Giancarlo Majori

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (17)44.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Increased numbers of T regulatory cells (Tregs), key mediators of immune homeostasis, were reported in human and murine malaria and it is current opinion that these cells play a role in balancing protective immunity and pathogenesis during infection. However, the mechanisms governing their expansion during malaria infection are not completely defined. In this article we show that soluble extracts of Plasmodium falciparum (PfSEs), but not equivalent preparation of uninfected erythrocytes, induce the differentiation of polyclonally activated CD4(+) cells in Tregs endowed with strong suppressive activity. PfSEs activate latent TGFβ bound on the membrane of Treg cells, thus allowing the cytokine interaction with TGFβ receptor, and inducing Foxp3 gene expression and TGFβ production. The activation of membrane-bound latent TGFβ by PfSEs is significantly reduced by a broad-spectrum metalloproteinases inhibitor with Zn(++) -chelating activity, and completely inhibited by the combined action of such inhibitor and antibodies to a P. falciparum thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (PfTRAP). We conclude that Pf-Zn(++) -dependent proteinases and, to a lesser extent, PfTRAP molecules are involved in the activation of latent TGFβ bound on the membrane of activated Treg cells and suggest that, in malaria infection, this mechanism could contribute to the expansion of Tregs with different antigen specificity.
    Cellular Microbiology 06/2011; 13(9):1328-38. · 4.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In 2004, Sudan adopted artesunate + sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) combination as the first-line drug, in response to the high level of falciparum resistance to antimalarials. In 2007, a molecular study on antimalarial resistance linked genes, pfcrt, pfmdr1, pfdhfr, pfdhps, and pfATPase6, was conducted on 198 isolates from central and eastern Sudan. We observed a high frequency of point mutations at almost all loci analyzed, mainly of pfcrt 76T (72.7%), pfdhfr 51I (75.3%), and pfdhfr 108N (72.7%) alleles. The MARK III in vitro test for chloroquine sensitivity in 45 P. falciparum isolates showed that 37.8% of the isolates were low resistant and 6.7% were fully resistant. This study represents the most recent molecular investigation on antimalarial resistance in this area after the adoption of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), and underlines the importance of the analysis of SP resistance evolution to monitor the efficacy of ACT therapy in endemic areas.
    The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 08/2010; 83(2):250-7. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Imported malaria has been an increasing problem in Italy in the last three decades of the 1900s, representing the main risk for travelers visiting tropical and sub-tropical countries where malaria is endemic. Even though the total number of imported cases has been declining since 2000, malaria still represents the most frequent notifiable imported disease in Italy. The present study analyzes all the malaria cases reported in Italy in 2000-2006 in order to assess the trend of incidence over the time and reviewing the risk factors for travelers visiting malaria endemic countries. All 2000-2006 case report forms were analyzed. The incidence of malaria in Italian travelers was calculated by continent and by countries most visited, using data provided by the Ministry of Transportation. Out of the 5219 malaria cases reported and confirmed in the study period five were autochthonous and 5214 imported, 1518 of which occurred in Italian citizen and 3696 in foreigners. Between 2000 and 2006 imported malaria cases fell from 977 to 630 respectively, with a total reduction of about 36%. Most of the cases were contracted in Africa (93%) and Plasmodium falciparum was the etiological agent in 83% of the cases, with an annual average fatality rate of about 0.5%. The average of the crude incidence rate (CIR) among Italians was calculated by continent for both global cases (gCIR) and for P. falciparum cases (pfCIR) resulting of 1.2/1000 and 0.9 for Africa, 0.08/1000 and 0.02 for Asia, 0.03/1000 and 0.003 for Central and South America, respectively. The gCIR by continent slightly but decreased constantly over the study period. The different factors which may influence the risk of contracting malaria for travelers visiting endemic countries and the strategy to reduce completely the number of fatal cases were considered and discussed.
    Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease 05/2010; 8(3):144-54. · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the extent of drug resistance in Uige through molecular genetic analysis and to test whether the dhfr triple mutant alleles present in Angola are of southeast Asian origin. Seventy-one samples of blood from children admitted to the Pediatric Emergency Unit of Uige Provincial Hospital in 2004 were screened for resistance mutations at pfcrt, pfmdr1, pfdhfr, pfdhps and pfATPase6. Mutations in pfcrt (codon76), pfmdr1 (codon86), pfdhfr (codons 51, 59, 108) and pfdhps (codons 436, 437) were common. Among the 66 isolates for which we were able to determine complete genetic information 13.7% carried all seven of these mutations. Flanking microsatellite analysis revealed the triple mutant pfdhfr was derived from the southeast Asian lineage, while the N51I+S108N double mutant pfdhfr alleles are a local origin. pfATPase6 mutations were rare and S769N was not found. The parasite population of Uige Angola has high frequency mutations in pfcrt, dhfr and dhps associated with resistance to chloroquine and sulphadoxine pyrimethamine, reflecting past reliance on these two drugs which were the mainstay of treatment until recently. Our findings show that drug resistance in Uige has occurred through a combination of local drug pressure and the regional and international dispersal of resistance mutant alleles.
    Tropical Medicine & International Health 09/2009; 14(10):1251-7. · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A variegate group of metallodrugs was evaluated in vitro for antimalarial activity through the pLDH test. The panel comprised one mononuclear gold(III) complex, (Aubipy), three dinuclear gold(III) compounds (Auoxo4, Auoxo5 and Auoxo6), three ruthenium(III) complexes (NAMI A, PMRU20, PMRU27), one ruthenium(II) complex (PMRU52), one bismuth(III) compound (Bismuth citrate), antimony trichloride (SbCl(3)) and arsenic trioxide (As(2)O(3)). This panel, although relatively small, was built up in such a way to include a variety of metal centers, structural motifs and metal coordination environments. In general, the tested compounds turned out to contrast effectively Plasmodium falciparum growth in vitro. In two cases, i.e. NAMI A and antimony trichloride, IC(50) values in the high nanomolar range were measured. Notably, the antiplasmodial effects appear not to be correlated to in vitro anticancer properties. The mechanistic and pharmacological implications of the obtained results are discussed.
    Journal of inorganic biochemistry 11/2008; 103(2):310-2. · 3.25 Impact Factor
  • Parasitology International 07/2008; 57(2):233-5. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The clinically established gold-based antiarthritic drug auranofin (AF) manifests a pronounced reactivity toward thiol and selenol groups of proteins. In particular, AF behaves as a potent inhibitor of mammalian thioredoxin reductases causing severe intracellular oxidative stress. Given the high sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum to oxidative stress, we thought that auranofin might act as an effective antimalarial agent. Thus, we report here new experimental results showing that auranofin and a few related gold complexes strongly inhibit P. falciparum growth in vitro. The observed antiplasmodial effects probably arise from direct inhibition of P. falciparum thioredoxin reductase. The above findings and the safe toxicity profile of auranofin warrant rapid evaluation of AF for malaria treatment in animal models.
    FEBS Letters 04/2008; 582(6):844-7. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We show here that a crude extract of green tea as well as two of its main constituents, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), strongly inhibit Plasmodium falciparum growth in vitro. Both these catechins are found to potentiate the antimalarial effects of artemisinin without interfering with the folate pathway. The importance of these findings and their mechanistic implications are discussed in view of future therapeutic strategies.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 03/2007; 353(1):177-81. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development in Plasmodium falciparum of the resistance to chloroquine (CQ) constitutes a public health priority, due to its direct influence in childhood mortality. The molecular basis for CQ resistance (CQR) is still unclear but, recently, a new relevant gene, named pfcrt, with several point mutations was identified in P. falciparum. Two mutations, K76T and A220S, have been considered crucial for CQR in further studies, making the pfcrt a good candidate as determinant for CQR in P. falciparum. To contribute to this topic, we have undertaken a molecular screening on 164 P. falciparum isolates from Africa: 120 isolates were Italian imported malaria cases, 27 and 17 isolates were from a school-children survey from Congo and Tanzania, respectively. In vitro tests (pLDH and WHO-Mark III tests) for CQ sensitivity have been also carried out on 28 plasmodial isolates and results compared to those obtained by molecular analysis in the same isolates. The SVIET pfcrt haplotype has been identified in the samples from Congo, and this is the first time that this haplotype is detected in Africa. Our results give further evidence to the reliability of the 76T (and the linked 74I-75E) pfcrt point mutation as molecular marker for CQR.
    Infection Genetics and Evolution 08/2006; 6(4):262-8. · 2.77 Impact Factor
  • Michela Menegon, Giancarlo Majori, Carlo Severini
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    ABSTRACT: Dihydropteroate synthase gene of Plasmodium vivax was recently identified. In the present study, the sequences of the dyhydropteroate synthase gene of 68 P. vivax isolates from various geographic areas were compared. Sequencing revealed limited polymorphism at codons 383 and 553 in all analyzed samples. Interstrain analysis showed several genotypic variations in the tandem repeats domain which produce length polymorphism between different parasite isolates.
    Acta Tropica 06/2006; 98(2):196-9. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum drug-resistance, especially chloroquine resistance, represents one of the main obstacles to the control of malaria. Several studies have shown that in P. falciparum the mechanism of chloroquine resistance is linked to specific point mutations in the pfcrt gene of the parasite. In the present study we have analyzed 120 Italian imported malaria cases to evaluate the prevalence of 76T and 220S mutantions in the pfcrt gene. Moreover, the correlation between the presence of pfcrt point mutations and in vitro chloroquine resistance has been evaluated on 25 plasmodial isolates. The results showed a high prevalence of the pfcrt point mutations in isolates analyzed and a significant association between point mutations and in vitro chloroquine resistance. Molecular screening on imported malaria cases can be a useful tool to be employed in surveillance activity and also in monitoring the development and spread of drug resistance in endemic areas.
    Annali dell'Istituto superiore di sanita 02/2006; 42(2):203-10. · 0.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A case of quinine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria, followed by a postmalaria neurological syndrome and a recurrence episode, is described. Genetic characterization of the P. falciparum isolate obtained by analysis of msp1 and msp2 amplicons revealed the coexistence of two genotypes causing the first malaria episode and the presence of a unique isolate responsible for the recurrence.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 12/2004; 42(11):5424-6. · 4.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmodium vivax, although causing a less serious disease than Plasmodium falciparum, is the most widespread of the four human malarial species. Further to the recent recrudescence of P. vivax cases in the Newly Independent States (NIS) of central Asia, a survey on the genetic diversity and dissemination in Azerbaijan was undertaken. Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of Asia and, as such, could see a rise in the number of cases, although an effective malaria control programme has been established in the country. Thirty-six P. vivax isolates from Central Azerbaijan were characterized by analysing the genetic polymorphism of the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) and the merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) genes, using PCR amplifications and amplicons sequencing. Analysis of CSP sequences showed that all the processed isolates belong to the VK 210 type, with variations in the alternation of alanine residue (A) or aspartic acid residue (D) in the repeat motif GDRA(A/D)GQPA along the sequence. As far as MSP-1 genotyping is concerned, it was found that the majority of isolates analysed belong to Belem and Sal I types. Five recombinant isolates were also identified. Combined analysis with the two genetic markers allowed the identification of 19 plasmodial sub-types. The results obtained in the present study indicate that there are several P. vivax clones circulating in Azerbaijan and, consequently, a careful malaria surveillance could be of paramount importance to identify, at early stage, the occurrence of possible P. vivax malaria outbreaks.
    Malaria Journal 11/2004; 3:40. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmodium vivax malaria was eradicated from Uzbekistan in 1961. Due to resurgence of the disease in neighbouring states and massive population migration, there has been an increase of P. vivax malaria, imported from Tajikistan, resulting in a number of indigenous cases being identified in areas bordering that country. A molecular study using the merozoite surface protein 1 (msp-1) gene as a marker was performed on 24 P. vivax genomic isolates from 12 indigenous and 10 imported malaria cases that occurred in the Surkhandarya region during the summer of 2002. Results have shown a significant difference in the frequency of msp-1 types between indigenous and imported isolates, the latter showing greater genetic heterogeneity. An entomological investigation in the area suggested that three Anopheles species, namely A. superpictus, A. pulcherrimus and A. hyrcanus may have a potential role in the endemic transmission of P. vivax.
    Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 11/2004; 98(10):585-92. · 1.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We observed an unusual case of Plasmodium vivax malaria who presented with an initial relapse four years after the primary infection. This occurred in Cameroon, where the patient, a 56-year-old priest, acquired a mild form of malaria and was treated with only chloroquine. Since he returned to Italy, he had not experienced any malaria-like symptoms, had not visited any other areas endemic for malaria, and had not received a blood transfusion. Blood smear microscopy confirmed the presence of Plasmodium spp. parasites, but unclear morphologic characteristics did not allow discrimination between P. vivax and P. ovale. A nested polymerase chain reaction-based molecular analysis identified P. vivax as the plasmodial species responsible. This case emphasizes the importance of taking into account the possibility of a very late initial relapse of P. vivax malaria and the relevant issues in terms of infection control.
    The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 03/2003; 68(2):159-60. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria due to Plasmodium vivax is globally widespread and is associated with substantial morbidity. The parasite was previously prevalent in temperate areas from which it has been eradicated, however there is a risk of re-introduction because of increased international travel and migration. Following the occurrence of an autochthonous case of P. vivax malaria in Italy after decades of malaria eradication, we applied a molecular approach to compare parasites involved in the introduced case and to determine whether a highly polymorphic gene marker could be useful to tag a P. vivax isolate geographically. To this end, the sequence encompassing the interspecies conserved blocks 5 and 6 of the gene encoding for merozoite surface protein 1 (msp-1) was determined in 16 P. vivax isolates from different regions, and analysed along with 24 pvmsp-1 sequences downloaded from published data. Results have shown that: (i). parasites from the introduced case and the putative source of infection identified following epidemiological investigation, although very similar, differed in three nucleotide substitutions, of which one non synonymous; ii). some geographical isolates looked tightly clustered (e.g. Korean and Punjab isolates), but others were less so.
    Acta Tropica 12/2002; 84(2):151-7. · 2.79 Impact Factor
  • Roberto Romi, Daniela Boccolini, Giancarlo Majori

Publication Stats

218 Citations
44.50 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2011
    • Istituto Superiore di Sanità
      • • Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immune-mediated Diseases
      • • Vector-Borne Disease and International Health Unit
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2004
    • Institute of Research for Development
      Marsiglia, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
    • Istituto Nazionale per le Malattie Infettive "L.Spallanzani"
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2003
    • Second University of Naples
      • Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale
      Napoli, Campania, Italy