Domenico Franco Merlo

CRO Centro di Riferimento Oncologico di Aviano, Aviano, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Publications (59)205.95 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Maternal exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds may affect fetal growth and development. We evaluated the association between in utero dioxin-like activity and birth outcomes in a prospective European mother-child study. We measured dioxin-like activity in maternal and cord blood plasma samples collected at delivery using the Dioxin-Responsive Chemically Activated LUciferase eXpression (DR CALUX) bioassay in 967 mother-child pairs, in Denmark, Greece, Norway, Spain, and England. Multiple linear regression models were used to investigate the associations with birth weight, gestational age, and head circumference. Plasma dioxin-like activity was higher in maternal sample than in cord samples. Birth weight was lower with medium (-58 g [95% confidence interval (CI) = -176 to 62]) and high (-82 g [-216 to 53]) tertiles of exposure (cord blood) compared with the lowest tertile. Gestational age was shorter by approximately half a week in the highest compared with the lowest (-0.4 weeks [95% CI = -0.8 to -0.1]). This association was stronger in boys than in girls, although the statistical evidence for interaction was weak (P = 0.22). Analysis based on CALUX-toxic equivalents expressed per milliliter of plasma showed similar trends. We found no association between dioxin-like activity in maternal plasma and birth outcomes. Results from this international general population study suggest an association between low-level prenatal dioxin-like activity and shorter gestational age, particularly in boys, with weaker associations for birth weight.
    Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 03/2014; 25(2):215-24. · 5.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal diet can result in exposure to environmental contaminants including dioxins which may influence foetal growth. We investigated the association between maternal diet and birth outcomes by defining a dioxin-rich diet. We used validated food frequency questionnaires to assess the diet of pregnant women from Greece, Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway and estimated plasma dioxin-like activity by the Dioxin-Responsive Chemically Activated LUciferase eXpression (DR-CALUX®) bioassay in 604 maternal blood samples collected at delivery. We applied reduced rank regression to identify a dioxin-rich dietary pattern based on dioxin-like activity (DR-CALUX®) levels in maternal plasma, and calculated a dioxin-diet score as an estimate of adherence to this dietary pattern. In the five country population, dioxin-diet score was characterised by high consumption of red and white meat, lean and fatty fish, low-fat dairy and low consumption of salty snacks and high-fat cheese, during pregnancy. The upper tertile of the dioxin-diet score was associated with a change in birth weight of − 121 g (95% confidence intervals: − 232, − 10 g) compared to the lower tertile after adjustment for confounders. A small non-significant reduction in gestational age was also observed (− 1.4 days, 95% CI: − 3.8, 1.0 days). Our results suggest that maternal diet might contribute to the exposure of the foetus to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds and may be related to reduced birth weight. More studies are needed to develop updated dietary guidelines for women of reproductive age, aiming to the reduction of dietary exposure to persistent organic pollutants as dioxins and dioxin-like compounds.
    Science of The Total Environment 01/2014; 484:121–128. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To study feasibility, safety and activity of the combination of high-dose long-infusion ifosfamide (HLI) and radiotherapy (RT) as preoperative treatment for resectable localised retroperitoneal sarcoma (RPS). Patients received three cycles of HLI (14g/m2). RT was started in combination with second cycle and administered up to a total dose of 50.4Gy. Surgery was scheduled 4-6weeks after the end of RT. Primary end-point was 3-year relapse free survival (RFS). The trial is registered with ITASARC_∗II_2004_003. Between December 2003 and 2010, 83 patients were recruited. Main histological subtypes were well differentiated liposarcoma (19/83, 23%), dedifferentiated liposarcoma (26/83, 31%), leiomyosarcoma (14/83, 17%). Median tumour size was 120mm (interquartile (IQ) range=82-160). The overall preoperative treatment was completed in 60 patients. Chemotherapy (CT) was completed in 65, while RT in 73. Four patients progressed before surgery and were not operated. 79 patients underwent surgery. At a median follow-up of 4.8years (IQ range=3-6.1), 23 and 15 patients developed local recurrence (LR) and distant metastases (DM); 30 patients died of disease. 3 and 5-year RFS and overall survival were 0.56 (90% confidence interval (CI): 0.45, 0.65) and 0.44 (90% CI: 0.27, 0.48), and 0.74 (90% CI: 0.62, 0.81) and 0.59 (90% CI: 0.33, 0.58). Crude cumulative incidence of LR and DM at 5years were 0.37 (standard error (SE): 0.06) and 0.26 (SE: 0.06). The combination of preoperative HLI and RT was feasible in two thirds of patients, while preoperative RT could be completed in most (73/83). Although a systemic coverage can be added to RT when this is felt to be appropriate, the ongoing international phase III trial is exploring the role of RT alone. This is a pure academic trial. No funding sources contributed to it.
    European journal of cancer (Oxford, England: 1990) 12/2013; · 4.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Leukemia incidence has increased in recent decades amongst European children suggesting early-life environmental exposures play an important role in disease development. We investigated the hypothesis that childhood susceptibility may increase as a result of in utero exposure to carcinogens and hormonally acting factors. Utilizing cord blood samples from the NewGeneris cohort, we examined associations between a range of biomarkers of carcinogen exposure and hormonally acting factors with micronuclei (MN) frequency as a proxy measure of cancer risk. Associations with gene expression and genotype were also explored. DNA and protein adducts, gene expression profiles, circulating hormonally acting factors, and GWAS data were investigated in relation to genomic damage measured by MN frequency in lymphocytes from 623 newborns enrolled between 2006-2010 across Europe. Malondialdehyde DNA-adducts (M1dG) were associated with increased MN frequency in binucleated lymphocytes (MNBN) and exposure to androgenic, estrogenic, and dioxin-like compounds was associated with MN frequency in mononucleated lymphocytes (MNMONO), although no monotonic exposure-outcome relationship was observed. Lower frequencies of MNBN were associated with a 1-unit increase expression of PDCD11, LATS2, TRIM13, CD28, SMC1A, IL7R, and NIPBL genes. Gene expression was significantly higher in association with the highest versus lowest category of bulky- and M1dG-DNA adducts for five and six genes, respectively. Gene expression levels were significantly lower for 11 genes in association with the highest versus lowest category of plasma AR-CALUX® (8 genes), ERα-CALUX® (2 genes), and DR-CALUX®. Several SNPs on chromosome 11 near FOLH1 significantly modified associations between androgen activity and MNBN frequency. Polymorphisms in EPHX1/2 and CYP2E1 were associated with MNBN. We measured in utero exposure to selected environmental carcinogens and circulating hormonally acting factors and detected associations with MN frequency in newborns circulating T-lymphocytes. The results highlight mechanisms that may contribute to carcinogen-induced leukemia and require further research.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 11/2013; · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tobacco-smoke, airborne, and dietary exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been associated with reduced prenatal growth. Evidence from biomarker-based studies of low-exposed populations is limited. Bulky DNA adducts in cord blood reflect the prenatal effective dose to several genotoxic agents including PAHs. We estimated the association between bulky DNA adduct levels and birth weight in a multicenter study and examined modification of this association by maternal fruit and vegetable intake during pregnancy. Pregnant women from Denmark, England, Greece, Norway, and Spain were recruited in 2006-2010. Adduct levels were measured by the (32)P-postlabelling technique in white blood cells from 229 mothers and 612 newborns. Maternal diet was examined through questionnaires. Adduct levels in maternal and cord blood samples were similar and positively correlated (median, 12.1 vs. 11.4 adducts in 10(8) nucleotides; Spearman rank correlation coefficient=0.66, p<0.001). Cord blood adduct levels were negatively associated with birth weight, with an estimated difference in mean birth weight of -129 g (95% CI: -233, -25) for infants in the highest versus lowest tertile of adducts. The negative association with birth weight was limited to births in Norway, Denmark, and England, the countries with the lowest adduct levels, and was more pronounced in births to mothers with low intake of fruit and vegetables (-248 g; 95% CI: -405, -92) compared to those with high intake (-58 g; 95% CI: -206, 90) CONCLUSIONS: Maternal exposure to genotoxic agents that induce the formation of bulky DNA adducts may affect intrauterine growth. Maternal fruit and vegetable consumption may be protective.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 07/2013; · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: AIM: In the context of the Italian Multicentric Epidemiological Study on Risk Factors for Childhood Leukaemia and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (SETIL), the risk of childhood cancer was investigated in relation to parental occupational exposures. METHODS: All cases of childhood leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in children aged 0-10 years were identified. Controls were chosen at random from the local population in each region. Parents were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The collected data were blindly reviewed by expert industrial hygienists in order to estimate exposure to a list of agents. Statistical analyses were performed for each agent using unconditional multivariable logistic regression models, taking into account timing of exposure. RESULTS: 683 cases of acute childhood leukaemia, 97 cases of NHL and 1044 controls were identified. Increased risk of childhood leukaemia was found for maternal exposure to aliphatic (OR 4.3) or aromatic hydrocarbons (OR 3.8) in the preconception period, and for paternal exposure to diesel exhaust (OR 1.4), lead exposure (OR 1.4) and mineral oils (OR 1.7). Risk of NHL appeared to be related to paternal exposure to oxygenated solvents (OR 2.5) and petrol exhaust (OR 2.2). CONCLUSIONS: We found increased risk for childhood leukaemia associated with maternal occupational exposure to aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, particularly in the preconception period; increased risks were also observed for paternal exposure to diesel exhaust fumes, mineral oils and lead. The risk of NHL appeared to be related to paternal exposure to oxygenated solvent and petrol exhausts.
    Occupational and environmental medicine 06/2013; · 3.64 Impact Factor
  • Occupational and Environmental Medicine 06/2013; · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: This open-label study compared docetaxel/gemcitabine vs. paclitaxel/gemcitabine and a weekly (W) vs. 3-weekly (3 W) schedule in metastatic breast cancer (MBC). METHODS: Patients relapsed after adjuvant/neoadjuvant anthracycline-containing chemotherapy were randomized to: A) gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 Day 1,8 + docetaxel 75 mg/m2 Day 1 q3W; B) gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 Day 1,8 + paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 Day 1 q3W; C) gemcitabine 800 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 + docetaxel 30 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 q4W; D) gemcitabine 800 mg/m2 Day 1,15 + paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 q4W. Primary endpoint was time-to-progression (TTP). Secondary endpoints were overall survival (OS) and overall response rate (ORR). RESULTS: Interim analysis led to accrual interruption (241 patients enrolled of 360 planned). Median TTP (months) was 8.33 (95% CI: 6.19-10.16) with W and 7.51 (95% CI: 5.93-8.33) with 3 W (p=0.319). No differences were observed in median TTP between docetaxel and paclitaxel, with 85.6% and 87.0% of patients progressing, respectively. OS did not differ between regimens/schedules. ORR was comparable between regimens (HR: 0.882; 95% CI: 0.523-1.488; p=0.639), while it was significantly higher in W than in the 3 W (HR: 0.504; 95% CI: 0.299-0.850; p=0.010) schedule. Grade 3/4 toxicities occurred in 69.2% and 71.9% of patients on docetaxel and paclitaxel, and in 65.8% and 75.2% in W and 3 W. CONCLUSIONS: Both treatment regimens showed similar TTP. W might be associated with a better tumour response compared with 3 W.Trial registration: Clinicaltrial.gov ID NCT00236899.
    BMC Cancer 03/2013; 13(1):164. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Approximately 20% of stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma patients are alive and disease-free 5 years after disease onset while the remaining experience rapid and fatal progression. Numerous findings underline the prognostic role of methylation of defined target genes in neuroblastoma without taking into account the clinical and biological heterogeneity of this disease. In this report we have investigated the methylation of the PCDHB cluster, the most informative member of the "Methylator Phenotype" in neuroblastoma, hypothesizing that if this epigenetic mark can predict overall and progression free survival in high-risk stage 4 neuroblastoma, it could be utilized to improve the risk stratification of the patients, alone or in conjunction with the previously identified methylation of the SFN gene (14.3.3sigma) that can accurately predict outcome in these patients. We have utilized univariate and multivariate models to compare the prognostic power of PCDHB methylation in terms of overall and progression free survival, quantitatively determined by pyrosequencing, with that of other markers utilized for the patients' stratification utilizing methylation thresholds calculated on neuroblastoma at stage 1-4 and only on stage 4, high-risk patients. Our results indicate that PCDHB accurately distinguishes between high- and intermediate/low risk stage 4 neuroblastoma in agreement with the established risk stratification criteria. However PCDHB cannot predict outcome in the subgroup of stage 4 patients at high-risk whereas methylation levels of SFN are suggestive of a "methylation gradient" associated with tumor aggressiveness as suggested by the finding of a higher threshold that defines a subset of patients with an extremely severe disease (OS <24 months). Because of the heterogeneity of neuroblastoma we believe that clinically relevant methylation markers should be selected and tested on homogeneous groups of patients rather than on patients at all stages.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e63253. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: - JOURNAL ARTICLE
    Environ Health Perspect. 01/2013; 19:19.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Open colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery induces severe and prolonged postoperative pain. The optimal method of postoperative analgesia in CRC surgery has not been established. We evaluated the efficacy of preperitoneal continuous wound infusion (CWI) of ropivacaine for postoperative analgesia after open CRC surgery in a multicenter randomized controlled trial.METHODS:Candidates for open CRC surgery randomly received preperitoneal CWI analgesia or continuous epidural infusion (CEI) analgesia with ropivacaine 0.2% 10 mL/h for 48 hours after surgery. Fifty-three patients were allocated to each group. All patients received patient-controlled IV morphine analgesia.RESULTS:Over the 72-hour period after the end of surgery, CWI analgesia was not inferior to CEI analgesia. The difference of the mean visual analog scale score between CEI and CWI patients was 1.89 (97.5% confidence interval = -0.42, 4.19) at rest and 2.76 (97.5% confidence interval = -2.28, 7.80) after coughing. Secondary end points, morphine consumption and rescue analgesia, did not differ between groups. Time to first flatus was 3.06 ± 0.77 days in the CWI group and 3.61 ± 1.41 days in the CEI group (P = 0.002). Time to first stool was shorter in the CWI than the CEI group (4.49 ± 0.99 vs 5.29 ± 1.62 days; P = 0.001). Mean time to hospital discharge was shorter in the CWI group than in the CEI group (7.4 ± 0.41 and 8.0 ± 0.38 days, respectively). More patients in the CWI group reported excellent quality of postoperative pain control (45.3% vs 7.6%). Quality of night sleep was better with CWI analgesia, particularly at the postoperative 72-hour evaluation (P = 0.009). Postoperative nausea and vomiting was significantly less frequent with CWI analgesia at 24 hours (P = 0.02), 48 hours (P = 0.01), and 72 hours (P = 0.007) after surgery evaluations.CONCLUSION:Preperitoneal CWI analgesia with ropivacaine 0.2% continuous infusion at 10 mL/h during 48 hours after open CRC surgery provided effective postoperative pain relief not inferior to CEI analgesia.
    Anesthesia and analgesia 11/2012; · 3.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Acrylamide is a common dietary exposure that crosses the human placenta. It is classified as a probable human carcinogen, and developmental toxicity has been observed in rodents. Objectives: We examined the associations between prenatal exposure to acrylamide and birth outcomes in a prospective European mother-child study. Methods: Hemoglobin (Hb) adducts of acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide were measured in cord blood (reflecting cumulated exposure in the last months of pregnancy) from 1101 singleton pregnant women recruited in Denmark, England, Greece, Norway and Spain, 2006-2010. Maternal diet was estimated through food-frequency questionnaires. Results: Both acrylamide and glycidamide Hb adducts were associated with a statistically significant reduction in birth weight and head circumference. The estimated difference in birth weight for infants in the highest versus lowest quartile of acrylamide Hb adduct levels after adjusting for gestational age and country was -132 grams (95% confidence interval (CI): -207, -56); the corresponding difference for head circumference was -0.33 cm (95%CI: -0.61, -0.06). Findings were similar in infants of non-smokers, were consistent across countries, and remained after adjustment for factors associated with reduced birth weight. Maternal consumption of foods rich in acrylamide, such as fried potatoes, was associated with cord blood acrylamide adduct levels and with reduced birth weight. Conclusions: Dietary exposure to acrylamide was associated with reduced birth weight and head circumference. Consumption of specific foods during pregnancy was associated with higher acrylamide exposure in utero. If confirmed, these findings suggest that dietary intake of acrylamide should be reduced among pregnant women.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 10/2012; · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Meningioma is one of the most common intracranial tumors and is graded according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification system. Although these tumors are often surgically curable, a malignant behavior also may occur in meningiomas with benign histologic profiles (WHO I). Thus, it is mandatory to identify biomolecular parameters useful to improve the classification of these tumors. HOXA genes belong to the HOX gene family that encodes homeodomain-containing transcription factors known to be key regulators of embryonic development, involved in cell growth and differentiation and in the development of the central nervous system. Moreover, altered HOXA gene methylation and expression have prognostic value in many tumors. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the level of HOXA3, 7, 9, and 10 methylation in meningioma could be a biomarker linked to the pathologic characteristics of the tumor. We found that methylation levels of HOXA7, 9, and 10 in 131 meningioma samples were significantly higher in WHO II/III tumors compared with WHO I tumors. Moreover, in newly diagnosed WHO I meningiomas, HOXA7, 9, and 10 methylation was significantly lower than in WHO I samples derived from recurring tumors, and multiple meningiomas presented significantly higher HOXA 10 methylation with respect to solitary meningiomas. This study demonstrates that HOXA7, 9, and 10 are methylation targets in meningioma, associated with histopathology and clinical aggressiveness parameters. Our findings suggest the possibility of detecting the malignancy potential of meningioma by assessing the HOXA methylation level and identifying patients at higher risk who could benefit from closer follow-up or postoperative adjuvant treatments.
    Translational research : the journal of laboratory and clinical medicine. 06/2012; 160(5):355-62.
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    ABSTRACT: An increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women aged<40 years has been reported in recent years. Increased incidence could be partly explained by subtle detection biases, but the role of other risk factors cannot be ruled out. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the changes in temporal trends in breast cancer incidence in European women aged 20-39 years at diagnosis. Age specific breast cancer incidence rates for 17 European Cancer Registries were retrieved for the calendar period 1995-2006. Cancer registries data were pooled to reduce annual fluctuations present in single registries and increase incidence rates stability. Regression models were fitted to the data assuming that the number of cancer cases followed the Poisson distribution. Mean annual changes in the incidence rate (AIC) across the considered time window were calculated. The AIC estimated from all European registries was 1.032 (95% CI=1.019-1.045) and 1.014 (95% CI=1.010-1.018) in women aged 20-29 and 30-39 years old at diagnosis, respectively. The major change was detected among women aged 25-29 years at diagnosis: AIC=1.033 (95% CI=1.020-1.046). The upward trend was not affected when registries with high or low AIC were removed from the analysis (sensitivity analysis). Our findings support the presence of an increase in the incidence of breast cancer in European women in their 20s and 30s during the decade 1995-2006. The interpretation of the observed increase is not straightforward since a number of factors may have affected our results. The estimated annual increase in breast cancer incidence may result in a burden of the disease that is important in terms of public health and deserves further investigation of possible risk factors.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 03/2012; 134(1):363-70. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of CTLA-4 in negative regulation of T-cell mediated immune response is particularly well established. Much less is known about its expression and function in tumour cells, and to our knowledge, no data are available on its possible impact on prognosis of NSCLC patients. We investigated CTLA-4 expression and prognostic role in 81 patients with radically resected stage I-III NSCLC. The analysis was performed by tissue microarray immunohistochemistry, and the median H-score of 20 was used as a threshold to define CTLA-4 overexpressing tumours. Correlation with standard prognostic factors was performed by using absolute and relative fold change indexes. Hazard ratios (HR) and corresponding 95% confidence limits (95% CL) were computed through the Cox model. A higher frequency of CTLA-4 overexpression (>20) was found in non-squamous than in squamous NSCLC (52.8 vs. 35.7%) and in Ki67 ≤ 15 expressing tumours, as compared to those with Ki67 > 15 (51.5 vs. 38.7%). A reduced death rate was found in CTLA-4 overexpressing tumours (HR = 0.60, 95% CL = 0.28/1.23), and a further decrease was observed when considering tumours with CTLA-4 > 20 and Ki67 ≤ 15, in comparison with tumours with CTLA-4 ≤ 20 and Ki67 > 15 (HR = 0.41; 95% CL = 0.15/1.13). Our observational and exploratory study provides a first and promising indication for an independent prognostic effect of CTLA-4 overexpression in radically resected NSCLC. We presume that this effect relies on modulation of the interaction of microscopic disease with CTLA-4-ligands expressing cells leading to NSCLC cell death.
    Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 02/2012; 61(9):1463-72. · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Benzene is an established leukemogen at high exposure levels. Although low-level benzene exposure is widespread and may induce oxidative damage, no mechanistic biomarkers are available to detect biological dysfunction at low doses. Our goals were to determine in a large multicenter cross-sectional study whether low-level benzene is associated with increased blood mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn, a biological oxidative response to mitochondrial DNA damage and dysfunction) and to explore potential links between mtDNAcn and leukemia-related epigenetic markers. We measured blood relative mtDNAcn by real-time polymerase chain reaction in 341 individuals selected from various occupational groups with low-level benzene exposures (> 100 times lower than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration/European Union standards) and 178 referents from three Italian cities (Genoa, Milan, Cagliari). In each city, benzene-exposed participants showed higher mtDNAcn than referents: mtDNAcn was 0.90 relative units in Genoa bus drivers and 0.75 in referents (p = 0.019); 0.90 in Milan gas station attendants, 1.10 in police officers, and 0.75 in referents (p-trend = 0.008); 1.63 in Cagliari petrochemical plant workers, 1.25 in referents close to the plant, and 0.90 in referents farther from the plant (p-trend = 0.046). Using covariate-adjusted regression models, we estimated that an interquartile range increase in personal airborne benzene was associated with percent increases in mtDNAcn equal to 10.5% in Genoa (p = 0.014), 8.2% (p = 0.008) in Milan, 7.5% in Cagliari (p = 0.22), and 10.3% in all cities combined (p < 0.001). Using methylation data available for the Milan participants, we found that mtDNAcn was associated with LINE-1 hypomethylation (-2.41%; p = 0.007) and p15 hypermethylation (+15.95%, p = 0.008). Blood MtDNAcn was increased in persons exposed to low benzene levels, potentially reflecting mitochondrial DNA damage and dysfunction.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 02/2012; 120(2):210-5. · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of steroids in carcinogenesis has become a major concern in environmental protection, biomonitoring, and clinical research. Although historically oestrogen has been related to development of reproductive system, research over the last decade has confirmed its crucial role in the development and homeostasis of other organ systems. As a number of anthropogenic agents are xenoestrogens, environmental health research has focused on oestrogen receptor level disturbances and of aromatase polymorphisms. Oestrogen and xenoestrogens mediate critical points in carcinogenesis by binding to oestrogen receptors, whose distribution is age-, gender-, and tissue-specific. This review brings data about cancer types whose eatiology may be found in environmental exposure to xenoestrogens. Cancer types that have been well documented in literature to be related with environmental exposure include the reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. The results of our data mining show (a) a significant correlation between exposure to xenoestrogens and increased, gender-related, cancer risk and (b) a need to re-evaluate agents so far defined as endocrine disruptors, as they are also key molecules in carcinogenesis. This revision may be used to further research of cancer aetiology and to improvement of related legislation. Investigation of cancers caused by xenoestrogens may elucidate yet unknown mechanisms also valuable for oncology and the development of new therapies.
    Environmental Health 01/2012; 11 Suppl 1:S8. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of graphical/visual presentations of cancer etiology caused by environmental stressors is a process that requires combining the complex biological interactions between xenobiotics in living and occupational environment with genes (gene-environment interaction) and genomic and non-genomic based disease specific mechanisms in living organisms. Traditionally, presentation of causal relationships includes the statistical association between exposure to one xenobiotic and the disease corrected for the effect of potential confounders. Within the FP6 project HENVINET, we aimed at considering together all known agents and mechanisms involved in development of selected cancer types. Selection of cancer types for causal diagrams was based on the corpus of available data and reported relative risk (RR). In constructing causal diagrams the complexity of the interactions between xenobiotics was considered a priority in the interpretation of cancer risk. Additionally, gene-environment interactions were incorporated such as polymorphisms in genes for repair and for phase I and II enzymes involved in metabolism of xenobiotics and their elimination. Information on possible age or gender susceptibility is also included. Diagrams are user friendly thanks to multistep access to information packages and the possibility of referring to related literature and a glossary of terms. Diagrams cover both chemical and physical agents (ionizing and non-ionizing radiation) and provide basic information on the strength of the association between type of exposure and cancer risk reported by human studies and supported by mechanistic studies. Causal diagrams developed within HENVINET project represent a valuable source of information for professionals working in the field of environmental health and epidemiology, and as educational material for students. Cancer risk results from a complex interaction of environmental exposures with inherited gene polymorphisms, genetic burden collected during development and non genomic capacity of response to environmental insults. In order to adopt effective preventive measures and the associated regulatory actions, a comprehensive investigation of cancer etiology is crucial. Variations and fluctuations of cancer incidence in human populations do not necessarily reflect environmental pollution policies or population distribution of polymorphisms of genes known to be associated with increased cancer risk. Tools which may be used in such a comprehensive research, including molecular biology applied to field studies, require a methodological shift from the reductionism that has been used until recently as a basic axiom in interpretation of data. The complexity of the interactions between cells, genes and the environment, i.e. the resonance of the living matter with the environment, can be synthesized by systems biology. Within the HENVINET project such philosophy was followed in order to develop interactive causal diagrams for the investigation of cancers with possible etiology in environmental exposure. Causal diagrams represent integrated knowledge and seed tool for their future development and development of similar diagrams for other environmentally related diseases such as asthma or sterility. In this paper development and application of causal diagrams for cancer are presented and discussed.
    Environmental Health 01/2012; 11 Suppl 1:S9. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic occupational exposure to benzene is associated with an increased risk of hematological malignancies such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. The main objective of this study was to investigate the association between benzene exposure and DNA methylation, both in repeated elements and candidate genes, in a population of 158 Bulgarian petrochemical workers and 50 unexposed office workers. Exposure assessment included personal monitoring of airborne benzene at work and urinary biomarkers of benzene metabolism (S-phenylmercapturic acid [SPMA] and trans,trans-muconic acid [t,t-MA]) at the end of the work-shift. The median levels of airborne benzene, SPMA and t,t-MA in workers were 0.46 ppm, 15.5 µg/L and 711 µg/L respectively, and exposure levels were significantly lower in the controls. Repeated-element DNA methylation was measured in Alu and LINE-1, and gene-specific methylation in MAGE and p15. DNA methylation levels were not significantly different between exposed workers and controls (P>0.05). Both ordinary least squares (OLS) and beta-regression models were used to estimate benzene-methylation associations. Beta-regression showed better model specification, as reflected in improved coefficient of determination (pseudo R(2)) and Akaike's information criterion (AIC). In beta-regression, we found statistically significant reductions in LINE-1 (-0.15%, P<0.01) and p15 (-0.096%, P<0.01) mean methylation levels with each interquartile range (IQR) increase in SPMA. This study showed statistically significant but weak associations of LINE-1 and p15 hypomethylation with SPMA in Bulgarian petrochemical workers. We showed that beta-regression is more appropriate than OLS regression for fitting methylation data.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e50471. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine whether specific HOXA epigenetic signatures could differentiate glioma with distinct biological, pathological, and clinical characteristics. We evaluated HOXA3, 7, 9, and 10 methylation in 63 glioma samples by MassARRAY and pyrosequencing. We demonstrated the direct statistical correlation between the level of methylation of all HOXA genes examined and WHO grading. Moreover, in glioblastoma patients, higher level of HOXA9 and HOXA10 methylation significantly correlated with increased survival probability (HOXA9-HR: 0.36, P = 0.007; HOXA10-HR: 0.46, P = 0.045; combined HOXA9 and 10-HR 0.28, P = 0.004). This study identifies HOXA3, 7, 9, and 10 as methylation targets mainly in high-grade glioma and hypermethylation of the HOXA9 and 10 as prognostic factor in glioblastoma patients. Our data indicate that these epigenetic changes may be biomarkers of clinically different subgroups of glioma patients that could eventually benefit from personalized therapeutic strategies.
    Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology 09/2011; 138(1):35-47. · 2.91 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

653 Citations
205.95 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2014
    • CRO Centro di Riferimento Oncologico di Aviano
      Aviano, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • 2012
    • IMIM Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2008–2012
    • Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health
      Zagrabia, Grad Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2006–2010
    • Università degli Studi di Genova
      • Dipartimento di Scienze della salute (DISSAL)
      Genova, Liguria, Italy
    • Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino di Genova
      • Department of Surgical Oncology
      Genova, Liguria, Italy
    • Institute of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health
      Sosnovice, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland
  • 2009
    • University of Leeds
      • Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM)
      Leeds, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2006–2008
    • Cancer Research and Biostatistics
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Milan
      • Department of Occupational and Environmental Health
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy