[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), a member of the family of epidermal growth factors (EGFs), is involved in several biological processes and tumor formation. Several lines of evidence show that HB-EGF plays a key role in the acquisition of malignant phenotype. Studies show that HB-EGF expression is essential in oncogenesis of cancer-derived cell lines. HB-EGF is a promising target for cancer therapy. The aim of this study was to find new insights on the biological features of the soft tissue sarcomas, in order to consider the possibility to use HB-EGF as an immuno-target in histotype characterization and to facilitate therapeutic intervention. In our study we did HB-EGF-immunostaining on tissue samples collected from 43 human soft tissue sarcomas. We analyzed HB-EGF immunoexpression in some types of tumors such as clear cell sarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, phyllodes sarcomas, chondrosarcomas and liposarcomas. In relation to the different histotypes, we detected different immunostaining localization. From our results it was evident that pleomorphic cells, a signal of tumor progression, were HB-EGF immunostained, and this was accompanied by an extracellular matrix immunostaining. Moreover statistical analysis showed a correlation between HB-EGF immunostaining and the different types of analyzed soft tissue sarcomas. In conclusion, in some types of soft tissue sarcoma HB-EGF could be considered a useful diagnostic marker for their characterization.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim: Cells involved in atherogenesis produce growth factors crucial for the progression of the atherosclerotic lesions. One of them is the heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, synthesized as a transmembrane precursor (proHB-EGF). This anchored insoluble juxtacrine growth factor can be converted into a soluble molecule with paracrine activity and mature HB-EGF is released in the extracellular matrix from the cell surface. HB-EGF is a potent stimulator of cell proliferation, migration and cell motility and several studies show that HB-EGF is associated with pathologies of hyperplasia of smooth muscle cells including atherosclerosis. Methods: We localized HB-EGF by immunohistochemistry within the atherosclerotic lesions collected from right or left internal carotid artery of 20 patients with evident clinical symptoms. Results: In the 20 samples we tested, the proportion of positive samples was significant. Considering the only positive samples the proportion difference related to the gender of patients was highly significant. Conclusion.:The aim of our investigation was to better understand if this growth factor exerts its role through a juxtacrine or paracrine mechanism, or both in the process of atherogenesis. According to the results, the paracrine role of HB-EGF was clear.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have examined the influence of the nitric oxide (NO)-modified anti-inflammatory drug (S,R)-3-phenyl-4,5-dihydro-5-isoxasole acetic acid (VGX-1027) named GIT-27NO or the NO-modified antiviral drug saquinavir (Saq) named Saq-NO on two colon cancer cell lines, mouse CT26CL25 and human HCT116. The effects of the drugs on cell viability, apoptosis, proliferation, and metastatic potential were analyzed. The release of NO and oxygen and nitrogen species was also determined. The efficacy of the drugs was evaluated in vivo in BALB/c mice injected with CT26CL25 cells. Both agents suppressed the growth of colon cancer cells in vitro and reduced tumor volume in syngeneic BALB/c mice. However, their mechanisms of action were different because GIT-27NO released larger amounts of nitrite than Saq-NO in cell cultures and its antitumor action depended on the intracellular NO release inside the cells. On the contrary, Saq-NO released barely detectable amounts of NO and its antitumor action was NO-independent. In fact, cotreatment with an NO-peroxynitrite scavenger revealed that GIT-27NO but not Saq-NO acts through peroxynitrite-mediated cell destruction. At the cellular level, GIT-27NO prevalently induced proapoptotic signals followed by caspase-dependent apoptosis. In contrast, Saq-NO blocked cell proliferation, changed the adhesive, migratory, and invasive properties of the cells, and decreased metastatic potential in vivo. In conclusion, differences in NO release and oxidative stress generation between GIT-27NO and Saq-NO resulted in different mechanisms that caused cell death.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tumor microenvironment has been largely studied as a dynamic system orchestrated by inflammatory cells, including cancer cells, stroma as well as the extracellular matrix. It is useful to describe and predict the phenotypic characteristics of cancer. Furthermore, a better understanding of its interplay with the various aspects of the tumor cells may be utilized for the discovery of novel molecular targets. Liver cancer is considered a model of the relation occurring between the tumor micro-environment and tumor development. The chronic inflammatory status of the liver, sustained by the infection of hepatitis viruses, as well as the production of cytokines and growth factors within the parenchyma, lead to an intricate microenvironment. The identification of novel molecular therapeutic targets may improve the outcome of patients with liver cancer as it remains the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. In the present study, the tumor microenvironment in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was explored by a review of the literature. Studies on hepatitis virus infections and the consequent chronic inflammatory status were examined. In this context, immune-mediated and/or virus-related molecular mechanisms have been hypothesized as being responsible for liver cancer development. The interlink among HCC microenvironment components, comprising cellular elements, cytokines, growth factors and several proteins is also described together with the role of matrix metalloproteinases in HCC development. Finally, the rationale for targeting tumor-stromal interface is summarized in the context of new therapeutic opportunities.
International Journal of Oncology 03/2012; 40(6):1733-47. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most common therapeutic approach for many cancers is chemotherapy. However, many patients relapse after treatment due to the development of chemoresistance. Recently, targeted therapies represent novel approaches to destroy cancer cells. The PI3K/PTEN/AKT pathway is a key signaling pathway involved in the regulation of cell growth. Dysregulated signaling of this pathway may be associated with activating mutations of PI3K-related genes. Analyses of these mutations reveal that they increase the PI3K signal, stimulate downstream Akt signaling, promote growth factor-independent growth and increase cell invasion and metastasis. In this review, we summarize the PI3K/PTEN/AKT pathway genetic alterations in cancer and their potential clinical applications.
International Journal of Oncology 12/2011; 40(3):639-44. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have analyzed the proteomes of two human melanoma cell lines (A375 and 526), and of the human melanocytes, (FOM 78), by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) and liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Our comparative proteomic analysis revealed that six proteins were over-expressed in both melanoma cell lines as compared to melanocytes: galectin-1, inosine-5'-monophosphate dehydrogenase 2, serine/threonine-protein phosphatase 2A 65 kDa regulatory subunit A alpha isoform, protein DJ-1, cyclophilin A and cofilin-1. We show, for the first time, that only specific isoforms of these molecules are over-expressed in melanoma. Different protein profiles were also found between each individual melanoma cell line and the melanocytes. s-Methyl-5-thioadenosine phosphorylase, ubiquitin and ribosomal protein S27 a precursor, the basic form of protein DJ-1, annexin a1, proliferation associated protein 2g4, isoform alfa-enolase of alfa-enolase, protein disulfide-isomerase precursor, and elongation factor 2 were more strongly expressed in A375 cells compared to melanocytes. In 526 cells, 60s acidic ribosomal protein p1 and calreticulin precursor were more highly expressed than in melanocytes. These molecular differences may help in better understanding melanoma development and its different responsiveness to therapies. The identified proteins could be exploited as biomarkers or therapeutic targets for melanoma.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ATRX is a severe X-linked disorder characterized by mental retardation, facial dysmorphism, urogenital abnormalities and alpha-thalassemia. The disease is caused by mutations in ATRX gene, which encodes a protein belonging to the SWI/SNF DNA helicase family, a group of proteins involved in the regulation of gene transcription at the chromatin level. In order to identify specific genes involved in the pathogenesis of the disease, we compared, by cDNA microarray, the expression levels of approximately 8500 transcripts between ATRX and normal males of comparable age.
cDNA microarray was performed using total RNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ATRX and normal males. Microarray results were validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.
cDNA microarray analysis showed that 35 genes had a lower expression (30-35% of controls) while 25 transcripts had a two-fold higher expression in comparison to controls. In the microarray results the probe for oligophrenin-1, a gene known for its involvement in mental retardation, showed a decreased hybridization signal. However, such gene was poorly expressed in blood mononuclear cells and its decrease was not confirmed in the quantitative real-time RT-PCR assay. On the other hand, the expression of an homologous gene, the GTPase regulator associated with the focal adhesion kinase 1/Oligophrenin-1-like (GRAF1/OPHN-1-L), was relatively high in blood mononuclear cells and significantly decreased in ATRX patients. The analysis of the expression pattern of the GRAF1/OPHN-1-L gene in human tissues and organs revealed the predominant brain expression of a novel splicing isoform, called variant-3.
Our data support the hypothesis of a primary role for altered gene expression in ATRX syndrome and suggest that the GRAF1/OPHN-1-L gene might be involved in the pathogenesis of the mental retardation. Moreover a novel alternative splicing transcript of such gene, predominantly expressed in brain tissues, was identified.
BMC Medical Genomics 01/2010; 3:28. · 3.47 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Host factors, including genetic polymorphisms, may explain some of the individual differences in cervical cancer occurrence, and susceptibility information may be useful to address effective and specific preventive strategies for different countries. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of p53 codon 72, glutathione S-transferase class mu (GSTM1), glutathione S-transferase class theta (GSTT1), and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T polymorphisms on the risk for infection and/or of cervical intraepithelial lesions in women attending a colposcopy service in Catania, Sicily, with an already reported high prevalence of human papillomavirus.
To identify the association among individual genetic polymorphisms, human papillomavirus infection, and histological findings, a case-control study was designed. Furthermore, to assess the combined effects of these polymorphisms on cervical cancer risk, combined genotype frequencies were compared among case patients and controls.
Women homozygous for the p53 codon 72 Arg genotype were at a 5.6-fold higher risk for developing cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2 or 3 compared with those showing homozygosity for the Pro genotype or heterozygosity for the Pro/Arg genotype. The GSTM1 and GSTT1 null genotypes were overrepresented in infected patients and in women with CIN 2 or 3, although without any significant associations. A decreased risk for CIN of individuals homozygous for the MTHFR T allele was shown.
After multiple logistic analyses, the presence of the allele 677T of the MTHFR gene was the best explaining protective factor against cervical carcinogenesis, and the allelic distribution in the control group followed the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium expectations. However, the findings of our study still remain to be confirmed by additional and larger population-based surveys.
International Journal of Gynecological Cancer 01/2010; 20(1):141-6. · 1.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been strongly and consistently associated with cervical carcinoma and its cytologic precursors, such as squamous intraepithelial lesions. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with the aim of estimating the prevalence of cervical HPV infection in women attending a service of colposcopy in Catania, Eastern Sicily, Italy.
The prevalence of type-specific HPV was examined in women with negative colposcopic results and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grades 1, 2, or 3, with the aim of providing some cross-sectional figures on the local epidemiology of HPV infection.
Human papillomavirus DNA was found in 62.1% of women with negative colposcopic results and in 73.2% with positive colposcopic results. Among high-risk types, a predominance of HPV-16 (51.5% of infected women) was shown followed by HPV-56 (29.7%). An age-related pattern was described with a peak in HPV prevalence among women younger than 25 years, followed by the expected decline in prevalence and a second characteristic peak in the perimenopausal or postmenopausal years, useful to design future control strategies.
The age-related pattern of HPV prevalence and the presence of uncommon high-risk genotypes and their role in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer need to be addressed by specific epidemiologic studies to design large-scale screening programs and multivalent vaccine strategies.
International Journal of Gynecological Cancer 08/2009; 19(6):1094-8. · 1.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gallbladder wall thickening and impaired contractility are currently reported in cirrhotic patients and often related to portal hypertension and hepatic failure. The purpose of this work was to evaluate, by ultrasonographic method, gallbladder wall thickness and gallbladder emptying after a standard meal in normal subjects and in patients with compensated liver cirrhosis without gallstones.
Twenty-three patients with Child-Pugh class A liver cirrhosis and twenty healthy controls were studied. Gallbladder wall thickness (GWT), gallbladder fasting volume (FV), residual volume (RV), and maximum percentage of emptying (%E) were calculated. Measurements of mean portal velocity, portal vein flow, and serum albumin were performed too. Statistical analysis was assessed by Student's "t test" for unpaired data.
GWT was 0.60 +/- 0.22 cm in cirrhotic patients and 0.21 +/- 0.06 cm in controls (P < .0001). FV and RV were, respectively, 37.8 +/- 3.7 cm(3) and 21.8 +/- 3 cm(3) in cirrhotic patients, 21.9 +/- 4.2 cm(3) and 4.6 +/- 2.2 cm(3) in healthy volunteers (P < .0001). %E was smaller in cirrhotics (42.6 +/- 7.8) as compared to controls (80.3 +/- 7.2; P < .0001).
In patients with compensated liver cirrhosis without gallstones gallbladder wall thickness is increased whereas its contractility is reduced. These early structural and functional alterations could play a role in gallstone formation in more advanced stages of the disease.
Gastroenterology Research and Practice 02/2009; 2009:683040. · 1.62 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor is a member of the EGF family, it is a potent mitogen for smooth muscle cells and has been implicated in atherosclerosis, angiogenesis. In athererogenesis, HB-EGF has been detected in medial smooth cells and foamy macrofages. In this work, we have investigate about immunohistocemical localization of HB-EGF in atherosclerotic plaques.
Three cases of man affected by atherosclerosis have been examined. We have collected and examined atherosclerotic plaques by immunohistochemical procedure in optical microscopy. Samples have been incubated with primary Ac (anti-human HB-EGF- goat IgG).
In the three examined cases, results are partly overlap-ping, but with some difference in relation to location of positivity to HB-EGF. Only in one case, HB-EGF staining is rather weak and located just below endothelium where is a thickened area of tissue rich in fibres and few cells, In another case, positivity to HB-EGF is present in an area of connective tissue of the intima. In the last case, positivity to HB-EGF is evident in the context of a presumed elastic tissue with fusiform cells following fibres orientation, and that could be fibroblasts or smooth muscle cells.
These results indicate that HB-EGF is involved in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and that HB-EGF is a possible target for atherosclerosis therapy.
La Clinica terapeutica 01/2009; 160(6):435-9. · 0.33 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prostate cancer remains the second most frequent cause of tumor-related deaths in the Western world. Additional markers for the identification of prostate cancer development and progression are needed. Osteopontin (OPN), which activates matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), is considered a prognostic biomarker in several cancers. "In silico" and experimental approaches were used to determine whether OPN-mediated MMP activation may be a signal of prostate cancer progression.
Pearson correlation coefficients were computed for each OPN/MMP pair across seven publicly available prostate cancer gene expression data sets. Using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis, 101 cancer-related gene sets were analyzed for association with OPN and MMP-9 expression. OPN, MMP-9, MMP-2 tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 plasma levels, and MMP gelatinase activity were measured by ELISA and zymography in 96 and 92 patients with prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia, respectively, and 125 age-matched healthy men.
Computational analyses identified a significant correlation only between MMP-9 and OPN, and showed significant enrichment scores in "cell proliferation", "genes constituting the phosphoinositide-3-kinase predictor", "proliferation signature", and "tumor metastasis" gene sets in association with both OPN and MMP-9. Plasma analyses revealed a significant increase in OPN and MMP-9 levels and activity in patients with prostate cancer in association with clinical variables (prostate-specific antigen > 4 ng/mL and Gleason score > 7). Significant correlation between OPN and MMP-9 levels were also observed. Mean plasma levels of OPN and MMP-9 decreased in patients with prostate cancer within 6 months after prostatectomy.
The concordant computational and experimental data indicate that the extent of OPN pathway activation correlates with prostate cancer progression.
Clinical Cancer Research 11/2008; 14(22):7470-80. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Few studies in literature have investigated the gastric emptying of solids in elderly subjects. We assessed the differences between young and elderly subjects in the gastric emptying rate of solids by a radioisotopic method.
Two groups of 15 elderly male subjects (mean age 68.20 years and 77.26 years, respectively) and a group of young male subjects (mean age 30.23 years) underwent a radioisotopic study of gastric emptying after eating a radiolabeled solid meal. Half-time of gastric emptying (T1/2) and emptying index (EI), i.e. rate of gastric emptying at 120 min, were measured with two opposing detectors connected to a computerized rate-meter. Results are expressed as means +/- SD.
Significantly different values were obtained in the two groups both at T1/2 (183+/-88 and 195+/-75, respectively) and EI (0.40+/-0.3 and 0.36+/-0.4), compared with young subjects (T1/2=53+/-23; EI=1.10+/-0.3) (p<0.0001).
Gastric emptying of solids is significantly delayed in elderly men; this variable must be taken into account when studies on gastric emptying rates are performed.
Aging clinical and experimental research 12/2006; 18(6):493-6. · 1.01 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, by using different techniques (i.e. Northern blot hybridization, RT-PCR and Southern blot hybridization) on various normal rat tissues, we were able to identify liver, kidney, heart, small intestine, brain, spleen, stomach and prostate as tissues in which the ApoH gene is transcribed. Moreover, for some of these tissues, by in situ hybridization, we found a specific localization of apoH transcripts. For instance epithelial cells of the bile ducts in liver and of the proximal tubules in kidney are the major sites of apoH synthesis. Our data suggest that some of the different physiological roles proposed for apoH could correlate with its direct expression, while others could correlate with its absorption from bloodstream or adjacent cells.
International Journal of Molecular Medicine 10/2006; 18(3):449-55. · 1.96 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Partial deletions of the DAZ gene cluster are thought to cause spermatogenesis impairment. The presence of homologous copies of this gene in the Y chromosome does not allow PCR to be used for the identification of this abnormality. Hence, sequence family variants (SFV), following amplification of sY581, sY587 and sY586 and subsequent enzymatic digestion with Sau3A, DraI and TaqI, respectively, and the dual fiber fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) have been used to this aim. However, SFV is not always able to identify single DAZ gene copy deletions. We report a quantitative real-time PCR application to evaluate partial deletions of the DAZ gene cluster. To accomplish this, we designed a probe on exon 6 of the DAZ gene which is repeated 3 times in DAZ1, once in DAZ2 and DAZ3 and twice in DAZ4. Five normozoospermic healthy men (C1-C5) having 4 DAZ gene copies by SFV were selected. Fiber-FISH confirmed this outcome in C1-C4, but not in C5 who had an incomplete DAZ gene cluster. The men underwent then quantitative real-time PCR and C1 was arbitrarily selected as calibrator for the calculation of the DAZ gene signals because of the lowest variation in the threshold cycles. Real-time PCR identified 7.2+/-0.05 signals in C2-C4 and 5.4+/-0.05 signals in C5. The overall coefficient of variation was 1.4+/-0.2%. The loss of two signals in this subject may relate to a deletion of both DAZ2 and DAZ3 or of DAZ4 gene. Since SFV showed clearly the presence of DAZ2, it may be hypothesized that C5 lacks DAZ4. In conclusion, these data suggested that quantitative real-time PCR seems to be an effective and reproducible technique that can be used to study the DAZ gene cluster. In addition, the probe chosen for this approach may give indication on the DAZ gene copy deleted.
International Journal of Molecular Medicine 06/2006; 17(5):785-9. · 1.96 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an endothelial cell mitogen. The objective of this study was to verify the proregenerative effects of VEGF in an experimental model of acute liver failure.
Sixty four rats that underwent intraperitoneal injection of carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)) were randomly divided into two groups: group B animals received intravenous injection of VEGF(164) 1 hour following CCl(4) poisoning. Group A hosts were untreated. To obtain daily liver function tests (LFTs) and histological samples, on each day up to 8 days we sacrificed four rats in each group.
The laboratory examinations showed notable alteration of LFTs in group A, while group B revealed only slight changes. The histological examination showed greater liver damage in group A compared with group B.
Our results suggest that administration of exogenous VEGF protects the liver from CCl(4)-induced acute hepatic failure. Further studies are underway to assess whether exogenous VEGF is effective in other liver injuries.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer, and its incidence is increasing. It was proposed that the RAS oncogene significantly contributes to skin cancer development. Numerous BRAF mutations have been detected in melanoma biopsy specimens and cell lines. For the first time, in the present study, tumor biopsy specimens from 78 patients with BCC were screened for BRAF mutation within exons 11 and 15. Our results indicate that the BRAF gene does not appear to be frequently mutated in nonmelanoma skin tumors such as BCC. These data suggest that other gene alterations may cause tumor development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant inherited disease caused by mutations in the gene coding for the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDL-R). It is characterized by a high concentration of low density lipoprotein (LDL), which frequently gives rise to premature coronary artery disease. We studied the probands of five FH Sicilian families with 'definite' FH and one proband of Paraguayan descent with homozygous FH who has been treated with an effective living-donor liver transplantation. In order to seek the molecular defect in these six families, we used direct sequencing to define the molecular defects of the LDL-R gene responsible for the disease. We described three novel missense mutations (C100Y, C183Y and G440C), two frameshift mutations (g.1162delC in exon 8 and g.2051delC in exon 14) and one mutation (g.2390-1Gright curved arrow A) at splicing acceptor consensus sequences located in intron 16 of the LDL-R gene; the analysis of cDNA of this splicing mutation showed the activation of a cryptic splice site in intron 16 and the binding studies showed a reduction in internalisation of LDL-DIL in the proband's cultured fibroblasts. Moreover, a g.2051delC in exon 14 was identified in the proband of Paraguayan ancestry with clinical features of homozygous FH. The mutation identified in the South American patient represents the first description of a variant in South American patients other than Brazilian FH patients. The 5 mutations identified in the Sicilian patients confirm the heterogeneity of LDL-R gene mutations in Sicily.
International Journal of Molecular Medicine 04/2006; 17(3):539-46. · 1.96 Impact Factor