Simona Dinicola

Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (25)74.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background/Aim: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in cancer biology. Expression of MMP7 (matrilysin) in colorectal cancer is associated with metastatic disease even though it is expressed in most tumour states. In the present study, our purpose was to analyze MMP7 in bowel and lymph nodes of different tumour stages and to evaluate its expression as a cancer biomarker. 28 patients surgically-treated for benign and malignant colorectal tumours were recruited and analyzed for MMP7 in tumoural tissue, lymph nodes and serum by histology, immunohistochemistry, ELISA and western blotting. Immunohistochemistry showed prevalent expression of MMP7 in advanced cancer. A significant increase (p<0.001) was evident in serum of stage III/IV cancers compared to both adenomas and non-metastatic disease. MMP7 was increased in cancer tissues with prevalence in stage I/II. Lymph nodes presented a significant increase of MMP7 (p<0.05 adenoma vs. stage I/II and p<0.001 vs. stage III/IV). MMP7 increases with dysplasia and cancer disease stage in tumour tissue as well as in the regional lymph nodes. It may be used as a complement in investigating suspected locally advanced cancer.
    In vivo (Athens, Greece) 07/2014; 28(1):105-10. · 1.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Oral bioavailability is one of the most important properties in drug design and development. A poor oral bioavailability can result in low efficacy and unpredictable response to a drug. Several dosages of melatonin have been used for various investigations to clarify its bioavailability in humans. Aiming to search for a pharmaceutical form, which is better absorbed, the pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of the new manufactured melatonin soft gelatin (soft gel) capsule form has been evaluated and compared with the commercially available melatonin powder. Research design and methods: A total of 60 healthy volunteers received 1, 3 mg of melatonin powder and 1 mg of melatonin in soft gel capsules. PK profiles were obtained by analysis of melatonin plasma concentration, and the respective melatonin bioavailability was compared. Results: Melatonin soft gel capsule form showed similar PK parameters compared with the highest doses of melatonin in powder form, but its bioavailability was improved. Conclusions: Soft gel capsules improved the bioavailability of melatonin in humans even when administered dose was reduced. Considering the number of conditions in which melatonin supplementation is recommended, this evidence could support a broader use of melatonin in clinical practice.
    Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism &amp Toxicology 07/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting women and it is characterized by a combination of hyper-androgenism, chronic anovulation, and insulin resistance.Whilst a significant progress has recently been made in the diagnosis for PCOS, the optimal infertility treatment remains to be determined. Two inositol isomers, Myo-inositol (MI) and Dchiro-inositol (DCI) have been proven to be effective in PCOS treatment, by improving insulin resistance, serum androgen levels and many features of the metabolic syndrome. However, DCI alone, mostly when it is administered at high dosage, negatively affects oocyte quality, whereas the association MI/DCI, in a combination reproducing the plasma physiological ratio (40:1), represents a promising alternative in achieving better clinical results, by counteracting PCOS at both systemic and ovary level.
    The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 07/2014; · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Compelling evidence demonstrated that melatonin increases p53 activity in cancer cells. p53 undergoes acetylation to be stabilized and activated for driving cells destined for apoptosis/growth inhibition. Over-expression of p300 induces p53 acetylation, leading to cell growth arrest by increasing p21 expression. In turn, p53 activation is mainly regulated in the nucleus by MDM2. MDM2 also acts as E3 ubiquitin ligase, promoting the proteasome-dependent p53 degradation.MDM2 entry into the nucleus is finely tuned by two different modulations: the ribosomal protein L11, acts by sequestering MDM2 in the cytosol, whereas the PI3K-AkT-dependent MDM2 phosphorylation is mandatory for MDM2 translocation across the nuclear membrane. In addition, MDM2-dependent targeting of p53 is regulated in a non-linear fashion by MDM2/MDMX interplay. Melatonin induces both cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in MCF7 breast cancer cells. We previously reported that this effect is associated to reduced MDM2 levels and increased p53 activity. Herein, we demonstrated that melatonin drastically down-regulates MDM2 gene expression and inhibits MDM2 shuttling into the nucleus, given that melatonin increases L11 and inhibits Akt-PI3K-dependent MDM2 phosphorylation. Melatonin induces a 3-fold increase in both MDMX and p300 levels, decreasing simultaneously Sirt1, a specific inhibitor of p300 activity. Consequently, melatonin-treated cells display significantly higher values of both p53 and acetylated p53. Thus, a 15-fold increase in p21 levels was observed in melatonin-treated cancer cells. Our results provide evidence that melatonin enhances p53 acetylation by modulating the MDM2/MDMX/p300 pathway, disclosing new insights for understanding its anticancer effect. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Pineal Research 06/2014; · 7.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Morphological changes have been reported to occur in cells exposed to microgravity, even if quantitative (i.e., fractal) analysis has been never performed on cell shape. We investigated cell shape as well as cytoskeleton modifications induced by simulated microgravity on murine osteoblasts (MC3T3-E1) growing in vitro by means of fractal analysis. On average, after 48–72 h of exposition to microgravity, osteoblasts display significant changes in shape profile, recovering a more rounded phenotype characterized by larger surface area than controls. More specifically, microgravity enacted the emergence of two distinct morphological phenotypes, one of which characterized by an increase in membrane fractal values, surface area, and roundness. Moreover, osteoblasts exposed to microgravity undergo significant functional changes (inhibited growth proliferation, increased apoptosis, β1-integrin decrease, impaired Akt and Erk phosphorylation) that could likely concur in explaining the observed alteration in bone structure experienced by astronauts.
    Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze Fisiche e Naturali 01/2014; 25. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microgravity exerts dramatic effects on cell morphology and functions, by disrupting cytoskeleton and adhesion structures, as well as by interfering with biochemical pathways and gene expression. Impairment of cells behavior has both practical and theoretical significance, given that investigations of mechanisms involved in microgravity-mediated effects may shed light on how biophysical constraints cooperate in shaping complex living systems. By exposing breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells to simulated microgravity (~0.001 g), we observed the emergence of two morphological phenotypes, characterized by distinct membrane fractal values, surface area, and roundness. Moreover, the two phenotypes display different aggregation profiles and adherent behavior on the substrate. These morphological differences are mirrored by the concomitant dramatic functional changes in cell processes (proliferation and apoptosis) and signaling pathways (ERK, AKT, and Survivin). Furthermore, cytoskeleton undergoes a dramatic reorganization, eventually leading to a very different configuration between the two populations. These findings could be considered adaptive and reversible features, given that, by culturing microgravity-exposed cells into a normal gravity field, cells are enabled to recover their original phenotype. Overall these data outline the fundamental role gravity plays in shaping form and function in living systems.
    BioMed Research International 01/2014; 2014:652434. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Unsuccessful cytotoxic anticancer treatments may contribute to tumor morphologic instability and consequent tissue invasion, promoting the selection of a more malignant phenotype. Indeed, morphological changes have been demonstrated to be more pronounced in strongly vs. weakly metastatic cells. By means of normalized bending energy, we have previously quantitatively defined the link between cell shape modifications and the acquisition of a more malignant phenotype by 5-FU-resistant colon cancer cells (HCT-8FUres). Such changes were significantly correlated with an increase in motility speed. Herein, we propose a method to quantitatively analyze the shape of wild and chemoresistant HCT-8 migration front cells during wound healing assay. We evaluated the reliability of parameters (area/perimeter ratio [A/p], circularity, roundness, fractal dimension, and solidity) in describing the biological behavior of the two cell lines, enabling hence in distinguishing the chemoresistant line from the other one. We found solidity index the parameter that better described the difference between chemoresistant and wild cells. Moreover, solidity is able to capture the differences between chemoresistant and wild cells at each time point of the migration process. Indeed, motility speed was found to be inversely correlated with solidity, a quantitative index of cell deformability. Deformability is an outstanding hallmark of the process leading to metastatic spread; consequently, solidity may be considered a marker of acquired metastatic property.
    Cell adhesion & migration 10/2013; 7(5). · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cigarette smoking is implicated in the development of colon cancer. Furthermore, nicotine increases cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis through α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7-nAChR) activation in human colon carcinoma cells. An open issue is whether nicotine interfere with colorectal cancer pharmacological treatment, by inhibiting drug-mediated apoptosis. To assess this hypothesis, we evaluated nicotine effect on Caco-2 and HCT-8 colon cancer cells, treated with 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) and Camptothecin (CPT), chemotherapeutics commonly utilized as adjuvant treatment of colon cancer. Nicotine decreased anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects exerted by chemotherapeutics on both cell lines. These effects partially reverted by exposure to α-bungarotoxin (α-BTX), an inhibitor of α7-nAChR. Nicotine addition to Caco-2 and HCT-8, treated with 5-FU or CPT, decreased the cleavage of substrate of caspase 3 and 7, poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP). Moreover, P-ERK/ERK ratio was modified by nicotine addition to 5-FU and CPT treated cells in an opposite manner. However, when co-administrating PD98059, an ERK phosphorylation inhibitor, an increased apoptosis was observed. In Caco-2 and HCT-8 nicotine reverted 5-FU and CPT apoptotic effects through AKT phosphorylation, as demonstrated by apoptotic increase in presence of LY294002, an AKT phosphorylation inhibitor. Nicotine interfered with colorectal cancer pharmacological treatment in vitro by inhibiting apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic drugs. Nicotine anti-apoptotic effects were exerted through ERK and AKT pathway activation.
    Toxicology in Vitro 10/2013; · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND AIM: Breast cancer remains a leading cause of mortality among women. In metastasis, cascade migration of cancer cells and invasion of extracellular matrix (ECM) represent critical steps. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), as well as metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9, strongly contribute to ECM remodelling, thus becoming associated with tumour migration and invasion. In addition, the high expression of cytoskeletal (CSK) proteins, as fascin, has been correlated with clinically aggressive metastatic tumours, and CSK proteins are thought to affect the migration of cancer cells. Consumption of fruits and vegetables, characterized by high procyanidin content, has been associated to a reduced mortality for breast cancer. Therefore, we investigated the biological effect of grape seed extract (GSE) on the highly metastatic MDA-MB231 breast cancer cell line, focusing on studying GSE ability in inhibiting two main metastatic processes, i.e., cell migration and invasion. METHODS: After MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells stimulated with GSE migration and invasion were evaluated by means of trans-well assays and uPA as well as MMPs activity was detected by gelatin zymography. Fascin, β-catenin and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) expression were determined using western blot technique. β-Catenin localization was observed by confocal microscopy. RESULTS: We observed that high concentrations of GSE inhibited cell proliferation and apoptosis. Conversely, low GSE concentration decreased cell migration and invasion, likely by hampering β-catenin expression and localization, fascin and NF-κB expression, as well as by decreasing the activity of uPA, MMP-2 and MMP-9. CONCLUSIONS: These results make GSE a powerful candidate for developing preventive agents against cancer metastasis.
    European Journal of Nutrition 06/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Grape seed extract (GSE) from Italia, Palieri and Red Globe cultivars inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in Caco-2 human colon cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. In order to investigate the mechanism(s) supporting the apoptotic process, we analysed reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, intracellular Ca2+ handling and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation. Upon exposure to GSE, ROS and intracellular Ca2+ levels increased in Caco-2 cells, concomitantly with ERK inactivation. As ERK activity is thought to be essential for promoting survival pathways, inhibition of this kinase is likely to play a relevant role in GSE-mediated anticancer effects. Indeed, pretreatment with N-acetyl cysteine, a ROS scavenger, reversed GSE-induced apoptosis, and promoted ERK phosphorylation. This effect was strengthened by ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid-mediated inhibition of extracellular Ca2+ influx. ROS and Ca2+ influx inhibition, in turn, increased ERK phosphorylation, and hence almost entirely suppressed GSE-mediated apoptosis. These data suggested that GSE triggers a previously unrecognised ERK-based mechanism, involving both ROS production and intracellular Ca2+ increase, eventually leading to apoptosis in cancer cells.
    The British journal of nutrition 02/2013; · 3.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seminoma is one of the most common Testicular Germ Cell Tumours that originates during embryonic development due to an alteration of the local niche that in turn results in a delayed or blocked differentiation of Primordial Germ Cells. The block of differentiation is actually a common way to develop cancer disease as postulated by the "embryonic rest theory of cancer". In agreement with this theory different studies have demonstrated that embryonic cues display the capacity of reprogramming aggressive cancer cells towards a less aggressive phenotype. Herein we investigate the ability of a culture medium added with 10% egg albumen (EW, Egg White) to modulate seminoma cell phenotype and behaviour, by ensuring a proper set of morphogenetic signals. We chose to use the TCam-2 seminoma cell line that has been established as the only available cell line, obtained from a primary testicular seminoma. EW is able to: 1) modify TCam-2 cell spreading rate and cell-substrate adhesion without affecting proliferation and survival indexes; 2) modulate TCam-2 actin distribution pattern increasing cortical localization of actin filaments; 3) increase TCam-2 cell-cell junction capability; 4) decrease both chemo-sensitive and collective TCam-2 migratory behaviour. According to these observations morphometric fractal analysis revealed the ability of EW to increase Circularity and Solidity parameters and, consequently, to decrease Fractal dimension. Prompted by these observations we hypothesize that EW treatment could rescue, at least in part, the neoplastic-metastatic behaviour of seminoma cells.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e76192. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The microenvironment drives mammary gland development and function, and may influence significantly both malignant behavior and cell growth of mammary cancer cells. By restoring context, and forcing cells to properly interpret native signals from the microenvironment, the cancer cell aberrant behavior can be quelled, and organization re-established. In order to restore functional and morphological differentiation, human mammary MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells were allowed to grow in a culture medium filled with a 10% of the albumen (EW, Egg White) from unfertilized chicken egg. That unique microenvironment behaves akin a 3D culture and induces MCF-7 cells to produce acini and branching duct-like structures, distinctive of mammary gland differentiation. EW-treated MDA-MB-231 cells developed buds of acini and duct-like structures. Both MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells produced β-casein, a key milk component. Furthermore, E-cadherin expression was reactivated in MDA-MB-231 cells, as a consequence of the increased cdh1 expression; meanwhile β-catenin - a key cytoskeleton component - was displaced behind the inner cell membrane. Such modification hinders the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in MDA-MB-231 cells. This differentiating pathway is supported by the contemporary down-regulation of canonical pluripotency markers (Klf4, Nanog). Given that egg-conditioned medium behaves as a 3D-medium, it is likely that cancer phenotype reversion could be ascribed to the changed interactions between cells and their microenvironment.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e83770. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death throughout the world, and the risk to develop this malignant disease seems to be associated with long-term cigarette smoking. Nicotine, one of the major components of cigarette smoking, can stimulate cell proliferation and suppress apoptosis both in normal cells and in several human cancer cell lines derived from various organs. However, although nicotine appears to have a role in stimulating cell proliferation of colon cancer cells, there is no information on its role in inhibiting apoptosis in these cells. Human colorectal cancer cell lines Caco-2 and HCT-8 were treated with 1 μM nicotine alone or in combination with 1 μM α-BTX in complete or in serum free medium. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined by cell count performed with a cell counter and by cytofluorimetric assay respectively. PI3K/Akt and PKC/ERK1/2 pathways, survivin, and P-Bcl2 (Ser70) were investigated by Western blot analysis. Nicotine induced an increase in cell proliferation and a decrease of apoptosis in Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells. Both cell growth and apoptosis appear to be mediated by α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, since treatment with α-Bungarotoxin inhibited these processes. Nicotine induced a statistically significant increase in the expression of PI3K and in P-Akt/Akt ratio as well as in the expression of PKC, ERK1/2, survivin, and P-Bcl2 (Ser70) in both cell lines. Nicotine, contained in cigarette smoking, could participate in colon cancer development and progression by stimulating cell proliferation and suppressing physiological apoptosis.
    Journal of Surgical Research 03/2012; 178(1):233-41. · 2.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Morphological, qualitative observations allow pathologists to correlate the shape the cells acquire with the progressive, underlying neoplastic transformation they are experienced. Cell morphology, indeed, roughly scales with malignancy. A quantitative parameter for characterizing complex irregular structures is the Normalized Bending Energy (NBE). NBE provides a global feature for shape characterization correspondent to the amount of energy needed to transform the specific shape under analysis into its lowest energy state. We hypothesized that a chemotherapy resistant cancer cell line would experience a significant change in its shape, and that such a modification might be quantified by means of NBE parameterization. We checked out the usefulness of a mathematical algorithm to distinguish wild and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-resistant colon cancer HCT-8 cells (HCT-8FUres). NBE values, as well as cellular and molecular parameters, were recorded in both cell populations. Results demonstrated that acquisition of drug resistance is accompanied by statistically significant morphological changes in cell membrane, as well as in biological parameters. Namely, NBE increased progressively meanwhile cells become more resistant to increasing 5-FU concentrations. These data indicate how tight the relationships between morphology and phenotype is, and they support the idea to follow a cell transition toward a drug-resistant phenotype by means of morphological monitoring.
    Experimental Cell Research 02/2012; 318(7):835-46. · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Grape seed extract has been proven to exert anticancer effects on different tumors. These effects are mainly ascribed to catechin and procyanidin content. Analytical studies demonstrated that grape seed extract composition is complex and it is likely other components could exert biological activities. Using cell count and flow cytometry assays, we evaluated the cytostatic and apoptotic effects produced by three different grape seed extracts from Italia, Palieri and Red Globe cultivars, on Caco2 and HCT-8 colon cancer cells. These effects were compared to those induced by epigallocatechin and procyanidins, alone or in association, on the same cell lines. All the extracts induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in Caco2 and HCT-8 cells, along the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. On both cell lines, growth inhibition induced by Italia and Palieri grape seed extracts was significantly higher than that it has been recorded with epigallocatechin, procyanidins and their association. In Caco2 cells, the extract from Red Globe cultivar was less effective in inducing growth inhibition than procyanidins alone and in association with epigallocatechin, whereas, in HCT-8 cells, only the association of epigallocatechin and procyanidins triggers a significant proliferation decrease. On both cell lines, apoptosis induced by Italia, Palieri and Red Globe grape seed extracts was considerably higher than has been recorded with epigallocatechin, procyanidins and their association. These data support the hypothesis by which other compounds, present in the grape seed extracts, are likely to enhance the anticancer effects.
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences 01/2012; 13(1):651-64. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectifs L'importance de la rosuvastatine à des doses thérapeutiques pour réguler la libération, l'activité, le taux de protéine, et l'expression des métalloprotéinases de la matrice (MMP)-2 et MMP-9 a été étudiée. Méthodes Des cellules musculaires lisses d'artères ombilicales humaines ont été stimulées, in vitro, dans un milieu sans sérum par de la rosuvastatine à diverses concentrations (2, 4, 7, et 10 ng/mL, qui correspondent à la concentration plasmatique maximale observée chez les hommes en bonne santé après une prise orale quotidienne de 5, 10, 20, et 40 mg, respectivement). La libération de MMP-2 et de MMP-9 dans le milieu conditionné a été évaluée par analyse par immunoadsorption enzymatique et confirmée par Western blot. L'activité et l'expression étaient déterminées par zymographie et réaction d’amplification par polymérase, respectivement. Résultats Les cellules musculaires lisses d'artère ombilicale humaine stimulées avec la rosuvastatine à 7 et 10 ng/mL avaient une libération, une activité, un taux de protéines, et une expression de MMP-2 et de MMP-9 significativement plus faibles, en comparaison avec ceux après stimulation à 2 et 4 ng/mL (MMP-2 = p < 0,0001 et p < 0,0001, respectivement ; MMP-9 = p < 0,0001 et p < 0,0001, respectivement). Conclusion Les effets de la rosuvastatine pour réduire MMP-2 et MMP-9, qui pourraient stabiliser les plaques athéromateuses, sont dépendants de la dose.
    Annales de Chirurgie Vasculaire. 08/2011; 25(6):878–884.
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    ABSTRACT: The importance of rosuvastatin at therapeutic dosage in regulating the release, activity, protein level, and expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 was investigated. Human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells were stimulated, in vitro, in a serum-free medium with rosuvastatin at various concentrations (2, 4, 7, and 10 ng/mL, which correspond to the maximal plasma concentration observed in healthy men after a daily oral intake of 5, 10, 20, and 40 mg, respectively). The release of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in the conditioned medium was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and confirmed by Western blot, the activity and expression were determined by zymography and polymerase chain reaction, respectively. Human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells stimulated with rosuvastatin at 7 and 10 ng/mL had a significant lower release, activity, protein level, and expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, when compared with those stimulated at 2 and 4 ng/mL (MMP-2 =p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001, respectively; MMP-9 =p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001, respectively). The effects of rosuvastatin in reducing MMP-2 and MMP-9, which might stabilize the atherosclerotic plaques, are dose-dependent.
    Annals of Vascular Surgery 05/2011; 25(6):823-9. · 0.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Melatonin and vitamin D3 inhibit breast cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis, but they have never been combined as a breast cancer treatment. Therefore, we investigated whether their association could lead to an enhanced anticancer activity. In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, melatonin together with vitamin D3, induced a synergistic proliferative inhibition, with an almost complete cell growth arrest at 144 hr. Cell growth blockade is associated to an activation of the TGFβ-1 pathway, leading to increased TGFβ-1, Smad4 and phosphorylated-Smad3 levels. Concomitantly, melatonin and D3, alone or in combination, caused a significant reduction in Akt phosphorylation and MDM2 values, with a consequent increase of p53/MDM2 ratio. These effects were completely suppressed by adding a monoclonal anti-TGFβ-1 antibody to the culture medium. Taken together, these results indicate that cytostatic effects triggered by melatonin and D3 are likely related to a complex TGFβ-1-dependent mechanism, involving down-regulation of both MDM2 and Akt-phosphorylation.
    Journal of Pineal Research 03/2011; 50(2):150-8. · 7.30 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

122 Citations
74.39 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      • • Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine
      • • Department of Experimental Medicine
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2013
    • Università degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti e Pescara
      • Department of Neuroscience & Imaging
      Chieta, Abruzzo, Italy