HR 5.94 vs. 0.62, P = 0.003 for interaction). A similar synergism was observed in cross-sectional studies, with age at MI being 3 years younger in Q121 carriers than in KK homozygotes among obese but not among nonobese patients (P = 0.035 for interaction).
The ENPP1 K121Q polymorphism is an independent predictor of major cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals. In type 2 diabetes, this effect is exacerbated by obesity. Future larger studies are needed to confirm our finding.
PMCID: PMC3046818  PMID: 21282363

Results 1-9 (9)