A Francia

Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (7)19.76 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brain area belonging to the descending pain modulatory system, plays a crucial role in pain perception. Little information is available on the relationship between PAG activation and perceived pain intensity. In this study, we acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans from the PAG during the cold pressor test, a model for tonic pain, in 12 healthy volunteers. fMRI data were acquired with a 12-channel head-coil and a 3-Tesla scanner and analyzed with Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM8) software. During the cold pressor test, fMRI showed significant activation clusters in pain-related brain areas: bilateral middle and superior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, and thalamus, left insula, right inferior frontal gyrus, left inferior temporal gyrus and in the bilateral PAG (cluster level corrected threshold p < 0.05). PAG activation correlated directly with the pain threshold and inversely with the participant’s perceived pain intensity (cluster level corrected threshold (p < 0.05). The cold pressor test consistently activated the PAG as well as other pain-related areas in the brain. Our study, showing that the greater the PAG activation the higher the pain threshold and the weaker the pain intensity perceived, highlights the key role of the PAG in inhibiting the pain afferent pathway function. Our findings might be useful for neuroimaging studies investigating PAG activation in patients with chronic idiopathic pain conditions possibly related to dysfunction in the descending pain modulatory system.
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging 01/2013; · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Psychiatric symptoms occur in approximately 30% of patients with MS. Such symptoms include OCD, which may interfere heavily with the patient's daily life. We hypothesized that the widespread involvement of both GM and WM, which characterizes MS, may be responsible for the occurrence of OCD when specific brain structures are affected. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between GM and WM tissue damage and OCD in patients with MS.MATERIALS AND METHODS:We evaluated 16 patients with relapsing-remitting MS who had been diagnosed with OCD on the basis of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) and 15 age- and sex-matched patients with relapsing-remitting MS with no psychiatric disorders as a CG. The MR study (1.5T) included 3D T1-weighted fast-field echo sequences, DTI (32 directions), and conventional MRI. Images were processed using SPM5, FSL, and Jim 5.0 software to evaluate VBM, TBSS, and global and regional LV, respectively.RESULTS:The VBM analysis revealed a set of clusters of reduced GM volume in the OCD group, compared with the CG, located in the right inferior and middle temporal gyri and in the inferior frontal gyrus. TBSS did not detect any differences in the FA values between the 2 groups; global and regional LV values also did not differ significantly between the 2 groups.CONCLUSIONS:Our study suggests that OCD in MS may be caused by damage in the right frontotemporal cortex.
    American Journal of Neuroradiology 07/2012; · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has become evident that an autoimmune component could play a role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) onset and/or progression. The aim of this study was to identify neuronal antigenic targets specifically recognized by serum autoantibodies and to investigate their cellular effects and their possible pathogenetic role. We identified, by an immunoproteomic approach using mouse brain proteins, the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase β subunit as a new autoantigen in AD. Using an ELISA assay we found that serum anti-ATP synthase autoantibodies were present in 38% of patients with AD, but in no age-matched healthy subjects or in patients with Parkinson's disease or atherosclerosis. Analytical cytology studies, using SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line, showed that ATP synthase autoantibodies were capable of inducing the inhibition of ATP synthesis, alterations of mitochondrial homeostasis and cell death by apoptosis. These findings suggest that autoantibodies specific to ATP synthase can exert a pathogenetic role via a mechanism that brings into play the impairment of the extracellular ATP homeostasis and the alteration of mitochondrial function triggering cell death by apoptosis.
    Neurobiology of aging 04/2012; 33(4):753-66. · 5.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive dysfunction frequently occurs during the course of multiple sclerosis (MS). In patients with MS the severity of cognitive manifestations is not closely related to indices of structural brain damage. Neuroplasticity may contribute to the maintenance of normal performance despite scattered brain lesions. Changes in functional organization of the cerebral cortex have been reported by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in MS. fMRI studies provide an interesting way of understanding how the brain changes its functional organization in response to MS, and might be useful in the study of the effects of rehabilitative or pharmacological therapy on brain plasticity. The purpose of this review is to examine major fMRI studies focusing on cognitive dysfunction in MS.
    Neurological Sciences 02/2012; 33(2):483. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we report the case of a Chinese patient with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who developed neutropenia after treatment by olanzapine for the SLE-related psychiatric symptoms. The relationship between agranulocytosis, SLE and olanzapine is still unknown. Fcγ receptor IIIb (FcγRIIIb) is a low-affinity receptor, constitutively expressed only by neutrophils; NA1 and NA2 have been identified as representing polymorphisms of FcγRIIIb. NA1 is associated with the incidence of autoimmune neutropenia and is particularly frequent in Asiatic ethnic groups. The Chinese patient resulted to be homozygous for NA1. We suggest that the presence of NA1 allele may be a predisposing factor to olanzapine-induced agranulocytosis in patients with SLE. Hence, the analysis of FcγRIIIb polymorphism should be investigated in other cases of antipsychotic-induced agranulocytosis.
    Lupus 09/2011; 21(1):97-9. · 2.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive dysfunction frequently occurs during the course of multiple sclerosis (MS). In patients with MS the severity of cognitive manifestations is not closely related to indices of structural brain damage. Neuroplasticity may contribute to the maintenance of normal performance despite scattered brain lesions. Changes in functional organization of the cerebral cortex have been reported by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in MS. fMRI studies provide an interesting way of understanding how the brain changes its functional organization in response to MS, and might be useful in the study of the effects of rehabilitative or pharmacological therapy on brain plasticity. The purpose of this review is to examine major fMRI studies focusing on cognitive dysfunction in MS.
    Neurological Sciences 11/2010; 31(Suppl 2):S239-43. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Functional disturbances of the immune system have been detected more often among persons affected by epilepsy than in the general population. In the February-July period of 2007 a specific questionnaire on the relationship between epilepsy and immunological response was sent to 27 specialized Centres for Epilepsy in nine Italian regions. 15,388 epileptic patients attended twenty-seven Centers during this six-month period. 3.3 percent (n=502) of these patients suffered an immune disease. This is the first National survey on the relationship between epilepsy and immunological response in current clinical practice.
    International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2010; 23(4):1267-9. · 2.99 Impact Factor