Eloisa Romano

University of Florence, Florens, Tuscany, Italy

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Publications (34)213.57 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is the leading cause of systemic sclerosis (SSc) related morbidity and mortality. LL-37 peptide is the only cathelicidin of the human antimicrobial peptide family with antimicrobial effects and immunomodulatory activity. LL-37 has anti-fibrotic effects and anti-apoptotic effects on SSc dermal fibroblasts. The aim of the study was to investigate the circulating levels of LL-37 in SSc patients and its association with clinical, laboratory, and instrumental parameters. Fifty-eight SSc patients (30 with and 28 without pulmonary involvement) and 28 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Pulmonary involvement was defined when ILD was found at HRCT (ground glass, reticular, and honeycombing pattern). Circulating LL-37 levels were measured with ELISA test. In SSc patients with ILD serum, LL-37 concentrations were remarkably lower (1.36 mg/ml) than those in SSc patients without ILD (4.62 ng/ml, p = 0.035) and controls (5.53 ng/ml, p = 0.009). In SSc patients without ILD, serum LL-37 levels were not different from controls (p = 0.812). No significant association or correlation was found between LL-37 levels and any other clinical, serological, or instrumental features. Serum LL-37 levels are significantly lower in patients with SSc ILD. Our results may suggest that lower LL-37 levels may be associated with the development of ILD. Whether circulating levels of LL-37 might be used as an indirect marker of ILD remains to be determined in larger SSc cohorts.
    Clinical Rheumatology 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10067-014-2854-1 · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vascular disease is a hallmark of systemic sclerosis (SSc). It is present in every patient, being responsible both for the earliest clinical manifestations and the major life-threatening complications of the disease, and thus determining important morbidity and mortality. In SSc, progressive vascular injury leads to vascular tone dysfunction and reduced capillary blood flow, with consequent tissue ischemia and chronic hypoxia. These phenomena are often accompanied by abnormal levels of vascular factors. Microangiopathy in SSc may be easily assessed by nailfold videocapillaroscopy. The variety of derangements detected in the nailfold capillaries is accompanied by abnormal levels of different vascular mediators and appears to be the best evaluable predictor of the development of peripheral vascular complications, such as digital ulcers. The purpose of this review is to summarize in SSc the most relevant vascular biomarkers and the main associations between vascular biomarkers and capillaroscopic parameters and/or the presence of digital ulcers. Vascular biomarkers could become useful predictive factors of vascular damage in SSc, allowing an earlier management of vascular complications. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Autoimmunity Reviews 12/2014; 14(4). DOI:10.1016/j.autrev.2014.12.001 · 7.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by chronic synovial inflammation and hyperplasia. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) plays a pivotal role in RA by interfering with the Fas-Fas ligand (FasL) proapoptotic pathway. We investigated the circulating levels of soluble Fas (sFas) and soluble FasL (sFasL), and their possible correlation with disease activity and improvement after anti-TNF-alpha treatment in RA. Methods. Serum levels of sFas and sFasL were measured by quantitative ELISA in 52 patients with RA before and after 3 months of anti-TNF-alpha treatment (adalimumab, n = 32; infliximab, n = 20). Disease activity measures [Disease Activity Score at 28 joints-erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP)] were recorded before and after treatment. Forty age-matched and sex-matched healthy subjects served as controls. Results. No significant differences in serum sFas levels were detected between anti-TNF-alpha-naive patients with RA and controls. After anti-TNF-alpha treatment, serum sFas levels significantly increased in patients with RA compared to both anti-TNF-alpha-naive patients and controls. Increased sFas levels inversely correlated with disease activity variables (DAS28-ESR: r = -0.739, CRP: r = -0.636, both p < 0.001). No significant differences in sFasL levels were detected in patients with RA before and after anti-TNF-a treatment. Conclusion. In RA, an increase in sFas levels closely correlates with improvement in disease activity induced by TNF-alpha inhibitors, suggesting their ability to modulate Fas-mediated synoviocyte apoptosis.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 09/2014; 41(10). DOI:10.3899/jrheum.131544 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The main hallmark of systemic sclerosis (SSc) is vasculopathy characterised by dysregulation of angiogenesis and vascular tone leading to loss of capillaries. The vascular and nervous system have several anatomic similarities that extend to level of the molecular mechanisms. Emerging evidence suggests that proteins involved in transmitting axonal guidance cues, including class III semaphorin families, also play a critical role in blood vessel guidance during physiological and pathological vessel development. Sema3E acts through its receptor plexin-D1 to control endothelial cell positioning and patterning of the developing vasculature. Sema3E is a natural antiangiogenic molecule that causes filopodial retraction in endothelial cells inhibiting cell adhesion by disrupting integrin-mediated adhesive structures. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate if plexin-D1/Sema3E axis could be involved in dysregulated vascular tone control (RF) characteristic of SSc. Methods: Sema3E levels were measured by quantitative colorimetric sandwich ELISA in serum samples from 45 subjects with primary Raynaud's phenomenon (PRF) without ANA, Scl70, ACA positivity, 48 SSc patients and 48 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Patients were classified according to nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) patterns (early, active and late). Sema3E levels were expressed as median and range and compared by Mann-Whitney U test. Differences were considered significant for p values less than 0.05. Western blot was used to evaluate plexin-D1/Sema3E axis in human dermal microvascular endothelial cells from healthy subjects (H-MVECs) at basal condition and after stimulation with recombinant human VEGF165 (10 ng/ml), lcSSc sera (n=3) and healthy sera (n=3) for 24h. Results: Sema3E sera levels were significantly higher both in PRF subjects (median 0.54 ng/ml) and SSc patients (median 0.67 ng/ml) respect to healthy controls (median 0.19 ng/ml) (both p<0.001). In particular, sema3E levels were significantly higher in SSc patients with early NVC pattern both respect to active/late pattern and PRF (both p<0.05). Moreover, sema3E levels were significantly increased in SSc patients without ulcers compared with patients with digital ulcers (p=0.018). H-MVECs stimulated with SSc sera and SSc-MVECs showed higher levels of the activated plexin-D1 form and sema3E protein expression in respect to basal H-MVECs and healthy sera. No differences were found in plexin-D1/Sema3E axis after challenging with VEGF. Conclusions: Circulating sema3E is significantly increased both in PRF and SSc. Higher sema3E levels are increased in the early stages of SSc without digital ulcers. Our findings suggest that plexin-D1/Sema3E axis might have a role in the dysregulation of vascular tone control. Disclosure of Interest: None declared DOI: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.3227 Citation: Ann Rheum Dis 2014;73(Suppl2): 573 Session: Scleroderma, myositis and related syndromes - etiology, pathogenesis and animal models
    Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):573-573. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.3227 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):575-575. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.1905 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):867-868. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.2948 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 01/2014; 72(Suppl 3):A540-A540. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-eular.1616 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Haemophilic arthropathy (HA) is characterized by chronic proliferative synovitis leading to cartilage destruction and shares some pathological features with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Apoptosis has been implicated in RA pathogenesis, and an agonistic anti-Fas monoclonal antibody (mAb) was found to induce RA fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS) apoptosis and suppress synovial hyperplasia in animal models of RA. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of anti-Fas mAb on HA-FLS. FLS were isolated from knee synovial biopsies from six HA patients, six RA patients and six healthy subjects. The expression of Fas in synovial biopsies was investigated by immunohistochemistry. FLS were stimulated with anti-Fas mAb at different concentrations, alone or in combination with tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). Fas expression in FLS was assessed by Western blot. Cell viability was studied with the WST-1 assay. Active caspase-3 levels were measured using ELISA and Western blot. A strong Fas-immunoreactivity was observed in different cells of HA synovium, including FLS, inflammatory cells and endothelial cells. Fas antigen was constitutively overexpressed in cultured HA-FLS. Anti-Fas mAb had a significant cytotoxicity on HA-FLS in a dose-dependent manner, either alone or in combination with TNF-α and bFGF. These cytotoxic effects were due to the ability of anti-Fas to induce HA-FLS apoptosis, as shown by the increased active caspase-3 levels. Anti-Fas mAb exhibited a more pronounced pro-apoptotic effect on HA-FLS than RA-FLS. Fas antigen is highly expressed on HA-FLS and its stimulation by anti-Fas mAb may be an effective strategy to induce HA-FLS apoptosis.
    Haemophilia 11/2013; 20(1). DOI:10.1111/hae.12304 · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microvascular damage and defective angiogenesis and vasculogenesis have a major role in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Epidermal growth factor-like domain 7 (EGFL7) is a proangiogenic molecule which is predominantly expressed and secreted by endothelial cells and their progenitors and controls vascular development and integrity. In this study, we investigated the possible involvement of EGFL7 in SSc. Serum EGFL7 levels from 60 patients with SSc and 35 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were examined by colorimetric sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The expression of EGFL7 in forearm skin biopsies (n = 16 SSc, n = 10 controls), cultured dermal microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) (n = 3 SSc, n = 3 controls) and late-outgrowth peripheral blood endothelial progenitor cell (EPC)-derived endothelial cells (n = 15 SSc, n = 8 controls) was investigated by immunofluorescence and Western blotting. Serum EGFL7 levels were detectable in 68.6% of healthy controls and 45% of SSc cases (P < 0.05). Circulating levels of EGFL7 were significantly decreased in SSc patients compared with healthy controls (P = 0.01). Serum levels of EGFL7 were significantly lower in both limited cutaneous SSc and diffuse cutaneous SSc patients than in controls (P = 0.02 and P = 0.04, respectively). In SSc, decreased serum EGFL7 levels were significantly correlated with the severity of nailfold capillary abnormalities. Patients with the most severe capillary changes and digital ulcers had serum EGFL7 levels significantly lower than healthy controls, while the EGFL7 levels did not differ significantly between controls and SSc patients with less capillary damage and lack of digital ulcers. Endothelial EGFL7 expression was strongly downregulated or even almost completely undetectable in SSc-affected dermis compared with controls (P < 0.001). In cultured SSc dermal MVECs and late-outgrowth peripheral blood EPC-derived endothelial cells, EGFL7 was significantly downregulated compared with cells obtained from healthy subjects (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively). Our findings suggest that the loss of EGFL7 expression in endothelial cells and their progenitors might play a role in the development and progression of peripheral microvascular damage and the defective vascular repair process characteristic of SSc.
    Arthritis research & therapy 10/2013; 15(5):R165. DOI:10.1186/ar4349 · 4.12 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the rheumatic diseases 04/2013; 72(8). DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-203183 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the rheumatic diseases 02/2013; 72(6). DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202846 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by early perivascular inflammation, microvascular endothelial cell (MVEC) activation/damage, and defective angiogenesis. Junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs) regulate leukocyte recruitment to sites of inflammation and ischemia-reperfusion injury, vascular permeability, and angiogenesis. This study was undertaken to investigate the possible role of JAMs in SSc pathogenesis. Methods JAM-A and JAM-C expression levels in skin biopsy samples from 25 SSc patients and 15 healthy subjects were investigated by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Subcellular localization of JAMs in cultured healthy dermal MVECs and SSc MVECs was assessed by confocal microscopy. Serum levels of soluble JAM-A (sJAM-A) and sJAM-C in 64 SSc patients and 32 healthy subjects were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results In control skin, constitutive JAM-A expression was observed in MVECs and fibroblasts. In early-stage SSc skin, JAM-A expression was strongly increased in MVECs, fibroblasts, and perivascular inflammatory cells. In late-stage SSc, JAM-A expression was decreased compared with controls. JAM-C was weakly expressed in control and late-stage SSc skin, while it was strongly expressed in MVECs, fibroblasts, and inflammatory cells in early-stage SSc. Surface expression of JAM-A was higher in early-stage SSc MVECs and increased in healthy MVECs stimulated with early-stage SSc sera. JAM-C was cytoplasmic in resting healthy MVECs, while it was recruited to the cell surface upon challenge with early-stage SSc sera. Early-stage SSc MVECs exhibited constitutive surface JAM-C expression. In SSc, increased levels of sJAM-A and sJAM-C correlated with early disease and measures of vascular damage. Conclusion Our findings indicate that JAMs may participate in MVEC activation, inflammatory processes, and impaired angiogenesis in different stages of SSc.
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    ABSTRACT: Hemarthrosis triggers hemophilic arthropathy, involving the target joints. The histopathogenesis of blood-induced joint damage remains unclear. The triad of receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (RANK), RANK ligand (RANKL), and osteoprotegerin (OPG; RANK-RANKL-OPG) controls bone turnover. Our aim was to evaluate RANK-RANKL-OPG expression in the synovium of hemophilic patients with severe arthropathy. Synovial biopsies were obtained from 18 patients with hemophilic arthropathy and 16 with osteoarthritis (OA) who were undergoing total knee replacement and synovectomy. The severity of hemophilic arthropathy was evaluated according to ultrasonography score, the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) orthopedic joint scale, and the radiographic Pettersson score. RANK-RANKL-OPG expression was examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Serum levels of soluble RANKL (sRANKL) and OPG from an extended group of 67 patients with hemophilic arthropathy and 30 healthy controls were measured by ELISA. The mean ultrasonography, WFH orthopedic joint scale, and Pettersson scores in patients with hemophilic arthropathy indicated severe arthropathy. A decreased expression of OPG was found in hemophilic arthropathy synovium compared with patients with OA. RANK and RANKL immunopositivity was strong in the lining and sublining layers in hemophilic arthropathy synovial tissue. Western blotting confirmed the immunohistological findings. Serum levels of sRANKL and OPG in patients with hemophilia were lower than in healthy controls. In hemophilic arthropathy, the synovium highly expressed RANK and RANKL, whereas OPG immunopositivity decreased, suggesting an osteoclastic activation. Low tissue expression of OPG paralleled the serum levels of this protein and the severity of hemophilic arthropathy assessed by ultrasonography, Pettersson, and WFH orthopedic joint scale scores.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 07/2012; 39(8):1678-86. DOI:10.3899/jrheum.120370 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Caveolin-1 (CAV1) is an inhibitor of tissue fibrosis and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc). The aim of the study was to analyse the possible association of CAV1 gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) with SSc. A total population of 3974 individuals (1355 SSc patients, 2619 controls) was studied. Genotype data for 23 SNP spanning the CAV1-CAV2 gene locus were obtained from a genome-wide scan conducted in a French population (564 SSc patients, 1776 controls). Three CAV1 SNP (rs926198, rs959173, rs9920) displaying the most significant associations with SSc and/or clinical phenotypes were then genotyped in an Italian population (791 SSc patients, 843 controls). CAV1 protein expression in skin biopsies was investigated by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. In the French population, the CAV1 rs959173 C minor allele showed a significant protective association with susceptibility to SSc (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.86, p(adjusted)=0.009), and with the subset of patients with limited cutaneous SSc (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.89, p(adjusted)=0.018). The association was replicated in the Italian population and strengthened in the combined populations through Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel meta-analysis (SSc: pooled OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.92, p=0.0018; limited cutaneous SSc: pooled OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.93, p=0.0053). Genotype/protein expression correlations revealed that the rs959173 C protective allele was associated with increased CAV1 protein expression. These results add CAV1 to the list of SSc susceptibility genes and provide further evidence for the contribution of this pathway in the fibrotic process that characterises SSc pathogenesis.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 03/2012; 71(6):1034-41. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200986 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Arthritis Research & Therapy 02/2012; 14(1). DOI:10.1186/ar3566 · 4.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine serum concentrations and tissue expression of matrix metalloproteinase-12 (MMP-12) and their correlation with clinical features in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Serum MMP-12 levels from 72 patients with SSc and 42 healthy volunteers were examined by ELISA. Immunohistochemical expression of MMP-12 was analysed in skin biopsies from 20 patients with SSc and 13 healthy subjects and lung biopsies from three patients with SSc-related interstitial lung disease (ILD) and five controls. Circulating levels of MMP-12 were significantly increased in patients with SSc compared with healthy controls. Serum MMP-12 levels were significantly higher in both patients with limited cutaneous SSc and those with diffuse cutaneous SSc than in healthy controls, and correlated positively with the extent of skin involvement. MMP-12 levels were raised in SSc patients with ILD compared with patients without ILD, and correlated with severity of lung restriction. Increased serum levels of MMP-12 were also associated with the presence of digital ulcers and severity of nailfold capillary abnormalities. In contrast to almost undetectable MMP-12 expression in healthy skin, MMP-12 was strongly expressed in keratinocytes, dermal endothelial cells, fibroblasts/myofibroblasts and inflammatory cells in the skin of patients with SSc. Affected lung tissue from patients with SSc-related ILD showed strong MMP-12 expression in capillary vessels, inflammatory cells, alveolar macrophages and fibroblasts in the thickened alveolar septa, while faint expression was observed in normal lung tissue. MMP-12 levels are increased in patients with SSc and are associated with severity of skin and pulmonary fibrosis and peripheral vascular damage.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2012; 71(6):1064-72. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200837 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To characterise bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) for the expression of factors implicated in MSC recruitment at sites of injury, angiogenesis and fibrosis. The study also analysed whether the production/release of bioactive mediators by MSCs were affected by stimulation with cytokines found upregulated in SSc serum and tissues, and whether MSCs could modulate dermal microvascular endothelial cell (MVEC) angiogenesis. MSCs obtained from five patients with early severe diffuse SSc (SSc-MSCs) and five healthy donors (H-MSCs) were stimulated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) or stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1). Transcript and protein levels of SDF-1 and its receptor CXCR4, VEGF, TGFβ(1) and receptors TβRI and TβRII were evaluated by quantitative real-time PCR, western blotting and confocal microscopy. VEGF, SDF-1 and TGFβ(1) secretion in culture supernatant was measured by ELISA. MVEC capillary morphogenesis was performed on Matrigel with the addition of MSC-conditioned medium. In SSc-MSCs the basal expression of proangiogenic SDF-1/CXCR4 and VEGF was significantly increased compared with H-MSCs. SSc-MSCs constitutively released higher levels of SDF-1 and VEGF. SDF-1/CXCR4 were upregulated after VEGF stimulation and CXCR4 redistributed from the cytoplasm to the cell surface. VEGF was increased by SDF-1 challenge. VEGF, TGFβ and SDF-1 stimulation upregulated TGFβ(1), TβRI and TβRII in SSc-MSCs. TβRII redistributed from the cytoplasm to focal adhesion contacts. SSc-MSC-conditioned medium showed a greater proangiogenic effect on MVECs than H-MSCs. Experiments with blocking antibodies showed that MSC-derived cytokines were responsible for this potent proangiogenic effect. SSc-MSCs constitutively overexpress and release bioactive mediators/proangiogenic factors and potentiate dermal MVEC angiogenesis.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 08/2011; 70(11):2011-21. DOI:10.1136/ard.2011.150607 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by widespread microangiopathy, fibrosis, and autoimmunity. Despite the lack of angiogenesis, the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF) was shown to be upregulated in SSc skin and circulation; however, previous studies did not distinguish between proangiogenic VEGF(165) and antiangiogenic VEGF(165)b isoforms, which are generated by alternative splicing in the terminal exon of VEGF pre-RNA. We investigated whether VEGF isoform expression could be altered in skin and circulation of patients with SSc. Here, we show that the endogenous antiangiogenic VEGF(165)b splice variant is selectively overexpressed at both the mRNA and protein levels in SSc skin. Elevated VEGF(165)b expression correlated with increased expression of profibrotic transforming growth factor-β1 and serine/arginine protein 55 splicing factor in keratinocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and perivascular inflammatory cells. Circulating levels of VEGF(165)b were significantly higher in patients with SSc than in control subjects. Microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) isolated from SSc skin expressed and released higher levels of VEGF(165)b than healthy MVECs. Transforming growth factor-β1 upregulated the expression of VEGF(165)b and serine/arginine protein 55 in both SSc and healthy MVECs. In SSc MVECs, VEGF receptor-2 was overexpressed, but its phosphorylation was impaired. Recombinant VEGF(165)b and SSc-MVEC-conditioned medium inhibited VEGF(165)-mediated VEGF receptor-2 phosphorylation and capillary morphogenesis in healthy MVECs. The addition of anti-VEGF(165)b blocking antibodies abrogated the antiangiogenic effect of SSc-MVEC-conditioned medium. Capillary morphogenesis was severely impaired in SSc MVECs and could be ameliorated by treatment with recombinant VEGF(165) and anti-VEGF(165)b blocking antibodies. In SSc, a switch from proangiogenic to antiangiogenic VEGF isoforms may have a crucial role in the insufficient angiogenic response to chronic ischemia.
    Circulation Research 06/2011; 109(3):e14-26. DOI:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.242057 · 11.09 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the rheumatic diseases 05/2011; 70(10):1876-8. DOI:10.1136/ard.2010.148247 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Junctional adhesion molecule (JAM)-A and JAM-C regulate leucocyte-endothelial cell (EC) interactions. JAMs also interact at inter-EC junctions regulating vascular permeability and are implicated in pathophysiological processes involving leucocyte transmigration, tight junction assembly and angiogenesis. SSc is characterised by early perivascular inflammatory infiltrates, EC damage and defective angiogenesis. We investigated the expression of JAMs in SSc skin and dermal microvascular ECs (MVECs) challenged with SSc sera.Methods Skin biopsies were obtained from the involved skin of 16 SSc patients (10 early, 6 late phase) and from 10 controls. Skin sections were stained with primary antibodies (Abs) anti-human JAM-A or JAM-C followed by fluorochrome-conjugated secondary Abs. The lymphatic EC specific marker podoplanin (D2-40) was used to differentiate blood (D2-40–) and lymphatic (D2-40+) vessels. Human dermal MVECs were stimulated with VEGF or early SSc (n=5) and control (n=4) sera for 1, 6, 24 h. MVECs were double-immunolabeled for JAM-C and the human tight junction protein zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), or for JAM-A and the pro-angiogenic αVβ3 integrin. Immunostained tissue sections and cells were examined by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Densitometric analysis of staining intensity was performed using ImageJ software.ResultsIn control skin, constitutive expression of JAM-A was observed in blood and lymphatic ECs, fibroblasts and keratinocytes. In early SSc skin, JAM-A expression was increased in blood and lymphatic vessels and fibroblasts. Moreover, perivascular inflammatory cells showed strong JAM-A positivity. In late SSc, JAM-A expression was weaker than in controls. JAM-C was weakly expressed in controls. In early SSc, JAM-C expression was markedly observed in blood and lymphatic ECs, fibroblasts, and inflammatory cells. Instead, in late SSc JAM-C expression was similar to controls. Stimulation of MVECs with early SSc sera increased the cell surface expression of JAM-A and αVβ3 integrin. JAM-C expression was found in MVEC cytoplasm at basal conditions and under stimulation with control sera. Upon early SSc sera challenging, JAM-C was rapidly recruited to tight junctions where it colocalised with ZO-1, with the maximun effect after 1 h. Similar effects were observed after 1 h VEGF stimulation.ConclusionsJAMs are differentially expressed in early and late SSc skin. Early SSc sera affect the expression and subcellular localisation of JAMs in dermal MVECs. In SSc, JAMs may participate in early inflammatory process, EC activation and impaired angiogenesis.
    Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 02/2011; 70(2). DOI:10.1136/ard.2010.149104.9 · 9.27 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

328 Citations
213.57 Total Impact Points


  • 2008–2014
    • University of Florence
      • • Dipartimento di Scienze della Salute
      • • Dipartimento di Chirurgia e Medicina Traslazionale (DCMT)
      Florens, Tuscany, Italy
  • 2013
    • Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Careggi
      • Department of Rheumatology
      Firenzuola, Tuscany, Italy