University of Padova
  • Padova, Veneto, Italy
Recent publications
Weather hazards and changing climatic regimes combined with socio-cultural changes are forcing farmers living in Algerian steppe territories to find new strategies to maintain their business, particularly in terms of animal feeding sources. Animal’s nutritional needs in the past used to be met mainly by grazing lands which nowadays cover less than 40% of feeding sources. This study aimed to determine the status of livestock system practices used by breeders in Algerian steppe territories and presents a novel method in identifying intensive systems. Data were obtained from 90 farms through a survey in the province of Tebessa. The farms were divided by their characteristics with a discriminant analysis by zone to know the characteristics of each region. Moreover, a discriminant analysis was performed to select the variables that best differentiated the farms characterised by a different percentage of feed purchased (PFP), which was taken as an index of intensive management. A stepwise regression analysis was also conducted to get predictors variables that mainly influence the percentage of feed purchased and characterise the intensive livestock farms in this area. As a result, livestock systems in steppe territories are up to changing to more intensive forms. These trends appear as solutions for farmers to improve their productivity in the face of various problems. Nevertheless, not to worsen the situation of livestock farming with the orientation towards the intensive system, it is important for farmers to be informed about international policies for practising intensive livestock farming. • HIGHLIGHTS • The current state of livestock production and practices was identified in the steppe areas. • The percentage of purchased feed had greater effects in determining the nature of the livestock systems and identifying intensive systems. • The use of modelling techniques in the identification of livestock intensification could be successfully used in the differentiation of livestock systems.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a complex immune-mediated disease in which the gut microbiota plays a central role, and may determine prognosis and disease progression. We aimed to assess whether a specific microbiota profile, as measured by a machine learning approach, can be associated with disease severity in patients with UC. In this prospective pilot study, consecutive patients with active or inactive UC and healthy controls (HCs) were enrolled. Stool samples were collected for fecal microbiota assessment analysis by 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach. A machine learning approach was used to predict the groups' separation. Thirty-six HCs and forty-six patients with UC (20 active and 26 inactive) were enrolled. Alpha diversity was significantly different between the three groups (Shannon index: p-values: active UC vs HCs = 0.0005; active UC vs inactive UC = 0.0273; HCs vs inactive UC = 0.0260). In particular, patients with active UC showed the lowest values, followed by patients with inactive UC, and HCs. At species level, we found high levels of Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Haemophilus parainfluenzae in inactive UC and active UC, respectively. A specific microbiota profile was found for each group and was confirmed with sparse partial least squares discriminant analysis, a machine learning-supervised approach. The latter allowed us to observe a perfect class prediction and group separation using the complete information (full Operational Taxonomic Unit table), with a minimal loss in performance when using only 5% of features. A machine learning approach to 16S rRNA data identifies a bacterial signature characterizing different degrees of disease activity in UC. Follow-up studies will clarify whether such microbiota profiling are useful for diagnosis and management.
The aim of the present study was to develop a model to predict muscularity and body condition score (BCS) during the lactation of Italian Simmental dairy cows in Emilia Romagna herds. A total of 2656 Italian Simmental primiparous cows from 324 dairy herds were linear classified between 2002 and 2020. Lactation curves for muscularity and BCS were modelled for each cow using random regression model. The model included the fixed effects of age at linear scoring and days in milk modelled with a Legendre polynomial, and the random effects of herd-year of classification, cow and days in milk for each cow modelled with Legendre polynomials. The most parsimonious model included a fixed cubic Legendre polynomial and a random linear polynomial for cow effects. Results indicated that, on an average, BCS nadir was anticipated to that of muscularity, and, in both cases, this moment was around the lactation peak, when animals have the greatest nutrients requirement. After this period, both BCS and muscularity recovered up to post-partum levels. Moreover, after the 9 month of lactation, the absolute growth rate of muscularity and BCS was negative, suggesting that late-gestating cows could potentially enter a phase of body conformation loss. Results reported in the current research indicate that random regression using Legendre polynomials can be successfully employed to predict muscularity and BCS during the lactation of dairy cows.Highlights Modelling dairy cows’ muscularity and BCS allows to use these parameters as indicator traits for functionality in dairy cows. The use of prediction model of muscularity and BCS allows to understand the evolution of these conformation traits during the lactation. The analysis of muscularity and BCS allows to assess health and welfare status of dairy cows, which is essential to maximise production performances. © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Despite a huge effort by the scientific community to determine the animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2, which led to the identification of several SARS-CoV-2-related viruses both in bats and in pangolins, the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is still not clear. Recently, Temmam et al. reported the discovery of bat coronaviruses with a high degree of genome similarity with SARS-CoV-2, especially concerning the RBDs of the S protein, which mediates the capability of such viruses to enter and therefore infect human cells through a hACE2-dependent pathway. These viruses, especially the one named BANAL-236, showed a higher affinity for the hACE2 compared to the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. In the present work, we analyse the similarities and differences between the 3CL protease (main protease, Mpro) of these newly reported viruses and SARS-CoV-2, discussing their relevance relative to the efficacy of existing therapeutic approaches against COVID-19, particularly concerning the recently approved orally available Paxlovid, and the development of future ones. © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Grazing behaviour influences animal productivity and the conservation of grassland ecosystem services. We used GPS tracking and remote sensing (NDVI index) to monitor the grazing patterns of lactating cows on the ‘Malga Ombretta’ summer farm (1,957m asl) in the Dolomites, eastern Italian Alps, from 5th July to 5th August 2018. The pasture area (35 ha) was grazed by a mixed herd of Simmental and Alpine grey cows (stocking density ¼ 0.6 LU/ha) under traditional management: each morning the farmer led the cows to graze in a selected sub-area of pasture, and during the afternoon he left them free to graze unrestricted until they returned to the barn for the night. GPS positions were collected every minute from 9 Simmental and 4 Alpine Grey cows with low milk production during the time they were outdoors. The farmer’s choice of where to drive the herd to graze in the morning determined the distances the cows walked/day, which varied from 2.0 to 8.9 km, and favoured the use of higher and steeper areas that the cows tended otherwise to avoid. When free in the afternoon, the cows selected areas with higher NDVI values than those selected by the farmer in the morning, and Alpine Grey cows used slightly higher slopes and altitudes than Simmental cows, suggesting better adaptation to mountain pastures. The study revealed highly heterogenous grazing patterns dependent on multiple factors that can be assessed at fine temporal and spatial scales using GPS and remote sensing technologies to improve grazing management.
Background Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is characterized by potentially severe and life-threatening attacks of localized swelling. Prophylactic therapies are available, including attenuated androgens. Efficacy of attenuated androgens has not been assessed in large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials and can be associated with frequent, and sometimes severe, side effects. As better tolerated targeted therapies become available, attenuated androgen withdrawal is increasingly considered by physicians and their patients with HAE. Attenuated androgens withdrawal has not been systematically studied in HAE, although examination of other disorders indicates that attenuated androgen withdrawal may result in mood disturbances and flu-like symptoms. Standardized protocols for attenuated androgen discontinuation that continue to provide control of attacks while limiting potential attenuated androgen withdrawal symptoms are not established as the outcomes of different withdrawal strategies have not been compared. We aim to describe the challenges of attenuated androgen discontinuation in patients with HAE and how these may continue into the post-androgen period. Case presentation We present a retrospective case series of 10 patients with confirmed type I HAE who have discontinued prophylactic treatment with attenuated androgens. The most common reason for attenuated androgen discontinuation was side effects. Attenuated androgens were either immediately withdrawn, tapered and/or overlapped with another treatment. The major challenge of discontinuation was the management of an increased frequency and severity of HAE attacks in some patients. Conclusions Healthcare teams need to undertake careful planning and monitoring after attenuated androgens discontinuation, and modify treatment strategies if HAE control is destabilized with an increased number of attacks. Discontinuation of attenuated androgens is definitively an option in an evolving HAE treatment landscape, and outcomes can be favourable with additional patient support and education.
Background Early start of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in perinatally HIV-1 infected children is the optimal strategy to prevent immunological and clinical deterioration. To date, according to EMA, only 35% of antiretroviral drugs are licenced in children < 2 years of age and 60% in those aged 2–12 years, due to the lack of adequate paediatric clinical studies on pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and drug safety in children. Methods An observational retrospective study investigating the rate and the outcomes of off-label prescription of HAART was conducted on 225 perinatally HIV-1 infected children enrolled in the Italian Register for HIV Infection in Children and followed-up from 2001 to 2018. Results 22.2% (50/225) of included children were receiving an off-label HAART regimen at last check. Only 26% (13/50) of off-label children had an undetectable viral load (VL) before the commencing of the regimen and the 52.0% (26/50) had a CD4 + T lymphocyte percentage > 25%. At last check, during the off label regimen, the 80% (40/50) of patients had an undetectable VL, and 90% (45/50) of them displayed CD4 + T lymphocyte percentage > 25%. The most widely used off-label drugs were: dolutegravir/abacavir/lamivudine (16%; 8/50), emtricitbine/tenofovir disoproxil (22%; 11/50), lopinavir/ritonavir (20%; 10/50) and elvitegravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/ tenofovir alafenamide (10%; 10/50). At logistic regression analysis, detectable VL before starting the current HAART regimen was a risk factor for receiving an off-label therapy (OR: 2.41; 95% CI 1.13–5.19; p = 0.024). Moreover, children < 2 years of age were at increased risk for receiving off-label HAART with respect to older children (OR: 3.24; 95% CI 1063–7.3; p = 0.001). Even if our safety data regarding off-label regimens where poor, no adverse event was reported. Conclusion The prescription of an off-label HAART regimen in perinatally HIV-1 infected children was common, in particular in children with detectable VL despite previous HAART and in younger children, especially those receiving their first regimen. Our data suggest similar proportions of virological and immunological successes at last check among children receiving off-label or on-label HAART. Larger studies are needed to better clarify efficacy and safety of off-label HAART regimens in children, in order to allow the enlargement of on-label prescription in children.
The detection of orbital angular momentum usually relies on optical techniques, which modify the original beam to convert the information carried on its phase into a specific intensity distribution in output. Moreover, the exploitation of high-intensity beams can result destructive for standard optical elements and setups. A recent publication suggests a solution to overcome all those limitations, by probing highly-intense vortex pulses with a structured reference beam in a strong-field photoionization process.
Background Mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins have been nominated as druggable targets in cancer. Whether their inhibition is efficacious in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) that almost invariably develops chemoresistance is unknown. Methods We used a combination of bioinformatics analyses of cancer genomic databases, genetic and pharmacological Optic Atrophy 1 (OPA1) inhibition, mitochondrial function and morphology measurements, micro-RNA (miRNA) profiling and formal epistatic analyses to address the role of OPA1 in TNBC proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and in vivo . Results We identified a signature of OPA1 upregulation in breast cancer that correlates with worse prognosis. Accordingly, OPA1 inhibition could reduce breast cancer cells proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, while OPA1 silencing did not reduce mitochondrial respiration, it increased levels of miRNAs of the 148/152 family known to inhibit tumor growth and invasiveness. Indeed, these miRNAs were epistatic to OPA1 in the regulation of TNBC cells growth and invasiveness. Conclusions Our data show that targeted inhibition of the mitochondrial fusion protein OPA1 curtails TNBC growth and nominate OPA1 as a druggable target in TNBC.
This study analyzes the impact of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) on the performance of target firms. Based on institutional theory, we hypothesize that performance deteriorates because of a lack of legitimacy, particularly when there is friction between the two national cultures and a higher risk of clashes between organizational cultures. We test our assumptions using an original dataset to compare the performance of Italian firms involved in inward cross-border M&As with that of continuing local firms that have a similar ex-ante likelihood of being merged or acquired. We apply coarsened exact matching (CEM) to establish the control group and a difference-in-differences (DID) approach to account for the possibility that target companies produce superior results simply because foreign investors “cherry-pick” the best-performing firms. Contrary to predictions, we find that foreign ownership does not deteriorate growth but enhances the profitability of target firms compared to purely domestic companies. In addition, we illustrate that the latter result remains applicable when cultural frictions between national cultures are high and when the CEO of the target company is replaced or joined by a new CEO after the deal.
Background Databases are fundamental to advance biomedical science. However, most of them are populated and updated with a great deal of human effort. Biomedical Relation Extraction (BioRE) aims to shift this burden to machines. Among its different applications, the discovery of Gene-Disease Associations (GDAs) is one of BioRE most relevant tasks. Nevertheless, few resources have been developed to train models for GDA extraction. Besides, these resources are all limited in size—preventing models from scaling effectively to large amounts of data. Results To overcome this limitation, we have exploited the DisGeNET database to build a large-scale, semi-automatically annotated dataset for GDA extraction. DisGeNET stores one of the largest available collections of genes and variants involved in human diseases. Relying on DisGeNET, we developed TBGA: a GDA extraction dataset generated from more than 700K publications that consists of over 200K instances and 100K gene-disease pairs. Each instance consists of the sentence from which the GDA was extracted, the corresponding GDA, and the information about the gene-disease pair. Conclusions TBGA is amongst the largest datasets for GDA extraction. We have evaluated state-of-the-art models for GDA extraction on TBGA, showing that it is a challenging and well-suited dataset for the task. We made the dataset publicly available to foster the development of state-of-the-art BioRE models for GDA extraction.
The manuscript describes a case report of 2 prolonged prone position cycles (72 h each) of a coronavirus disease 2019 pneumonia in an intubated pregnant woman (at 22 weeks of gestational age), being successfully discharged from intensive care unit after 20 days. There were no signs of fetal sufferance at daily obstetric monitoring during prone position, and the fetus was born fully vital and without consequences. At our knowledge, this is the first case of prolonged prone position in a pregnant woman, and we feel that our manuscript could be a valuable contribution to the literature and help intensivists in providing intensive care in these patients, confirming that prone position seems to be a valid therapeutic choice, limiting maternal and fetal hypoxia, and reducing their morbidity, even if the oculate risk/benefit should be performed. Further studies are however necessary to increase the knowledge and the good management of COVID-19 in pregnancy.
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Massimo De Marchi
  • Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering ICEA
Carlo Fantozzi
  • Department of Information Engineering
Ferdinando Maggioni
  • Department of Neurosciences
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