Concetta Fabiani

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (10)31.95 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To examine cross-reactivity between hemagglutinin (HA) derived from A/California/7/09 (CA/09) virus and that derived from representative Eurasian "avian-like" (EA) H1N1 swine viruses isolated in Italy between 1999 and 2008 during virological surveillance in pigs. Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the HA gene of CA/09 virus (MVA-HA-CA/09) was used as a vaccine to investigate cross-protective immunity against H1N1 swine viruses in mice. Two classical swine H1N1 (CS) viruses and four representative EA-like H1N1 swine viruses previously isolated during outbreaks of respiratory disease in pigs on farms in Northern Italy were used in this study. Female C57BL/6 mice were vaccinated with MVA/HA/CA/09 and then challenged intranasally with H1N1 swine viruses. Cross-reactive antibody responses were determined by hemagglutination- inhibition (HI) and virus microneutralizing (MN) assays of sera from MVA-vaccinated mice. The extent of protective immunity against infection with H1N1 swine viruses was determined by measuring lung viral load on days 2 and 4 post-challenge. Systemic immunization of mice with CA/09-derived HA, vectored by MVA, elicited cross-protective immunity against recent EA-like swine viruses. This immune protection was related to the levels of cross-reactive HI antibodies in the sera of the immunized mice and was dependent on the similarity of the antigenic site Sa of H1 HAs. Our findings suggest that the herd immunity elicited in humans by the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus could limit the transmission of recent EA-like swine HA genes into the influenza A virus gene pool in humans.
    Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 12/2013; · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Antiviral monitoring of influenza viruses circulating in Italy has been carried out since 2007 by the National Influenza Centre (NIC), using both phenotypic and sequence-based assays. Here, we report results of the susceptibility evaluation to neuraminidase (NA) inhibitors (NAIs, zanamivir and oseltamivir) and adamantanes of nearly 300 influenza type A and B seasonal viruses isolated in Italy during six recent seasons, together with over 30 pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus strains. The present work is the first such study conducted in Italy, aimed to develop national data on antiviral drug profile and to establish a nationwide surveillance programme on antiviral susceptibility. Sequencing of the NA gene was undertaken either to confirm the phenotypic findings or to identify any NA change, in potentially resistant viruses (outliers), which might be associated with reduced susceptibility to NAIs. The 50% inhibitory concentration values (IC(50)s) showed slightly different sensitivities of the seasonal Italian isolates to the two NAI drugs, depending on the specific NA subtype. We found mean zanamivir IC(50)s of 0.74, 1.33 and 7 nM, and oseltamivir IC(50)s of 0.67, 2.34 and 30.1 nM for the N2, N1 and B NAs, respectively. The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 viruses showed IC(50)values overall comparable to the seasonal N1 viruses from previous years, showing mean zanamivir IC(50)s of 1.02 nM and mean oseltamivir IC(50)s of 2.82 nM. Oseltamivir resistance was found in a total of 19 seasonal N1viruses of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, and in three pandemic (H1N1) 2009 strains. A gradual increase of resistance to adamantanes was observed among the N2 viruses isolated in recent seasons; no resistant viruses were found among the seasonal N1 strains, whereas all the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 isolates analysed were resistant to the M2 blockers.
    Antiviral research 06/2011; 90(3):205-12. · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Influenza is one of the main plagues worldwide. The statistical likelihood of a new pandemic outbreak, together with the alarming emergence of influenza virus strains that are resistant to available antiviral medications, highlights the need for new antiviral drugs. Lactoferrin, a 80 kDa bi-globular iron-binding glycoprotein, is a pleiotropic factor with potent antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities. Although the antiviral effect of lactoferrin is one of its major biological functions, the mechanism of action is still under debate. In this research, we have analyzed the effect of bovine lactoferrin (bLf) on Influenza A virus infection in vitro. Our results showed that (i) Influenza virus infected cells died as a result of apoptosis, (ii) bLf treatment inhibited programmed cell death by interfering with function of caspase 3, a major virus-induced apoptosis effector, and (iii) bLf efficiently blocked nuclear export of viral ribonucleoproteins so preventing viral assembly. These results provide further insights on the antiviral activity of bLf and suggest novel strategies for treatment of Influenza virus infection.
    Biology of Metals 03/2010; 23(3):465-75. · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the antibody response against the three vaccine antigens and the epidemic A/H3N2 drift variant (A/California) and the prevention of laboratory diagnosed influenza infections in a group of elderly institutionalized people vaccinated with the 2004/2005 influenza vaccine. Antibody titres were measured by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) in sera collected before and 1 month after vaccination. Laboratory diagnosis was done examining throat swabs (RT-PCR or MDCK cell culture) or by serology (seroconversion comparing HI titres in sera collected 1 and 5 months after vaccination). Results obtained showed that influenza vaccination induced an adequate immune response against the three vaccine antigens and the epidemic A/H3N2 variant, however it was not capable of preventing an influenza outbreak due to the new A/H3N2 (A/California) variant.
    Vaccine 12/2006; 24(44-46):6615-9. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Limited information is available on the viral aetiology of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Southern European countries. Hereby we report the main findings of a survey conducted in the area of Rome during the 2004-2005 winter season.ILI cases were defined as individuals with fever >37.5 degrees C and at least one constitutional symptom and one respiratory symptom, recruited during the survey period. Influenza and other respiratory viruses were identified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on throat swabs. Basic individual information was collected through a standard form. Of 173 ILI cases enrolled, 74 tested positive for one virus, and two tested positive for two viruses. Overall, 33.5% of the cases were positive for influenza viruses, 5.2% for adenoviruses, 3.5% for parainfluenza viruses, 1.7% for coronaviruses, and 1.2% for the respiratory syncitial virus. The proportion of influenza virus detection was higher in the 'high influenza activity' period. The distribution of viral agents varied across age groups, influenza viruses being more likely to be detected in younger patients. Viral pathogens were identified in less than 50% of ILI cases occurred during a high activity influenza season. The detection of other than influenza viruses was sporadic, without evidence of large outbreaks due to specific agents.
    Euro surveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin 02/2006; 11(10):251-3. · 5.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the potential for avian-to-human transmission of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N1 and LPAI H7N3 viruses that were responsible for several outbreaks of influenza in poultry in Italy between 1999 and 2003. A serological survey of poultry workers was conducted by use of a combination of methods. Evidence of anti-H7 antibodies was observed in 3.8% of serum samples collected from poultry workers during the period in 2003 when LPAI H7N3 virus was circulating. These findings highlight the need for surveillance in people occupationally exposed to avian influenza viruses, so that they can be monitored for the risk of avian-to-human transmission during outbreaks of avian influenza caused by both LPAI and HPAI viruses.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 11/2005; 192(8):1318-22. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Throughout most of the last decade, B/Yamagata/16/88-lineage influenza viruses were predominant among the B isolates circulating worldwide, whereas B/Victoria/2/87-lineage viruses were isolated infrequently and restricted geographically to eastern Asia. During the 2001-02 influenza season, B/Victoria/2/87-lineage viruses re-emerged in North America and Europe and spread worldwide. Virological surveillance in Italy during that season showed wide circulation of influenza B viruses, of which most were antigenically related to the B/Sichuan/379/99 (Yamagata-lineage) vaccine strain, together with a smaller number of B viruses antigenically similar to B/HongKong/330/01, a recent B/Victoria/2/87-lineage antigenic variant. In the subsequent 2002-03 epidemic season, B viruses with a Victoria-lineage hemagglutinin (HA), more closely related to that of B/Shandong/7/97, were isolated exclusively. Similar strains have continued to predominate among the few B viruses isolated in Italy during last season (2003-04), although most influenza B viruses, isolated sporadically elsewhere in Europe, again belong to the Yamagata-lineage. In the present study, phylogenetic analyses of the HA and neuraminidase (NA) genes of representative B strains, isolated throughout Italy during 2001-04, showed that during the first influenza season the NA genes, as well as the HA genes, separated into the two distinct clades, the Yamagata- and Victoria-lineages, and showed no evidence of genetic reassortment. On the contrary, all the B viruses isolated in the 2002-03 and most of those isolated in the 2003-04 epidemic season were "Victoria HA-Yamagata NA" reassortants similar to those isolated in other parts of the world, showing that these reassortants became established in the human population. The frequency of reassortment between HA and NA of distinct lineages and sublineages highlights again the importance of detailed molecular analyses of both surface glycoproteins in understanding the evolution of influenza B viruses.
    Journal of Medical Virology 01/2005; 74(4):629-40. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two major lineages of influenza B viruses have circulated in humans, the B/Yamagata/16/88 (Yam88)-lineage and the B/Victoria/2/87 (Vic87)-lineage. Throughout most of the last decade, Yam88-lineage viruses predominated. During the 2001–2002 influenza season, however, Vic87-lineage viruses emerged outside Asia and spread worldwide. Virological surveillance in Italy during this season highlighted a predominance of influenza B viruses, most of which were antigenically related to the B/Sichuan/379/99 vaccine strain, belonging to the Yam88-lineage, together with a smaller number of B viruses antigenically similar to a recent Vic87-lineage variant B/Hong Kong/330/01. Vic87-lineage viruses were exclusively isolated in the subsequent 2002–2003 epidemic season. Phylogenetic analyses of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes of representative Italian B isolates from the 2001–2002 and 2002–2003 seasons showed that, during the first season, the NA as well as the HA genes separated into two distinct clades, the Yam88- and the Vic87-lineages and showed no evidence of reassortment. On the contrary, all the B viruses isolated in the 2002–2003 epidemic season were “Vic87 HA–Yam88 NA” reassortants similar to those isolated in other parts of the world, showing that these reassortants became well-established in the human population.
    International Congress Series 01/2004; 1263:708-713.
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    ABSTRACT: In Italy, multiple H3N2 influenza viruses were isolated from chickens with mild respiratory disease and were shown to replicate in the respiratory tracts of experimentally infected chickens; this finding is the first to show that H3N2 influenza viruses can replicate and cause disease in chickens. H3N2 influenza viruses in pigs on nearby farms seemed a likely source of the virus; however, antigenic and molecular analyses revealed that the gene segments of the viruses in chickens were mainly of Eurasian avian origin and were distinguishable from those isolated from pigs and wild aquatic birds in Italy. Thus, several different H3 influenza viruses were circulating in Italy, but we failed to identify the source of the chicken H3N2 influenza viruses that have disappeared subsequently from Italian poultry. Until recently, the transmission of influenza viruses (other than the H5 and H7 subtypes) from their reservoir in aquatic birds to chickens was rarely detected and highly pathogenic and non-pathogenic viruses were considered to be restricted to poultry species. However, the recent reports of the transmission of H9N2 and H5N1 influenza viruses to chickens in Hong Kong and, subsequently, to humans and our findings of the transmission of H3N2 influenza viruses to domestic chickens in Italy suggest an increased role for chickens as an intermediate host in the ecology of influenza.
    Journal of General Virology 03/2002; 83(Pt 2):413-20. · 3.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Swine influenza viruses possessing avian genes were first detected in Europe in 1979 (Scholtissek et al., 1983, Virology, 129, 521-523) and continue to circulate in pigs in that region of the world. To characterize the molecular epidemiology of swine influenza viruses currently circulating in Europe, we used dot-blot hybridization and sequence analysis to determine the origin of the genes encoding the nonsurface proteins ("internal" genes) of 10 H1N1 and 11 H3N2 swine influenza viruses isolated in Italy between 1992 and 1995. All of the 126 genes examined were of avian origin; thus the currently circulating H3N2 strains which possess A/Port Chalmers/1/73-like surface glycoproteins appear to be descendants of the reassortant human-avian viruses that emerged between 1983 and 1985 in Italy. Sequence analysis of matrix (M), nonstructural, and nucleoprotein genes, as well as phylogenetic analysis of M gene showed that the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses from the pigs were closely related to recent isolates of the avian-like swine H1N1 influenza strain currently circulating in northern Europe and were distinguishable from the genes of viruses isolated from European swine in 1979. To evaluate the frequency of transmission of swine H1N1 and H3N2 viruses to man, we tested 123 human sera for hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies against avian and mammalian H1N1 and H3N2 virus strains. Our findings indicate that swine influenza viruses possessing A/Port Chalmers/1/73-like hemagglutinin may have transmitted to approximately 20% of young persons under 20 years of age who had contact with pigs. Thus, H3N2 swine viruses, possibly possessing avian-derived internal genes, may be entering humans more often than was previously thought. We strongly recommend that pigs be regularly monitored as a potential early warning system for detection of future pandemic strains.
    Virology 07/1997; 232(2):310-8. · 3.37 Impact Factor