M Casasco

University of Pavia, Pavia, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (45)67.61 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Biological risk management is required in modern tissue engineering. Particular attention should be paid to the culture medium and the scaffold used. In this perspective, it is important to define minimal culture conditions which allow proper growth and differentiation of epithelial cells in vitro. We propose a simple experimental system which permits the generation of three-dimensional epidermal constructs using a collagen layer as a scaffold mimicking the entire dermal tissue and without the need of any feeder layer. Although showing significant differences compared to natural epidermis, these epidermal constructs appear useful to study keratinocyte differentiation and epidermis histogenesis.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2010; 585:25-43. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biological risk management is required in modern tissue engineering. Particular attention should be paid to the culture medium and the scaffold used. In this perspective, it is important to define minimal culture conditions which allow proper growth and differentiation of epithelial cells in vitro. We propose a simple experimental system which permits the generation of three-dimensional epidermal constructs using a collagen layer as a scaffold mimicking the entire dermal tissue and without the need of any feeder layer. Although showing significant differences compared to natural epidermis, these epidermal constructs appear useful to study keratinocyte differentiation and epidermis histogenesis.
    Methods Mol Biol. 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: The development of antibodies to cell cycle-related antigens provides the basis for immunochemical studies on cell kinetics. Bromo-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporated by S-phase traversing cells is an exogenous marker of replicating cells, whereas proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is an endogenous marker of replicating cells. We have applied monoclonal antibodies to BrdU and PCNA to study cell kinetics in tooth germ by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. BrdU-antibody reacted only with S phase-traversing cells in pulse-labelling experiments, whereas PCNA-antibody reacted with G1, S and G2-M phases traversing cells. Although the number of PCNA-positive cells largely exceeded the number of BrdU-labelled cells, the pattern distribution of immunoreactive cells was similar using BrdU-and PCNA-antibodies as revealed by immunohistochemistry. The use of PCNA-antibody allowed the detection of proliferating cells also in human tooth germ. It is suggested that combined identification of BrdU and PCNA on one side and growth factors, oncoproteins or differentiation markers on the other side may constitute a useful approach to understand the mechanisms of cell differentiation in tooth germ.
    Connective Tissue Research 07/2009; 32(1-4):63-70. · 1.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the diastrophic dysplasia sulphate transporter (dtdst) gene causes different forms of chondrodysplasia in the human. The generation of a knock-in mouse strain with a mutation in dtdst gene provides the basis to study developmental dynamics in the epiphyseal growth plate and long bone growth after impairment of the sulphate pathway. Our microscopical and histochemical data demonstrate that dtdst gene impairment deeply affects tissue organization, matrix structure, and cell differentiation in the epiphyseal growth plate. In mutant animals, the height of the growth plate was significantly reduced, according to a concomitant decrease in cell density and proliferation. Although the pathway of chondrocyte differentiation seemed complete, alteration in cell morphology compared to normal counterparts was detected. In the extracellular matrix, it we observed a dramatic decrease in sulphated proteoglycans, alterations in the organization of type II and type X collagen fibers, and premature onset of mineralization. These data confirm the crucial role of sulphate pathway in proteoglycan biochemistry and suggest that a disarrangement of the extracellular matrix may be responsible for the development of dtdts cartilage dysplasia. Moreover, we corroborated the concept that proteoglycans not only are structural components of the cartilage architecture, but also play a dynamic role in the regulation of chondrocyte growth and differentiation.
    Connective tissue research 02/2009; 50(4):232-42. · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the diastrophic dysplasia sulphate transporter (dtdst) gene causes different forms of chondrodysplasia in the human. The generation of a knock-in mouse strain with a mutation in dtdst gene provides the basis to study developmental dynamics in the epiphyseal growth plate and long bone growth after impairment of the sulphate pathway. Our microscopical and histochemical data demonstrate that dtdst gene impairment deeply affects tissue organization, matrix structure, and cell differentiation in the epiphyseal growth plate. In mutant animals, the height of the growth plate was significantly reduced, according to a concomitant decrease in cell density and proliferation. Although the pathway of chondrocyte differentiation seemed complete, alteration in cell morphology compared to normal counterparts was detected. In the extracellular matrix, it we observed a dramatic decrease in sulphated proteoglycans, alterations in the organization of type II and type X collagen fibers, and premature onset of mineralization. These data confirm the crucial role of sulphate pathway in proteoglycan biochemistry and suggest that a disarrangement of the extracellular matrix may be responsible for the development of dtdts cartilage dysplasia. Moreover, we corroborated the concept that proteoglycans not only are structural components of the cartilage architecture, but also play a dynamic role in the regulation of chondrocyte growth and differentiation.
    Connective Tissue Research 01/2009; · 1.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The histogenesis of bone tissue is strongly influenced by physical forces, including magnetic fields. Recent advances in tissue engineering has permitted the generation of three dimensional bone-like constructs.We have investigated the effects of electromagnetic stimulation on human osteoblast cells grown in a hydrophobic polyurethane scaffold. Bone-like constructs were stimulated by pulsed electromagnetic fields in a bioreactor. Proliferation, bone protein expression and calcified matrix production by osteoblasts were measured using histochemical methods. In stimulated cultures, the number of cells was significantly higher compared to static (control) cultures. In both stimulated and control cultures, cells were immunoreactive to osteoblast markers, including type-I collagen, osteocalcin and osteopontin, thus suggesting that the expression of bone-related markers was maintained throughout the in vitro experiments. Morphometric analysis of von Kossa-stained sections revealed that stimulation with electromagnetic field significantly increased matrix calcification. The data lend support to the view that the application of a magnetic field can be used to stimulate cell growth in bone-like constructs in vitro. This finding may be of interest for the production of biomaterials designed for clinical applications.
    European Journal of Histochemistry. 01/2009;
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    ABSTRACT: Because engineered tissues are designed for clinical applications in humans, a major problem is the contamination of cocultures and tissues by allogenic molecules used to grow stem cells in vitro. The protocols that are commonly applied to generate epidermal equivalents in vitro require the use of irradiated murine fibroblasts as a feeder layer for keratinocytes. In this study, we report a simple procedure for growing human keratinocytes, isolated from adult skin, to generate an epidermal construct on a collagen layer alone. In this model, no human or murine feeder layers were used to amplify cell growth, and isolated keratinocytes were seeded directly at high cell density on the collagen-coated flasks or coverslips in an epithelial growth medium containing low calcium concentration. Morphological, immunochemical, and cytokinetic features of epithelial colonies grown on the collagen layer were typical of keratinocytes and were comparable with those reported for keratinocytes grown on a feeder layer. The stratification of keratinocytes generated 3-dimensional synthetic constructs displaying a tissue architecture comparable with that of natural epidermis. Epithelial cells expressed specific markers of keratinocyte terminal differentiation, including involucrin and filaggrin. Nevertheless, the number of cell layers was lower than in natural skin, and electron microscopical analysis revealed that the overall organization of these layers was poor compared with natural epidermis, including the formation of junctional complexes, basement membrane, and keratinization. The lack of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that occur during skin histogenesis may account for such an incomplete maturation of epidermal constructs.
    Tissue Engineering 12/2007; 13(11):2769-79. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because engineered tissues are designed for clinical applications in humans, a major problem is the contamination of cocultures and tissues by allogenic molecules used to grow stem cells in vitro. The protocols that are commonly applied to generate epidermal equivalents in vitro require the use of irradiated murine fibroblasts as a feeder layer for keratinocytes. In this study, we report a simple procedure for growing human keratinocytes, isolated from adult skin, to generate an epidermal construct on a collagen layer alone. In this model, no human or murine feeder layers were used to amplify cell growth, and isolated keratinocytes were seeded directly at high cell density on the collagen-coated flasks or coverslips in an epithelial growth medium containing low calcium concentration. Morphological, immunochemical, and cytokinetic features of epithelial colonies grown on the collagen layer were typical of keratinocytes and were comparable with those reported for keratinocytes grown on a feeder layer. The stratification of keratinocytes generated 3-dimensional synthetic constructs displaying a tissue architecture comparable with that of natural epidermis. Epithelial cells expressed specific markers of keratinocyte terminal differentiation, including involucrin and filaggrin. Nevertheless, the number of cell layers was lower than in natural skin, and electron microscopical analysis revealed that the overall organization of these layers was poor compared with natural epidermis, including the formation of junctional complexes, basement membrane, and keratinization. The lack of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that occur during skin histogenesis may account for such an incomplete maturation of epidermal constructs
    Tissue Engineering 11/2007; · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Information concerning cell proliferation and differentiation in dental pulp may be important to understand tooth response to exogenous stimuli. Since few data concerning human dental pulp are available, we have investigated the growth fraction and the localization of proliferating cells in pulp tissue of third molars of young adult human males and females, using flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrates a low proliferative activity of pulp tissue that appears to be confined to radicular pulp, as revealed by immunohistochemical detection of proliferating cells. No polyploid or aneuploid cell populations could be identified, and G2-blocked cells, if any. represented a negligible cell population. Odontoblasts, cells of the sub-odontoblastic layer, and cells of coronal pulp were found to be not proliferating under normal conditions. These data provide the basis for future investigations on proliferative activity and regenerative potentiality of human pulp cells in experimental and clinical situations.
    European Journal Of Oral Sciences 09/2007; 105(6):609 - 613. · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epithelial tissues emerge from coordinated sequences of cell renewal, specialization and assembly. Like corresponding immature tissues, adult epithelial tissues are provided by stem cells which are responsible for tissue homeostasis. Advances in epithelial histogenesis has permitted to clarify several aspects related to stem cell identification and dynamics and to understand how stem cells interact with their environment, the so-called stem cell niche. The development and maintenance of epithelial tissues involves epithelial-mesenchymal signalling pathways and cell-matrix interactions which control target nuclear factors and genes. The tooth germ is a prototype for such inductive tissue interactions and provides a powerful experimental system for the study of genetic pathways during development. Clonogenic epithelial cells isolated from developing as well mature epithelial tissues has been used to engineer epithelial tissue-equivalents, e.g. epidermal constructs, that are used in clinical practise and biomedical research. Information on molecular mechanisms which regulate epithelial histogenesis, including the role of specific growth/differentiation factors and cognate receptors, is essential to improve epithelial tissue engineering.
    European journal of histochemistry: EJH 02/2007; 51 Suppl 1:93-9. · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The histogenesis of bone tissue is strongly influenced by physical forces, including magnetic fields. Recent advances in tissue engineering has permitted the generation of three dimensional bone-like constructs. We have investigated the effects of electromagnetic stimulation on human osteoblast cells grown in a hydrophobic polyurethane scaffold. Bone-like constructs were stimulated by pulsed electromagnetic fields in a bioreactor. Proliferation, bone protein expression and calcified matrix production by osteoblasts were measured using histochemical methods. In stimulated cultures, the number of cells was significantly higher compared to static (control) cultures. In both stimulated and control cultures, cells were immunoreactive to osteoblast markers, including type-I collagen, osteocalcin and osteopontin, thus suggesting that the expression of bone-related markers was maintained throughout the in vitro experiments. Morphometric analysis of von Kossa-stained sections revealed that stimulation with electromagnetic field significantly increased matrix calcification. The data lend support to the view that the application of a magnetic field can be used to stimulate cell growth in bone-like constructs in vitro. This finding may be of interest for the production of biomaterials designed for clinical applications.
    European journal of histochemistry: EJH 01/2006; 50(3):199-204. · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The p63 gene encodes six splice variants expressed with transactivating or dominant-negative activities. Animal studies with p63 -/- mutants have suggested that p63 is important for proper development of several organs, including tooth and salivary gland. Moreover, mutations of p63 have been detected in patients affected by ectrodactyly, ectodermal dysplasia and facial clefts. To clarify the role of p63 in craniofacial development, we have studied the localization of p63 protein in human and rat oral tissues using immunohistochemistry. p63 immunostaining was identified in the enamel organ, oral epithelium and developing salivary glands. All compartments of the enamel organ were immunolabelled, whereas only basal and some suprabasal cells of the oral epithelium were stained. Ectomesenchyme-derived cells, including pulp cells, odontoblasts, bone cells and chondrocytes, were negative. The staining pattern was identical in human and rat tissues. These data lend support to the hypothesis that p63 is involved in growth and differentation of ectoderm-derived oral tissues and may be useful to clarify molecular and developmental aspects observed in animal knockout experiments and human syndromes related to p63 gene alteration.
    Italian journal of anatomy and embryology = Archivio italiano di anatomia ed embriologia 01/2006; 111(3):125-31.
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    ABSTRACT: Cell kinetic studies provide important information on histogenesis in vivo and in vitro. In this regard, specific antibodies to cell cycle-related antigens have been raised and characterized, thus permitting the study of cell kinetics using immunochemical methods. Recent advances in culture technology permitted the generation of human skin equivalents in vitro. We here provide detailed practical procedures for the study of epidermal cell kinetics in a model of artificial skin using immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. The combined application of both techniques allows a precise detection of tissue growth sites and a quantitative assessment of cell growth. Moreover, simultaneous analysis of differentiation markers and proliferation antigens may be useful to understand molecular mechanisms that regulate tissue growth and development.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 02/2005; 289:229-38. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue-engineered skins (TES), manufactured by epidermal and dermal equivalents, are now being used in biological, pharmacotoxicological and clinical applications. It is thus interesting to know to what extent artificial organs are similar to natural counterparts. Elastic fibres are important constituents of the extracellular matrix of natural skin (NS). The aim of our study was to investigate the possible occurrence and distribution of elastic tissue in a model of human TES using different histochemical techniques, including classical Orcein and Fuchsin-Resorcin methods and immunohistochemistry, at both light and electron microscopical levels. Immunoperoxidase and high resolution immunogold methods were used. In NS, classical staining techniques and elastin-immunohistochemistry revealed a well-organized network of elastic fibres. High resolution immunocytochemistry revealed an intense labelling in the amorphous component of elastic fibres. Fibres of different diameters were immunostained. In TES, no stained elastic fibres were observed using classical staining techniques, and the interpretation of immunoperoxidase observations was not clear-cut. In contrast, immunogold staining at the electron microscopical level provided specific labelling of elastin-like immunoreactive material in the dermal equivalent. However, ultrastructural immunocytochemistry revealed that elastic tissue organization in TES was poor compared to that in NS. This study demonstrates that elastic fibres are a component of the extracellular matrix in this model of TES and suggests that fibroblasts of the dermal equivalent are engaged in matrix secretion. Nevertheless, the level of extracellular matrix organization in TES is low compared to NS. Moreover, this study also suggests that different models of bilayered TES may differ with respect to extracellular matrix organization. These aspects should be considered when TES is used in biological and pharmacotoxicological studies. A better understanding of the factors influencing extracellular matrix formation in TES is necessary to achieve further development of skin generation in vitro.
    Journal of Molecular Histology 06/2004; 35(4):421-8. · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thrombosis of the arterial microanastomosis is the major reason for flap complications. Thrombus formation can occur rapidly at the site of anastomosis, or it may be delayed in developing, inducing secondary ischemia. The damaged endothelial cells and the exposed connective tissue play an important role in the molecular and cell mechanisms of coagulation and thrombosis. For this reason the early morphological changes in the endothelial cell layer after arterial microanastomoses in the rat were investigated. The results showed that the anastomotic site appeared completely sealed, with cut ends protruding into the vessel lumen. Extensive deendothelialized areas with fibrin deposition were visible between surgical microclamps on the inner surface of the artery. For this reason we believe that the damaged endothelium and exposed connective tissue elements are the primary cause of thrombin formation, platelet accumulation, and thrombosis at the anastomotic site. The reconstructive surgeon must employ a very meticulous microvascular technique to minimize damage to the vascular endothelium.
    European Journal of Plastic Surgery 03/2003; 26(1):26-28.
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    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in culturing technology has permitted the production of organotypic models that may be referred to as human skin equivalents (HSE). We have studied histochemical, ultrastructural, and kinetic aspects of an HSE composed by an epidermal equivalent and a dermal equivalent separated by a basement membrane. Only keratinocytes and fibroblasts were present in the epidermal and dermal equivalents, respectively; cells of other lineages were lacking. Keratinocyte stratification and differentiation seemed similar to natural skin. Evidence is shown that such an HSE may also release growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor that are believed to play a role in skin grafting. The distribution of cycling cells as well as the values of the growth fraction are comparable to those observed in natural skin. Although the absence of several cells populations that reside in natural skin is a remarkable feature of this HSE, the high levels of tissue organization and cell differentiation lead us to believe that such an HSE may be considered a candidate substitute of human skin in biological, pharmacologic, and clinical applications.
    The Anatomical Record 12/2001; 264(3):261-72.
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    ABSTRACT: Bioengineered organs raised in vitro are candidate substitutes for natural organs in biological, pharmacological and clinical applications. We have studied cell kinetics in a human skin equivalent (HSE) using a combined immunohistochemical and flow cytometric approach. Morphological analysis has shown that, relative to unstimulated natural skin, cell proliferation mainly occurs in the basal layer of the epidermal equivalent. Immunohistochemical and flow cytometric measurements of the growth fraction suggested a cell turnover comparable to that of natural skin. Immunohistochemical labelling indices matched well with flow cytometric data. These observations are consistent with morphological and histochemical data demonstrating normal cell differentiation and tissue architecture in HSE and suggest that such HSE may be a usefull substitute for human skin.
    European journal of histochemistry: EJH 02/2001; 45(2):125-30. · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Culture technology have permitted the generation of an artificial skin using human neonatal stem cells. A major advantage of this model is that epithelial-mesenchymal interactions are maintained. We have studied some morphological aspects concerning tissue organisation and cell differentiation using immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. The epidermal equivalent was composed by a stratified and keratinized epithelium. The cells of this epithelium were cytokeratin-positive and disposed in different layers corresponding to natural skin, i.e. basal, spinous, granular and keratinized layers. The ultrastructural aspects concerning keratinocyte differentiation were comparable to natural epidermis. The dermal equivalent was composed by a loose connective tissue. The cells of the dermal equivalent were vimentin-positive and belonged to the fibroblast lineage. Although poorly developed, a basement membrane was detectable in the dermo-epidermal junction. The organ architecture and the high level of cell differentiation suggest that this bioengineered skin might be considered a useful substitute for natural skin in clinical, biological and pharmacological applications.
    Italian journal of anatomy and embryology = Archivio italiano di anatomia ed embriologia 01/2001; 106(3):239-49.
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    ABSTRACT: Information concerning cell proliferation and differentiation in dental pulp may be important to understand tooth response to exogenous stimuli. Since few data concerning human dental pulp are available, we have investigated the growth fraction and the localization of proliferating cells in pulp tissue of third molars of young adult human males and females, using flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrates a low proliferative activity of pulp tissue that appears to be confined to radicular pulp, as revealed by immunohistochemical detection of proliferating cells. No polyploid or aneuploid cell populations could be identified, and G2-blocked cells, if any, represented a negligible cell population. Odontoblasts, cells of the sub-odontoblastic layer, and cells of coronal pulp were found to be not proliferating under normal conditions. These data provide the basis for future investigations on proliferative activity and regenerative potentiality of human pulp cells in experimental and clinical situations.
    European Journal Of Oral Sciences 01/1998; 105(6):609-13. · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 4-Hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) is a major propagation product of lipid peroxidation that is supposed to be responsible for some of the effects associated with oxidative stress in tissues. We have investigated the possible occurrence and distribution of 4-HNE-immunoreactivity in human normal placenta using immunocytochemistry. Specific immunostaining was observed in cytotrophoblast cells, syncytiotrophoblast, some cells of the villous mesenchyme and some endothelial cells of first trimester and term placentae. The detection of 4-HNE-immunoreactivity in placenta raises the question whether lipoperoxidation products are produced locally in placental cells or represent exogenous products that derive from maternal blood flow. Since trophoblastic cells and villous macrophages are provided by a scavenger receptor, it is conceivable that these cells may play a protective role with regard to the diffusion of lipoperoxidation products from the mother to the embryo. However, since a significant degree of lipid oxidative modification does not take place in plasma, it is presumed that 4-HNE is a local product of placental metabolism. In line with this hypothesis, it is proposed that maternal low density lipoproteins, which are the major source of cholesterol for placental steroid synthesis, might be oxidized by villous cells during their traversal through the villous wall.
    Placenta 06/1997; 18(4):249-53. · 3.12 Impact Factor