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2.  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
3.  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
4.  Longitudinal association of body mass index and waist circumference with left ventricular mass in hypertensive predialysis chronic kidney disease patients 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2013;28(Suppl 4):iv136-iv145.
This study aimed to investigate the association of both body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) with left ventricular mass (LVM) in hypertensive predialysis chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.
From 2004 to 2005, 206 consecutive incident adult patients from the outpatient CKD clinics of two hospitals in Greece were included. Inclusion criteria were the presence of CKD and hypertension. BMI (kg/m2), WC (cm) and LVM (g) were assessed annually for 3 years.
The mean age was 68.1 years, mean BMI 29.1 kg/m2 and mean WC was 103.7 cm. The median LVM was 245.7 g (n = 179). In the cross-sectional data, linear regression models showed that WC {β = 1.2 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.15; 2.3]}, and not BMI [β = 2.1 (95% CI: −0.70; 4.8)], was significantly associated with LVM. After adjustment for age, sex, primary renal disease, smoking and history of cardiovascular disease, both BMI [β = 4.7 (95% CI: 2.0; 7.4] and WC [β = 1.2 (95% CI: 0.14; 2.3)] were significantly associated with LVM. These associations were pronounced in CKD stage 1–3, but not in CKD stage 4–5. In the longitudinal analysis, linear mixed models adjusting for confounders showed that both an increase in BMI [β = 2.9 (95% CI: 0.74; 5.1)] and an increase in WC [β = 1.1 (95% CI: 0.28; 1.8)] were significantly associated with an increase in LVM.
In hypertensive predialysis CKD patients, both BMI and WC were associated with LVM in CKD stage 1–3, but not in CKD stage 4–5. In the longitudinal analysis, both an increase in BMI and WC were associated with an increase in LVM. Future studies should focus on mechanisms responsible for the associations between anthropometric variables and LVM.
PMCID: PMC3814229  PMID: 24049104
body mass index; chronic kidney disease; hypertension; left ventricular mass; waist circumference
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.  Pulmonary Congestion and Physical Functioning in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients 
♦ Purpose: Decline in physical function is commonly observed in patients with kidney failure on dialysis. Whether lung congestion, a predictable consequence of cardiomyopathy and fluid overload, may contribute to the low physical functioning of these patients has not been investigated.
♦ Methods: In 51 peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients, we investigated the cross-sectional association between the physical functioning scale of the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form (KDQOL-SF: Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA) and an ultrasonographic measure of lung water recently validated in dialysis patients. The relationship between physical functioning and lung water was also analyzed taking into account the severity of dyspnea measured using the New York Heart Association (NYHA) classification currently used to grade the severity of heart failure.
♦ Results: Evidence of moderate-to-severe lung congestion was evident in 20 patients, and this alteration was asymptomatic (that is, NHYHA class I) in 11 patients (55%). On univariate analysis, physical functioning was inversely associated with lung water (r = -0.48, p < 0.001), age (r = -0.44, p = 0.001), previous cardiovascular events (r = -0.46, p = 0.001), and fibrinogen (r = -0.34, p = 0.02). Physical functioning was directly associated with blood pressure, the strongest association being with diastolic blood pressure (r = 0.38, p = 0.006). The NYHA class correlated inversely with physical functioning (r = -0.51, p < 0.001). In multiple regression analysis, only lung water and fibrinogen remained independent correlates of physical functioning. The NYHA class failed to maintain its independent association.
♦ Conclusions: This cross-sectional study supports the hypothesis that symptomatic and asymptomatic lung congestion is a relevant factor in the poor physical functioning of patients on PD.
PMCID: PMC3524861  PMID: 22942271
KDQOL-SF; physical functioning; lung comets; NYHA class
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.  Predictors of haemoglobin levels and resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in patients treated with low-flux haemodialysis, haemofiltration and haemodiafiltration: results of a multicentre randomized and controlled trial 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2012;27(9):3594-3600.
Predictors of haemoglobin (Hb) levels and resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in dialysis patients have not yet been clearly defined. Some mainly uncontrolled studies suggest that online haemodiafiltration (HDF) may have a beneficial effect on Hb, whereas no data are available concerning online haemofiltration (HF). The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of convective treatments (CTs) on Hb levels and ESA resistance in comparison with low-flux haemodialysis (HD) and to evaluate the predictors of these outcomes.
Primary multivariate analysis was made of a pre-specified secondary outcome of a multicentre, open-label, randomized controlled study in which 146 chronic HD patients from 27 Italian centres were randomly assigned to HD (70 patients) or CTs: online pre-dilution HF (36 patients) or online pre-dilution HDF (40 patients).
CTs did not affect Hb levels (P = 0.596) or ESA resistance (P = 0.984). Hb correlated with polycystic kidney disease (P = 0.001), C-reactive protein (P = 0.025), ferritin (P = 0.018), ESA dose (P < 0.001) and total cholesterol (P = 0.021). The participating centres were the main source of Hb variability (partial eta2 0.313, P < 0.001). ESA resistance directly correlated with serum ferritin (P = 0.030) and beta2 microglobulin (P = 0.065); participating centres were again a major source of variance (partial eta2 0.367, P < 0.001). Transferrin saturation did not predict either outcome variables (P = 0.277 and P = 0.170).
In comparison with low-flux HD, CTs did not significantly improve Hb levels or ESA resistance. The main sources of variability were participating centres, ESA dose and the underlying disease.
PMCID: PMC3433772  PMID: 22622452
ESA resistance; haemoglobin; haemodialysis; online haemofiltration; online haemodiafiltration
10.  Arthroscopic guided biopsy and radiofrequency thermoablation of a benign neoplasm of the tibial spines area: a treatment option 
Lesions located in the area of the tibial spines are rare. In most cases, treatment follows histological diagnosis, but when imaging and clinical data are considered to be "very" characteristic for benign lesions, such as chondroblastoma or osteoid osteoma, treatment may be performed without biopsy. Traditional curettage requires opening the joint, which presents a high risk of contamination of the joint itself and surrounding structures, such as the popliteal area, with possible contamination of the neurovascular bundle when performing curettage with the posterior approach. In this case, the re-excision of a local recurrence would be extremely difficult.
We describe a technique using arthroscopic guidance for radiofrequency thermoablation of a benign lesion in the tibial spines area. We report on an illustrative case. The patient so treated, reported immediate relief from the pain, and after two weeks, was free of pain. The biopsy performed before the treatment confirmed the radiological diagnosis of chondroblastoma. At one year of follow-up, the patient is without pain, with a 0-130°range of motion, has no activity limitations and is apparently free of disease.
This technique allows a radiofrequency thermoablation of a lesion in the tibial spines area and in the posterior tibial surface to be performed without opening the joint, monitoring the tibial plateau surface, probably decreasing the risk of cartilage damage. Unfortunately, in the case presented, the high pressure from the arthroscopy's pump broke the tibial plateau surface creating a communication to the tibial tunnel used for thermoablation.
PMCID: PMC3349528  PMID: 22475175
Radiofrequency thermoablation; Tibial spines; Osteoid osteoma; Chondroblastoma; Arthroscopic guided biopsy; I declare that we have no commercial interest in the subject under study and that we have not received any financial or material support
11.  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
12.  A Blueberry-Enriched Diet Attenuates Nephropathy in a Rat Model of Hypertension via Reduction in Oxidative Stress 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24028.
Objective and Background
To assess renoprotective effects of a blueberry-enriched diet in a rat model of hypertension. Oxidative stress (OS) appears to be involved in the development of hypertension and related renal injury. Pharmacological antioxidants can attenuate hypertension and hypertension-induced renal injury; however, attention has shifted recently to the therapeutic potential of natural products as antioxidants. Blueberries (BB) have among the highest antioxidant capacities of fruits and vegetables.
Methods and Results
Male spontaneously hypertensive rats received a BB-enriched diet (2% w/w) or an isocaloric control diet for 6 or 12 weeks or 2 days. Compared to controls, rats fed BB-enriched diet for 6 or 12 weeks exhibited lower blood pressure, improved glomerular filtration rate, and decreased renovascular resistance. As measured by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, significant decreases in total reactive oxygen species (ROS), peroxynitrite, and superoxide production rates were observed in kidney tissues in rats on long-term dietary treatment, consistent with reduced pathology and improved function. Additionally, measures of antioxidant status improved; specifically, renal glutathione and catalase activities increased markedly. Contrasted to these observations indicating reduced OS in the BB group after long-term feeding, similar measurements made in rats fed the same diet for only 2 days yielded evidence of increased OS; specifically, significant increases in total ROS, peroxynitrite, and superoxide production rates in all tissues (kidney, brain, and liver) assayed in BB-fed rats. These results were evidence of “hormesis” during brief exposure, which dissipated with time as indicated by enhanced levels of catalase in heart and liver of BB group.
Long-term feeding of BB-enriched diet lowered blood pressure, preserved renal hemodynamics, and improved redox status in kidneys of hypertensive rats and concomitantly demonstrated the potential to delay or attenuate development of hypertension-induced renal injury, and these effects appear to be mediated by a short-term hormetic response.
PMCID: PMC3174132  PMID: 21949690
13.  Multicenter Phase 2 Trial of Sirolimus for Tuberous Sclerosis: Kidney Angiomyolipomas and Other Tumors Regress and VEGF- D Levels Decrease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e23379.
Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) related tumors are characterized by constitutively activated mTOR signaling due to mutations in TSC1 or TSC2.
We completed a phase 2 multicenter trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus, for the treatment of kidney angiomyolipomas.
36 adults with TSC or TSC/LAM were enrolled and started on daily sirolimus. The overall response rate was 44.4% (95% confidence intervals [CI] 28 to 61); 16/36 had a partial response. The remainder had stable disease (47.2%, 17/36), or were unevaluable (8.3%, 3/36). The mean decrease in kidney tumor size (sum of the longest diameters [sum LD]) was 29.9% (95% CI, 22 to 37; n = 28 at week 52). Drug related grade 1–2 toxicities that occurred with a frequency of >20% included: stomatitis, hypertriglyceridemia, hypercholesterolemia, bone marrow suppression (anemia, mild neutropenia, leucopenia), proteinuria, and joint pain. There were three drug related grade 3 events: lymphopenia, headache, weight gain. Kidney angiomyolipomas regrew when sirolimus was discontinued but responses tended to persist if treatment was continued after week 52. We observed regression of brain tumors (SEGAs) in 7/11 cases (26% mean decrease in diameter), regression of liver angiomyolipomas in 4/5 cases (32.1% mean decrease in longest diameter), subjective improvement in facial angiofibromas in 57%, and stable lung function in women with TSC/LAM (n = 15). A correlative biomarker study showed that serum VEGF-D levels are elevated at baseline, decrease with sirolimus treatment, and correlate with kidney angiomyolipoma size (Spearman correlation coefficient 0.54, p = 0.001, at baseline).
Sirolimus treatment for 52 weeks induced regression of kidney angiomyolipomas, SEGAs, and liver angiomyolipomas. Serum VEGF-D may be a useful biomarker for monitoring kidney angiomyolipoma size. Future studies are needed to determine benefits and risks of longer duration treatment in adults and children with TSC.
Trial Registration NCT00126672
PMCID: PMC3167813  PMID: 21915260
14.  Adverse Effects of Simulated Hyper- and Hypo-Phosphatemia on Endothelial Cell Function and Viability 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23268.
Dysregulaiton of phosphate homeostasis as occurs in chronic kidney disease is associated with cardiovascular complications. It has been suggested that both hyperphosphatemia and hypophosphatemia can cause cardiovascular disease. The molecular mechanisms by which high or low serum phosphate levels adversely affect cardiovascular function are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to explore the mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction in the presence of non-physiologic phosphate levels.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We studied the effects of simulated hyper- and hypophosphatemia in human umbilical vein endothelial cells in vitro. We found both simulated hyperphosphatemia and hypophosphatemia decrease eNOS expression and NO production. This was associated with reduced intracellular calcium, increased protein kinase C β2 (PKCβ2), reduced cell viability, and increased apoptosis. While simulated hyperphosphatemia was associated with decreased Akt/p-Akt, Bcl-xl/Bax ratios, NFkB-p65 and p-Erk abundance, simulated hypophosphatemia was associated with increased Akt/p-Akt and Bcl-xl/Bax ratios and p-Mek, p38, and p-p38 abundance.
This is the first demonstration of endothelial dysfunction with hypophosphatemia. Our data suggests that both hyperphosphatemia and hypophosphatemia decrease eNOS activity via reduced intracellular calcium and increased PKCβ2. Hyperphosphatemia also appears to reduce eNOS transcription via reduced signaling through PI3K/Akt/NF-kB and MAPK/NF-kB pathways. On the other hand, hypophosphatemia appears to activate these pathways. Our data provides the basis for further studies to elucidate the relationship between altered phosphate homeostasis and cardiovascular disease. As a corollary, our data suggests that the level of phosphate in the culture media, if not in the physiologic range, may inadvertently affect experimental results.
PMCID: PMC3153490  PMID: 21858050
15.  AC-NP: A Novel Chimeric Peptide with Natriuretic and Vasorelaxing Actions 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20477.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the cardiovascular and renal activities of a newly designed natriuretic peptide (NP). Here, we engineered a novel 28-amino acid chimeric peptide, termed AC-NP that combined the 17-amino acid ring of C type natriuretic peptide (CNP) with the 6-amino acid N-terminus and 5-amino acid C-terminus of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP). Both in vitro and in vivo experiments were performed to determine the actions of AC-NP. In normal rats, AC-NP proved to be more potentially diuretic, natriuretic and hypotensive compared with other NPs, such as ANP, CNP and vasonatrin peptide (VNP), which is another man-made NP. In relaxation of isolated abdominal aorta from rat, AC-NP was equally effective to ANP, CNP and VNP. Elevated levels of 3′,5′-guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in plasma and urine cGMP excretion indicated the participation of cGMP in the functions of AC-NP. Taken together, innovative designed AD-NP might be a new candidate therapeutic peptide against cardiorenal disorders.
PMCID: PMC3101257  PMID: 21647224
16.  ACE I/D Gene Polymorphism Can't Predict the Steroid Responsiveness in Asian Children with Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19599.
The results from the published studies on the association between angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) insertion/deletion (I/D) gene polymorphism and the treatment response to steroid in Asian children with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) is still conflicting. This meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the relation between ACE I/D gene polymorphism and treatment response to steroid in Asian children and to explore whether ACE D allele or DD genotype could become a predictive marker for steroid responsiveness.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Association studies were identified from the databases of PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library and CBM-disc (China Biological Medicine Database) as of September 1, 2010, and eligible investigations were synthesized using meta-analysis method. Five investigations were identified for the analysis of association between ACE I/D gene polymorphism and steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) risk in Asian children and seven studies were included to explore the relationship between ACE I/D gene polymorphism and steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS) susceptibility. Five investigations were recruited to explore the difference of ACE I/D gene distribution between SRNS and SSNS. There was no a markedly association between D allele or DD genotype and SRNS susceptibility or SSNS risk, and the gene distribution differences of ACE between SRNS and SSNS were not statistically significant. II genotype might play a positive role against SRNS onset but not for SSNS (OR = 0.51, P = 0.02; OR = 0.95, P = 0.85; respectively), however, the result for the association of II genotype with SRNS risk was not stable.
Our results indicate that D allele or DD homozygous can't become a significant genetic molecular marker to predict the treatment response to steroid in Asian children with INS.
PMCID: PMC3097181  PMID: 21611163
17.  The Appearance and Modulation of Osteocyte Marker Expression during Calcification of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19595.
Vascular calcification is an indicator of elevated cardiovascular risk. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), the predominant cell type involved in medial vascular calcification, can undergo phenotypic transition to both osteoblastic and chondrocytic cells within a calcifying environment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the present study, using in vitro VSMC calcification studies in conjunction with ex vivo analyses of a mouse model of medial calcification, we show that vascular calcification is also associated with the expression of osteocyte phenotype markers. As controls, the terminal differentiation of murine calvarial osteoblasts into osteocytes was induced in vitro in the presence of calcifying medium (containing ß-glycerophosphate and ascorbic acid), as determined by increased expression of the osteocyte markers DMP-1, E11 and sclerostin. Culture of murine aortic VSMCs under identical conditions confirmed that the calcification of these cells can also be induced in similar calcifying medium. Calcified VSMCs had increased alkaline phosphatase activity and PiT-1 expression, which are recognized markers of vascular calcification. Expression of DMP-1, E11 and sclerostin was up-regulated during VSMC calcification in vitro. Increased protein expression of E11, an early osteocyte marker, and sclerostin, expressed by more mature osteocytes was also observed in the calcified media of Enpp1−/− mouse aortic tissue.
This study has demonstrated the up-regulation of key osteocytic molecules during the vascular calcification process. A fuller understanding of the functional role of osteocyte formation and specifically sclerostin and E11 expression in the vascular calcification process may identify novel potential therapeutic strategies for clinical intervention.
PMCID: PMC3096630  PMID: 21611184
18.  The Influence of Personality Traits on Reported Adherence to Medication in Individuals with Chronic Disease: An Epidemiological Study in West Sweden 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18241.
Limited research exists exploring the influence of personality on adherence behaviour. Since non-adherence is a major obstacle in treating prevalent chronic diseases the aim was to determine whether personality traits are related to reported adherence to medication in individuals with chronic disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Individuals with chronic disease (n = 749) were identified in a random population sample of 5000 inhabitants aged 30–70 in two municipalities in West Sweden. Data on five personality traits, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to experiences, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness, and medication adherence behaviour was collected by questionnaires. Statistical analyses resulted in a negative relationship between Neuroticism and medication adherence (P<0.001), while both Agreeableness (P<0.001) and Conscientiousness (P<0.001) were positively related to adherence. At high levels of Conscientiousness, low adherence was related to higher scores in Neuroticism. At high levels of Agreeableness, low adherence was related to low scores in Conscientiousness and high scores in Openness to experiences.
This study demonstrated that multiple personality traits are of significant importance for adherence behaviour in individuals with chronic disease. The findings suggest that several personality traits may interact in influencing adherence behaviour. Personality traits could putatively be used to focus efforts to educate and support patients with high risk of low medical adherence.
PMCID: PMC3065484  PMID: 21464898
19.  Fluid Status in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients: The European Body Composition Monitoring (EuroBCM) Study Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17148.
Euvolemia is an important adequacy parameter in peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients. However, accurate tools to evaluate volume status in clinical practice and data on volume status in PD patients as compared to healthy population, and the associated factors, have not been available so far.
We used a bio-impedance spectroscopy device, the Body Composition Monitor (BCM) to assess volume status in a cross-sectional cohort of prevalent PD patients in different European countries. The results were compared to an age and gender matched healthy population.
Only 40% out of 639 patients from 28 centres in 6 countries were normovolemic. Severe fluid overload was present in 25.2%. There was a wide scatter in the relation between blood pressure and volume status. In a multivariate analysis in the subgroup of patients from countries with unrestricted availability of all PD modalities and fluid types, older age, male gender, lower serum albumin, lower BMI, diabetes, higher systolic blood pressure, and use of at least one exchange per day with the highest hypertonic glucose were associated with higher relative tissue hydration. Neither urinary output nor ultrafiltration, PD fluid type or PD modality were retained in the model (total R2 of the model = 0.57).
The EuroBCM study demonstrates some interesting issues regarding volume status in PD. As in HD patients, hypervolemia is a frequent condition in PD patients and blood pressure can be a misleading clinical tool to evaluate volume status. To monitor fluid balance, not only fluid output but also dietary input should be considered. Close monitoring of volume status, a correct dialysis prescription adapted to the needs of the patient and dietary measures seem to be warranted to avoid hypervolemia.
PMCID: PMC3044747  PMID: 21390320
20.  Inhibition of the Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Promotes Albuminuria in Mice with Progressive Renal Disease 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e11979.
Epoxyeicotrienoic acids (EETs) are cytochrome P450-dependent anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory derivatives of arachidonic acid, which are highly abundant in the kidney and considered reno-protective. EETs are degraded by the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) and sEH inhibitors are considered treatment for chronic renal failure (CRF). We determined whether sEH inhibition attenuates the progression of CRF in the 5/6-nephrectomy model (5/6-Nx) in mice. 5/6-Nx mice were treated with a placebo, an ACE-inhibitor (Ramipril, 40 mg/kg), the sEH-inhibitor cAUCB or the CYP-inhibitor fenbendazole for 8 weeks. 5/6-Nx induced hypertension, albuminuria, glomerulosclerosis and tubulo-interstitial damage and these effects were attenuated by Ramipril. In contrast, cAUCB failed to lower the blood pressure and albuminuria was more severe as compared to placebo. Plasma EET-levels were doubled in 5/6 Nx-mice as compared to sham mice receiving placebo. Renal sEH expression was attenuated in 5/6-Nx mice but cAUCB in these animals still further increased the EET-level. cAUCB also increased 5-HETE and 15-HETE, which derive from peroxidation or lipoxygenases. Similar to cAUCB, CYP450 inhibition increased HETEs and promoted albuminuria. Thus, sEH-inhibition failed to elicit protective effects in the 5/6-Nx model and showed a tendency to aggravate the disease. These effects might be consequence of a shift of arachidonic acid metabolism into the lipoxygenase pathway.
PMCID: PMC2915917  PMID: 20694143
21.  Endothelial Progenitor Cells and Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease – a Prospective Follow-Up Study 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11477.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) mediate vascular repair and regeneration. Their number in peripheral blood is related to cardiovascular events in individuals with normal renal function.
We evaluated the association between functionally active EPCs (cell culture) and traditional cardiovascular risk factors in 265 patients with chronic kidney disease stage V receiving hemodialysis therapy. Thereafter, we prospectively assessed cardiovascular events, e.g. myocardial infarction, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (including stenting), aorto-coronary bypass, stroke and angiographically verified stenosis of peripheral arteries, and cardiovascular death in this cohort.
In our patients EPCs were related only to age (r = 0.154; p = 0.01). During a median follow-up period of 36 months 109 (41%) patients experienced a cardiovascular event. In a multiple Cox regression analysis, we identified EPCs (p = 0.03) and patient age (p = 0.01) as the only independent variables associated with incident cardiovascular events. Moreover, a total of 70 patients died during follow-up, 45 of those due to cardiovascular causes. Log rank test confirmed statistical significance for EPCs concerning incident cardiovascular events (p = 0.02).
We found a significant association between the number of functionally active EPCs and cardiovascular events in patients with chronic kidney disease. Thus, defective vascular repair and regeneration may be responsible, at least in part, for the enormous cardiovascular morbidity in this population.
PMCID: PMC2900210  PMID: 20628606
22.  Ectopic primary type A thymoma located in two thoracic vertebras: a case report 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:322.
The thymus arises in the ventral portion of the third and fourth pharyngeal pouch. It descends into the anterior mediastinum at 6th week of gestation. Any errors occurring during this process can cause dissemination of aberrant nodules that are responsible for most atypical thymomas.
Case Presentation
The authors report a unusual case of type-A thymoma located in D10 and D11 vertebral bodies.
The histology showed a uniform growth of short, spindle shaped, mitotically inactive cells. A few small, normal lymphocytes were seen scattered or in small groups. The immunohistochemical investigation for neuroectodermal, neuroendocrine, vascular and muscular markers were negative. It also confirmed the presence of CD3+, CD5+ T lymphocytes and the absence of immature T-lymphocyte markers.
The case described shows a thymic hystogenesis for spindle cell tumours. To our knowledge no other cases of vertebral thymomas have been described in international literature.
PMCID: PMC2903530  PMID: 20573206
23.  Mazabraud’s syndrome: a new case and review of the literature 
International Orthopaedics  2008;33(3):605-610.
The association between muscular myxomas and fibrous dysplasia is a rare condition known as Mazabraud’s syndrome, as reported by Henschen (Verh Dtsch Ges Pathol 21:93–97, 1926) and Mazabraud A and Girard (Rev Rhum Mal Osteoartic 24(9–10):652–659, 1957). We report a case of a 32-year-old woman with multiple myxomas in her right thigh and monomelic fibrous dysplasia. A review of the international literature referring to 67 cases to date was carried out. The syndrome is characterised by the following features: females are twice as likely to be affected as males; the lower limbs are the most frequently affected, fibrous dysplasia is more common in the femur and the pelvis and myxomas in the quadriceps muscle; myxoma is multiple in more than 70% of cases. Although there has never been any continuity between tumours and bone lesions, a significant correlation between dysplastic bone and myxoma has been revealed.
PMCID: PMC2903125  PMID: 18214477
24.  Novel siRNA Delivery System to Target Podocytes In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9463.
Podocytes are injured in several glomerular diseases. To alter gene expression specifically in podocytes in vivo, we took advantage of their active endocytotic machinery and developed a method for the targeted delivery of small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNA). We generated an anti-mouse podocyte antibody that binds to rat and mouse podocytes in vivo. The polyclonal IgG antibody was cleaved into monovalent fragments, while preserving the antigen recognition sites. One Neutravidin molecule was linked to each monovalent IgG via the available sulfohydryl group. Protamine, a polycationic nuclear protein and universal adaptor for anionic siRNA, was linked to the neutravidin via biotin. The delivery system was named shamporter (sheep anti mouse podocyte transporter). Injection of shamporter coupled with either nephrin siRNA or TRPC6 siRNA via tail vein into normal rats substantially reduced the protein levels of nephrin or TRPC6 respectively, measured by western blot analysis and immunostaining. The effect was target specific because other podocyte-specific genes remained unchanged. Shamporter + nephrin siRNA induced transient proteinuria in rats. Control rats injected with shamporter coupled to control-siRNA showed no changes. These results show for the first time that siRNA can be delivered efficiently and specifically to podocytes in vivo using an antibody-delivery system.
PMCID: PMC2830889  PMID: 20209128
25.  Glucocorticoid Effects on the Programming of AT1b Angiotensin Receptor Gene Methylation and Expression in the Rat 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9237.
Adverse events in pregnancy may ‘programme’ offspring for the later development of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Previously, using a rodent model of programmed hypertension we have demonstrated the role of the renin-angiotensin system in this process. More recently we showed that a maternal low protein diet resulted in undermethylation of the At1b angiotensin receptor promoter and the early overexpression of this gene in the adrenal of offspring. Here, we investigate the hypothesis that maternal glucocorticoid modulates this effect on fetal DNA methylation and gene expression. We investigated whether treatment of rat dams with the 11β-hydroxylase inhibitor metyrapone, could prevent the epigenetic and gene expression changes we observed. Offspring of mothers subjected to a low protein diet in pregnancy showed reduced adrenal Agtr1b methylation and increased adrenal gene expression as we observed previously. Treatment of mothers with metyrapone for the first 14 days of pregnancy reversed these changes and prevented the appearance of hypertension in the offspring at 4 weeks of age. As a control for non-specific effects of programmed hypertension we studied offspring of mothers treated with dexamethasone from day 15 of pregnancy and showed that, whilst they had raised blood pressure, they failed to show any evidence of Agtr1b methylation or increase in gene expression. We conclude that maternal glucocorticoid in early pregnancy may induce changes in methylation and expression of the Agtr1b gene as these are clearly reversed by an 11 beta-hydroxylase inhibitor. However in later pregnancy a converse effect with dexamethasone could not be demonstrated and this may reflect either an alternative mechanism of this glucocorticoid or a stage-specific influence.
PMCID: PMC2821904  PMID: 20169056

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