Nicola Gargano

University of Barcelona, Barcino, Catalonia, Spain

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Publications (29)96.78 Total impact

  • Elisa Beghetto, Nicola Gargano
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    ABSTRACT: In the last two decades phage display technology has been used for investigating complex biological processes and isolating molecules of practical value in several applications. Bacteriophage lambda, representing a classical cloning and expression system, has also been exploited for generating display libraries of small peptides and protein domains. More recently, large cDNA and whole-genome lambda-display libraries of human pathogens have been generated for the discovery of new antigens for biomedical applications. Here, we describe the construction of a whole-genome library of a common pathogen-Streptococcus pneumoniae-and the use of this library for the molecular dissection of the human B-cell response against bacterial infection and colonization.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2013; 1061:79-95. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum to commonly used anti-malarial drugs, especially chloroquine, is being increasingly documented in India. By 2007, the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria has been revised to recommend artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for all confirmed P. falciparum cases. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy, safety and tolerability between dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) and artesunate plus mefloquine (A + M) drug combinations in the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in India. Between 2006 and 2007, 150 patients with acute uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria were enrolled, randomized to DP (101) or A + M (49) and followed up for 63 days as part of an open-label, non-inferiority, randomized, phase III multicenter trial in Asia. The heterogeneity analysis showed no statistically significant difference between India and the other countries involved in the phase III study, for both the PCR-corrected and uncorrected cure rates. As shown at the whole study level, both forms of ACT were highly efficacious in India. In fact, in the per protocol population, the 63-day cure rates were 100% for A + M and 98.8% for DP. The DP combination exerted a significant post-treatment prophylactic effect, and compared with A + M a significant reduction in the incidence of new infections for DP was observed (respectively 17.1% versus 7.5% of patients experienced new infection within follow up). Parasite and fever clearance was rapid in both treatment arms (median time to parasite clearance of one day for both groups). Both DP and A + M were well tolerated, with the majority of adverse events of mild or moderate severity. The frequencies of individual adverse events were generally similar between treatments, although the incidence of post treatment adverse events was slightly higher in patients who received A + M with respect to those treated with DP. DP is a new ACT displaying high efficacy and safety in the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria and could potentially be considered for the first-line treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in India. Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 81306618.
    Malaria Journal 07/2012; 11:233. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    Nicola Gargano, Fabio Cenci, Quique Bassat
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    ABSTRACT: Piperaquine is a bisquinoline antimalarial drug extensively used as monotherapy in China in the 1980s and subsequently included as one of the components of the artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in the 1990s. Among them, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PQP) represents a new and extremely promising fixed combination. Several clinical trials have repeatedly shown that DHA-PQP is a safe and highly efficacious therapy against uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum and the asexual stages of Plasmodium vivax malaria. Studies conducted with this drug have reported cure rates consistently above 95%, with the only exception being a study carried out in Papua New Guinea which reported a high rate of treatment failures. Although it has been hypothesized that such treatment failures could be related to cross-resistance mechanisms between piperaquine and other quinolines or to a reduced susceptibility of parasites to artemisinin derivatives, a critical review of the studies published so far seems to exclude both of these possibilities. Overall, there is now sufficient evidence on the safety and efficacy of the DHA-PQP therapy. Accordingly, the use of this ACT for the treatment of P. falciparum malaria has been recently approved in the EU via a centralized procedure by the European Medicines Agency. Moreover, it is now recommended globally by the World Health Organization as an option for the first-line treatment of uncomplicated malaria.
    Tropical Medicine & International Health 09/2011; 16(12):1466-73. · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Monocyte/macrophages represent the first line of defense against protozoan parasites. Different mechanisms of monocyte suppression by Toxoplasma gondii that sustain parasite invasion and persistence have been described, including apoptosis. In the present study, we investigated the effect of microbial excretory–secretory polypeptides, namely the microneme protein MIC3 and the dense granule antigen GRA1, on apoptosis of monocytes from patients with congenital toxoplasmosis and healthy individuals. We found that GRA1 but not MIC3 could induce apoptosis of monocytes, observing the effect in samples from both Toxoplasma-infected and uninfected individuals, thus ruling out involvement of mechanisms of apoptosis linked to adaptive immunity or a cellular context related to infection. Selective inhibition of TGF-β type I receptors reversed GRA1-induced apoptosis, indicating that this apoptosis involved canonical TGF-β signaling. By using TGF-β-neutralizing antibodies, we showed that monocyte apoptosis required endogenous TGF-β and that GRA1 stimulation activated TGF-β transcription and expression in monocytes but not lymphocytes, suggesting involvement of an autocrine TGF-β-mediated mechanism in GRA1-induced apoptosis. Keywords Toxoplasma gondii –GRA1–Apoptosis–Monocytes–TGF-β
    APOPTOSIS 06/2011; 16(6):551-562. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    Elisa Beghetto, Nicola Gargano
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    ABSTRACT: Since its introduction in 1985, phage display technology has been successfully used in projects aimed at deciphering biological processes and isolating molecules of practical value in several applications. Bacteriophage lambda, representing a classical molecular cloning and expression system has also been exploited for generating large combinatorial libraries of small peptides and protein domains exposed on its capsid. More recently, lambda display has been consistently and successfully employed for domain mapping, antigen discovery and protein interaction studies or, more generally, in functional genomics. We show here the results obtained by the use of large libraries of cDNA and genomic DNA for the molecular dissection of the human B-cell response against complex pathogens, including protozoan parasites, bacteria and viruses. Moreover, by reviewing the experimental work performed in recent investigations we illustrate the potential of lambda display in the diagnostics field and for identifying antigens useful as targets for vaccine development.
    Molecules 01/2011; 16(4):3089-105. · 2.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we have evaluated the diagnostic utility of three antigenic regions of the Mycoplasma pneumoniae P1, P30, and MPN456 gene products in order to replace the soluble, whole-cell bacterial extract in serological assays. Antigenic regions, being previously identified as B-cell epitopes, were used individually or assembled in a recombinant chimeric antigen by genetic engineering. Paired serum samples from 47 patients with M. pneumoniae infection and from 39 subjects with a clinical picture of atypical pneumonia but without a defined diagnosis of M. pneumoniae infection were included. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against epitopes carried by recombinant antigens were measured by performing recombinant enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (Rec-ELISAs). Rec-ELISA results were compared to those obtained by a commercial assay using the whole-cell Mycoplasma antigen. Our study demonstrates that all IgG Rec-ELISAs using recombinant antigens have better sensitivity with respect to the commercial assay. Furthermore, we show that the use of chimeric antigens improve the performance of the assays. The use of recombinant antigens is effective in distinguishing M. pneumoniae-infected patients from uninfected individuals and shows that immunoassays based on recombinant antigens could provide the basis for standardized commercial tests for the serodiagnosis of M. pneumoniae diseases.
    European Journal of Clinical Microbiology 11/2010; 29(11):1377-86. · 3.02 Impact Factor
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    Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 10/2009; 7(8):905-8. · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infection with the obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a significant source of parasitic infections worldwide. In adults, infections may often lead to severe retinochoroiditis. Infection of the foetus causes abortion or congenital pathology that may lead to neurological complications. Although several strategies have been suggested for making a vaccine, none is currently available. Here, we investigate the protection conferred by DNA vaccination with two constructs, pcEC2 (MIC2-MIC3-SAG1) and pcEC3 (GRA3-GRA7-M2AP), encoding chimeric proteins containing multiple antigenic sequences from T. gondii. After challenge with a T. gondii genotype II, but not a genotype III strain, a significant decrease in cerebral cyst load was found compared to the controls. The immune protection involved a cell-mediated immune response with the synthesis of the cytokines IFN-? and IL-10. In silico structure analysis and the expression profile of EC2, suggest an association between antigen stability, the degree of protein secondary structure and induction of cellular immune responses. Intracellular protein degradation is an important step in the pathway leading to presentation of antigenic peptides on Major Histocompatibility Complex molecules. We suggest that degradation of this chimeric protein may have contributed to the induction of a cellular immune response via enhanced presentation of antigenic peptides on Major Histocompatibility Complex class I molecules.
    Vaccine 05/2009; 27(18):2489-98. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of vaccines against Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans is of high priority, given the high burden of disease in some areas of the world like South America, and the lack of effective drugs with few adverse effects. Rodent models have been used in research on vaccines against T. gondii over the past decades. However, regardless of the vaccine construct, the vaccines have not been able to induce protective immunity when the organism is challenged with T. gondii, either directly or via a vector. Only a few live, attenuated T. gondii strains used for immunization have been able to confer protective immunity, which is measured by a lack of tissue cysts after challenge. Furthermore, challenge with low virulence strains, especially strains with genotype II, will probably be insufficient to provide protection against the more virulent T. gondii strains, such as those with genotypes I or II, or those genotypes from South America not belonging to genotype I, II or III. Future studies should use animal models besides rodents, and challenges should be performed with at least one genotype II T. gondii and one of the more virulent genotypes. Endpoints like maternal-foetal transmission and prevention of eye disease are important in addition to the traditional endpoint of survival or reduction in numbers of brain cysts after challenge.
    Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 04/2009; 104(2):252-66. · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ability of HCV to mutate in response to cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) pressure is increasingly recognized, but the influence of such a mechanism in viral persistence and final disease outcome has not been ascertained. In this study, we performed a detailed longitudinal analysis of cell mediated immunity and HCV evolution in two self limiting and two chronically evolving HCV acutely infected patients, one of whom transiently controlled viremia. Amino acid mutations in immunodominant regions of viruses were observed in all patients, although they conferred viral escape from CTL responses only in chronically infected individuals. Resurgence of viremia coincided with the replacement of the original virus quasispecies with mutant viruses that had escaped recognition by primary CD8(+) T cell responses and infection persisted in the presence of variant viruses which were less efficiently recognized by preexisting and de novo induced T cell responses.
    Virology 03/2009; 386(2):398-406. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mycoplasma pneumoniae is the leading cause of atypical pneumonia in children and young adults. Bacterial colonization can occur in both the upper and the lower respiratory tracts and take place both endemically and epidemically worldwide. Characteristically, the infection is chronic in onset and recovery and both humoral and cell-mediated mechanisms are involved in the response to bacterial colonization. To identify bacterial proteins recognized by host antibody responses, a whole-genome M. pneumoniae library was created and displayed on lambda bacteriophage. The challenge of such a library with sera from individuals hospitalized for mycoplasmal pneumonia allowed the identification of a panel of recombinant bacteriophages carrying B-cell epitopes. Among the already known M. pneumoniae B-cell antigens, our results confirmed the immunogenicity of P1 and P30 adhesins. Also, the data presented in this study localized, within their sequences, the immunodominant epitopes recognized by human immunoglobulins. Furthermore, library screening allowed the identification of four novel immunogenic polypeptides, respectively, encoded by fragments of the MPN152, MPN426, MPN456 and MPN-500 open reading frames, highlighting and further confirming the potential of lambda display technology in antigen and epitope discovery.
    Microbes and Infection 11/2008; 11(1):66-73. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccine-induced protection against toxoplasmosis is correlated with cellular immune responses to Toxoplasma gondii, both in animals and man. The goal of the current study was to evaluate whether the combination of a recombinant protein and a plasmid DNA vaccine could offer an advantage over the protein mixture, and protect outbred mice against infection with T. gondii. To this purpose, the chimeric protein rEC2, encoding antigenic fragments of surface-associated proteins MIC2, MIC3 and SAG1, was combined with pGRA7 plasmid DNA or rGRA7 protein. High levels of antibodies were elicited by both vaccine formulations. The protein-DNA vaccine elicited a polarized Th1/Th2 immune response, characterized by IFN-gamma and IL-10, and afforded low protection (24%) against brain cyst formation. In contrast, the protein-protein vaccine elicited a Th1-focused immune response, characterized by IFN-gamma and IL-2 production, conferring a strong protection (79%) against brain cyst formation in chronic toxoplasmosis. We show here that GERBU adjuvanted protein vaccines confer better protection against toxoplasmosis than the protein-DNA heterologous vaccine.
    Vaccine 10/2008; 26(41):5289-95. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a ubiquitous herpesvirus, is the main cause of congenital abnormalities and mental retardation in newborns and is also responsible for severe life-threatening complications in immunocompromised individuals, including AIDS patients and transplant recipients. The disorders generated by cytomegalovirus are closely associated with the competence of the host immune system and both humoral and cell-mediated mechanisms are involved in the response to viral infection. To identify viral proteins recognized by host antibody responses, a cytomegalovirus genome library was created and displayed on lambda bacteriophage. The challenge of such a library with sera from individuals with congenital or acquired infection allowed the identification of a wide panel of recombinant bacteriophages carrying cytomegalovirus B cell epitopes. Epitope-containing fragments within the families of tegument proteins (pUL25, pUL32), structural proteins (pUL48, pUL56) and glycoproteins (pUL55) were identified. Moreover, library screening permitted isolation of phage clones carrying an antigenic region of an uncharacterized HCMV protein encoded by the UL71 open reading frame (ORF), highlighting the potential of lambda display technology in antigen and epitope discovery.
    Journal of Virological Methods 08/2008; 151(1):7-14. · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To improve tumor targeting in a subset of patients, where tumor cells do not express the well-known tumor antigens widely used in immunotherapy, we have developed a novel biotechnological tool. It is useful for tumors of various origins for the identification of tumor-associated proteins, which are differentially expressed in tumor cells with respect to normal tissue, and exposed on the cell surface. For this purpose, a combination of techniques, such as "suppression subtractive hybridization" and "transmembrane trapping," was employed. In applying this novel approach to breast cancer, we identified a large panel of cDNA fragments encoding for the well-known tumor-associated surface antigens, such as erb-B2, erbB3 and the urokinase receptor and, more importantly, for several clones overexpressed in breast cancer, whose cDNA fragments match the sequences of hypothetical transmembrane proteins with unknown function. The latter may represent novel tumor-specific targets.
    International Journal of Cancer 04/2007; 120(6):1293-303. · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human infection with Toxoplasma gondii is generally asymptomatic in immunocompetent adults while it causes significant morbidity in congenitally infected children. Cell mediated immunity plays the main role in host resistance to T. gondii infection and a Th1 cytokine profile is necessary for protection and control of infection. The present work focused on comparing the helper T cell response to the GRA1 antigen of the parasite between children with congenital toxoplasmosis and healthy adults with acquired infection. We demonstrated that in young children with congenital infection the specific T cell response to parasite antigens is impaired and that such hypo-responsiveness is restored during childhood. Also, we provided clear evidence that in individuals with congenital toxoplasmosis the acquisition of functional helper T cell responses is disease-unrelated and indistinguishable in terms of strength, epitope specificity, and cytokine profile from the corresponding responses in immunocompetent adults with asymptomatic acquired T. gondii infection.
    Microbes and Infection 03/2007; 9(2):127-33. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The IgA1 protease of Streptococcus pneumoniae is a proteolytic enzyme that specifically cleaves the hinge regions of human IgA1, which dominates most mucosal surfaces and is the major IgA isotype in serum. This protease is expressed in all of the known pneumococcal strains and plays a major role in pathogen's resistance to the host immune response. The present work was focused at identifying the immunodominant regions of pneumococcal IgA1 protease recognized by the human antibody response. An antigenic sequence corresponding to amino acids 420-457 (epiA) of the iga gene product was identified by screening a pneumococcal phage display library with patients' sera. The epiA peptide is conserved in all pneumococci and in two out of three S. mitis strains, while it is not present in other oral streptococci so far sequenced. This epitope was specifically recognized by antibodies present in sera from 90% of healthy adults, thus representing an important target of the humoral response to S. pneumoniae and S. mitis infection. Moreover, sera from 68% of children less than 4 years old reacted with the epiA peptide, indicating that the human immune response against streptococcal antigens occurs during childhood. The broad and specific recognition of the epiA polypeptide by human sera demonstrate that the pneumococcal IgA1 protease contains an immunodominant B-cell epitope. The use of phage display libraries to identify microbe or disease-specific antigens recognized by human sera is a valuable approach to epitope discovery.
    BMC Microbiology 02/2007; 7:113. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Streptococcus pneumoniae is a causative agent of otitis media, pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis in humans. For the development of effective vaccines able to prevent pneumococcal infection, characterization of bacterial antigens involved in host immune response is crucial. In order to identify pneumococcal proteins recognized by host antibody response, we created an S. pneumoniae D39 genome library, displayed on lambda bacteriophage. The screening of such a library, with sera either from infected individuals or mice immunized with the S. pneumoniae D39 strain, allowed identification of phage clones carrying S. pneumoniae B-cell epitopes. Epitope-containing fragments within the families of the histidine-triad proteins (PhtE, PhtD), the choline-binding proteins (PspA, CbpD) and zinc metalloproteinase B (ZmpB) were identified. Moreover, library screening also allowed the isolation of phage clones carrying three distinct antigenic regions of a hypothetical pneumococcal protein, encoded by the ORF spr0075 in the R6 strain genome sequence. In this work, Spr0075 is first identified as an expressed S. pneumoniae gene product, having an antigenic function during infection.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 10/2006; 262(1):14-21. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have evaluated the diagnostic utility of six antigenic regions of the Toxoplasma gondii MIC2, MIC3, M2AP, GRA3, GRA7, and SAG1 gene products, assembled in recombinant chimeric antigens by genetic engineering, in order to replace the soluble, whole-cell tachyzoite extract in serological assays. Serum samples from 100 adults with acquired T. gondii infection and from 30 infants born to mothers with primary toxoplasmosis contracted during pregnancy, of whom 20 were congenitally infected, were included. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM antibodies against epitopes carried by chimeric antigens were measured by performing parallel enzyme immunoassays (recombinant enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays [Rec-ELISAs]), and the results obtained by standard commercial assays with the whole-cell Toxoplasma antigen and assays with the chimeric antigens were compared. Our results demonstrate that IgG and IgM Rec-ELISAs with individual chimeric antigens have performance characteristics comparable to those of the corresponding commercial assays. Furthermore, we show that IgM-capture assays based on chimeric antigens improve the ability to diagnose congenital toxoplasmosis postnatally compared with the ability to diagnose congenital toxoplasmosis by the use of standard assays. The use of recombinant chimeric antigens is effective in distinguishing T. gondii-infected individuals from T. gondii-uninfected individuals and shows that immunoassays based on recombinant products could provide the basis for standardized commercial tests for the serodiagnosis of toxoplasmosis.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 07/2006; 44(6):2133-40. · 4.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infection of the host by Toxoplasma gondii leads to an acute systemic dissemination of tachyzoites, followed by a chronic phase, in which bradyzoites, enclosed in cysts, persist in the brain, the heart, and other tissues. Among putative vaccine candidates, the bradyzoite antigens BAG1 and MAG1 look promising since they are preferentially expressed during the chronic stage of the parasite. This work focused on studying the immunogenicity of bradyzoite antigens in a mouse model of chronic toxoplasmosis. A mixture of plasmids directing the cytoplasmic expression of MAG1 and BAG1 in mammalian cells was used to immunize mice. We show here that immunized mice developed, preferentially, specific anti-MAG1 and anti-BAG1 IgG2a subclass antibodies, indicating a shift towards a Th1-like response after DNA immunization. We then demonstrated that DNA immunization followed by challenge infection elicited effective protection in mice, suggesting that bradyzoite antigens should be considered in the design of vaccines against toxoplasmosis.
    Experimental Parasitology 05/2006; 112(4):274-9. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The main objective of this work was to improve the early serologic diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in children at risk of congenital infection by using recombinant antigens. Serum samples from 104 infants born to mothers with primary Toxoplasma gondii infection acquired during pregnancy, of which 35 were congenitally infected and 22 had clinical silent toxoplasmosis at birth, were included. Immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgG, and IgG subtype antibodies against epitopes carried by fragments of T. gondii MIC2, MIC3, MIC4, M2AP, AMA1, and SAG1 gene products were measured by performing parallel enzyme immunoassays (Rec-ELISAs). Recombinant antigens preferentially reacted with IgG antibodies from infected infants compared to uninfected subjects (P < 0.0001), indicating that sera from infected children recognized a more diverse repertoire of antigens than sera transferred over the placenta from the mothers. Using two serial samples collected within 3 months of life, it was possible to demonstrate a neosynthesis of specific anti-MIC2 and anti-SAG1 immunoglobulin G, mainly of the IgG2 subtype, in 13 out of 20 infants with congenital toxoplasmosis. IgM antibodies in 97% of infected infants reacted with at least one of the recombinant antigens, confirming the diagnosis of congenital infection as soon as 2 months after birth (P < 0.0001). The use of recombinant antigens is effective in distinguishing T. gondii-infected from uninfected infants and shows that assays based on recombinant antigens improve the diagnosis of newborns with congenital toxoplasmosis.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 12/2005; 43(12):5916-24. · 4.07 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

510 Citations
96.78 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011
    • University of Barcelona
      Barcino, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2010
    • Università degli Studi di Siena
      Siena, Tuscany, Italy
  • 2008–2009
    • Belgian Scientific Institute for Public Health
      Bruxelles, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium
  • 2005–2009
    • Aarhus University Hospital
      • Department of Infectious Diseases
      Århus, Central Jutland, Denmark
  • 2007
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2006
    • Statens Serum Institut
      København, Capital Region, Denmark
    • University of Naples Federico II
      Napoli, Campania, Italy