Biagio Agostara

A.R.N.A.S. Ospedale Civico Palermo, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

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Publications (58)230.12 Total impact


  • No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Cancer Research

  • No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: The development of new therapeutic strategies, such as monoclonal antibodies directed against human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2), has offered new hopes for women with early breast cancer whose tumors overexpress HER2. We retrospectively analyzed the population-based data of Breast Cancer Registry of Palermo in 2004-2006, and selected 1401 invasive breast cancer cases, nonmetastatic at diagnosis, having HER2/neu oncogene expression determined. We have correlated this information to age, tumor stage at diagnosis (TNM), nodal involvement, and receptor status (ER and PgR). Survival analysis was conducted dividing the patients in two different groups according to date of diagnosis: one group diagnosed in 2004 and a second group in 2005-2006. In the 460 cases of 2004, nodal involvement, receptor status, age at diagnosis and TNM maintained a strong predictive value (p < 0.0001). In this group of patients, overall survival was significantly different according to the HER2 expression levels (p = 0.001). In the second group of patients (941 incident cases in 2005-2006) there was a statistically significant survival difference comparing patients with high levels of HER2 expression treated with trastuzumab versus those untreated (p = 0.006). Our data show that elevated levels of HER2 are a negative prognostic factor. In addition, patients overexpressing HER2 show a significant increase of overall survival when treated with trastuzumab.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Omics: a journal of integrative biology
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated aromatase (Aro)-driven estrogen formation in non-tumoral and malignant liver tissues and cells, also in relation to expression of the estrogen receptors α and β (ERα and ERβ) and amphiregulin (AREG), aiming to gain insights into the potential role of estrogens in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Chromatographic and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses were used to assess activity and expression of the Aro enzyme and AREG as well as the expression of wild-type and variant ERs, both in vivo and in vitro. Following 24 h and 72 h incubation of liver tissues or cells with testosterone, human HCC tissues and HepG2 hepatoma cells showed elevated Aro activity (estrogen formation, respectively, of 20% and 52%-99%). By contrast, no Aro activity could be detected in non-tumoral tissues and HA22T liver cancer cells. Cirrhotic samples and Huh7 cells exhibited intermediate enzyme activity, with estrogen formation of 4% and 34%, respectively. Markedly lower or undetectable Aro mRNA levels were observed in HA22T cells and non-tumoral liver tissues compared with HepG2 cells and HCC samples. Cirrhotic specimens displayed variable transcript levels. Interestingly, no or low expression of wild-type ERα and ERβ could be observed in liver cancer cells and malignant tissues. However, ubiquitous expression of the hERα46 variant and occasional expression of the hERβ2/Cx variant were observed in cancer tissues and cells. It is noteworthy that the pattern of wild-type ERα was inversely related to Aro, whilst AREG expression was consistently associated with that of Aro. This combined evidence suggests that locally elevated Aro activity may increase malignant cell proliferation also through AREG signalling.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · Hormone molecular biology and clinical investigation
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    ABSTRACT: Although estrogen receptors (ERs) are expressed in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), several clinical trials have failed to demonstrate the efficacy of antiestrogen treatment in HCC patients. Recently, the identification of several ER splicing variants has enlightened the complex nature of estrogen signaling in peripheral tissues; this may help understanding estrogen role in either nontumoral or malignant nonclassical target organs, including liver. In this work we have investigated mRNA expression of wild-type and splice variants of ERα in nontumoral, cirrhotic, and malignant human liver, as well as in HCC cell lines, using an exon-specific reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In particular, ERα66 was detected in nontumoral and, to a lesser extent, in cirrhotic liver tissues, whereas its expression decreased or became undetectable in HCC tissues and cell lines. The ERα46 splicing variant was detected ubiquitously in all samples; interestingly, however, the ERα36 variant was inversely expressed with respect to ERα66, being highest in HepG2 cells, intermediate in Huh7 cells, and lowest in HA22T cells. It is noteworthy that aromatase was correspondingly expressed with ERα36 and inversely related to ERα66. This observation suggests that a switch from ERα66 to a predominant expression of ERα36 may be associated with development and/or progression of human HCC.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2011 · Omics: a journal of integrative biology

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: Gastric cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwilde. The five-year survival for stage IV gastric cancer is around 5-10% in Western countries. Advanced gastric cancer is sensitive to numerous agents, but there is no generally accepted standard regimen. Here we report on a case of advanced gastric cancer occurring in a 72-year-old man who underwent treatment with capecitabine plus oxaliplatin, achieving a complete response.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Tumori
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    ABSTRACT: Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) has the advantage of delivering active anthracycline directly to the tumor site, while exposing the patient to a lesser degree of doxorubicin-associated toxicities. Recently, a regimen in which paclitaxel is infused weekly over 1 h produced substantial antitumor activity with little myelosuppression. We designed a phase II trial to study the efficacy and toxicity of 10 mg/m(2) PLD on Days 1, 8 and 15, plus 70 mg/m(2) paclitaxel weekly in patients with untreated metastatic breast cancer and a high risk of cardiotoxicity. The study included 35 patients, with 31 (88.5%) evaluable for efficacy and 35 (100%) for toxicity. A total of 28 patients (80%) had two or more sites of disease. Overall, 4 complete and 16 partial responses were noted with an overall response rate of 64.5%, with 6 cases of stable and 5 cases of progressive disease. Toxicity was found to be manageable in that the only grade 3-4 side effects recorded were palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia, 8.5%; mucositis, 2.8%; leucopenia, 12.5%; anemia, 2.8% and AST/ALT, 2.8%. No cardiotoxicity was observed. In conclusion, weekly PLD plus paclitaxel appears to be a well-tolerated and effective approach for metastatic breast cancer patients with a high risk of cardiotoxicity.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · Oncology letters
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer patients with >3 involved nodes (N+) have a poor outcome. Chemotherapy (CT), alone or combined with endocrine therapy (ET) in hormone receptor (HOR)-positive patients, is the standard for these women. However, there are still questions surrounding the optimal adjuvant CT regimen. 244 patients with >3 N+ were randomized to receive either four 3-weekly courses of epirubicin (E: 100 mg/m(2), day 1) followed by four 4-weekly cycles of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil (CMF: 600, 40, 600 mg/m(2), days 1, 8: n = 122) or four 3-weekly courses of paclitaxel (T: 175 mg/m(2), day 1) followed by four 3-weekly cycles of epirubicin and vinorelbine (E: 75 mg/m(2), day 1; V: 25 mg/m(2), days 1, 8: n = 122). After CT, tamoxifen (plus an LH-RH analog in menstruating women) was given to all HOR-positive patients over a period of 5 years. Overall survival (OS) was the primary end point. Relapse-free survival (RFS) and toxicity were secondary end points. At a median follow-up time of 102 months (range 3-146), OS and RFS did not differ significantly between groups (E-CMF vs. T-EV: OS, HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.59-1.48, p = 0.8; RFS, HR 0.86, 95% CI 0.57-1.29, p = 0.45). The lack of any difference between assigned treatments was confirmed by multivariate analysis (E-CMF vs. T-EV: RFS, HR 0.98, 95% CI 0.64-1.48, p = 0.9). The 2 regimens showed different toxicity profiles. In fact, significantly more women assigned to E-CMF were affected by stomatitis (p = 0.001) while significantly more women in the T-EV group developed peripheral neuropathy (p < 0.0001) and musculoskeletal disorders (p < 0.0001). However, side effects were moderate and manageable and no toxic death occurred in either arm of the study. T-EV was safe and moderately toxic but was not superior to E-CMF.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2010 · Oncology
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with metastatic breast cancer previously treated with anthracyclines for advanced disease are usually refractory to any further treatment with anthracyclines and have a poor prognosis. Therefore, new drugs or new combinations of drugs are needed. One approach has been to focus on the type of chemotherapy with low toxicity that preserves quality of life during treatment, such as weekly drug administration. We designed a dose-finding study to determine the maximum tolerated dose of gemcitabine plus docetaxel, given on a weekly schedule in metastatic breast cancer previously treated with anthracyclines. Three escalating doses of gemcitabine (900, 1000 and 1100 mg/m2) on days 1 and 8 in combination with a fixed dose of docetaxel, 35 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 were planned. Dose-limiting toxicity included grade > 3 hematologic toxicity, grade > 2 stomatitis, asthenia, diarrhea or organ-specific toxicity (except alopecia). Dose escalation was stopped if 1 out of 3 patients at any dose level experienced dose-limiting toxicity. Nine patients received a mean of 5.1 (range, 1-9) cycles. Gastrointestinal and leukopenia were the main dose-limiting toxicity. No patient experienced dose-limiting toxicity at dose level 1; at dose level 2, 2 out of 3 patients had dose-limiting toxicity and 3 additional patients treated at dose level 2 confirmed that the maximum tolerated dose had been reached. The recommended gemcitabine dose in combination with docetaxel (35 mg/m2 for a phase II study) was established at 900 mg/m2.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · Tumori
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    ABSTRACT: A multicentric randomized trial was performed in premenopausal women with node-positive, estrogen-receptor-negative breast tumors to assess the potential superiority of alternating adjuvant chemotherapy over ‘standard’ CMF chemotherapy. Between January 1989 and June 1992, 107 patients were entered into the study and randomly allocated to receive either cyclophosphamide 100 mg/m2 per os on days 1-14, methotrexate 40 mg/m2 and 5-fluorouracil 600 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) on days 1, 8 (CMF), every 4 weeks for a total of 6 cycles, or the following regimens: CMF as previously; epidoxorubicin 75 mg/m2 IV on day I and vincristine 0.75 mg/m2 IV on days 1, 8 (EV); mitomycin-C 10 mg/m2 IV on day 1 and vindesine 2 mg/m2 IV on days 1, 8 (MVs). The three regimens were given every 4 weeks for a total of 6 cycles according to the following schedule: CMF, EV, MVs, CMF, EV, MVs. At a median follow up of 48 months (range 30-72), 40 patients have relapsed and 17 have died overall. More patients in the triple-combination arm have relapsed and more have died, the latter difference tending toward statistical significance (p = 0.06). There was no statistical difference in the site of relapse between the two groups. Total duration of adjuvant therapy was similar in the two arms (312 chemotherapy cycles in the triple arm and 308 in the CMF arm). Treatment toxicity was also comparable, although more patients in the triple-combination arm were still regularly menstruating 6 months after the completion of chemotherapy. This study failed to show any advantage ensuing from the use of alternating chemotherapy inpatients with early breast cancer.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2009 · Cancer Investigation
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    ABSTRACT: There is indirect multiple evidence that hints at a potential role of sex steroids in development and progression of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, we have investigated androgen metabolism in a panel of human liver cancer cell lines (HA22T, Huh7, HepG2) and in normal, cirrhotic and malignant human liver tissues aiming to dissect the potential impact of individual enzyme activities and their products in normal and diseased human liver, both in vivo and in vitro. Using our intact cell analysis we were able to assess rates and pathways of androgen metabolism in living conditions. Overall, incubation of cultured cells or tissue minces with either testosterone (T) or androstenedione (Ad) used as precursor resulted in a large extent of 17betaoxidation of T to Ad (cells: 28-77%; tissues: 35-50%). In malignant liver cell lines, both HA22T and Huh7 cells showed consistent amounts of the 5alpha-reductase enzyme products (18% and 15%, respectively), while 5beta-reductase activity was more pronounced in Huh7 cells (18%) than in HA22T cells (1.8%). Interestingly, a significant extent of estrogen formation could be observed in Huh7 cells (5.4-11.5%), while no aromatase activity could be detected in HA22T cells. In HepG2 cells, along with a relatively high proportion of Ad, estrogens represented the most prominent (50-55%) end product of androgen metabolism, regardless of the precursor used. In liver tissues, equivalent results could be obtained, with a consistent proportion of 17betaoxidation of T to Ad (35-50%) being observed in the majority of samples. However, while normal liver tissue samples exhibited a minor proportion of bioactive androgens (3.4%) with no aromatase products, HCC tissues showed a significant extent of aromatase activity (nearly 20%) with estrogen representing the most prominent metabolic product after 24h incubation with either T or Ad. HCV and alcoholic cirrhotic tissues displayed different patterns of androgen metabolism. The former produced limited amounts of bioactive androgens (5.3%) and considerable levels of the intermediate aromatase product 19OH-Ad (up to 28%), the latter exhibited a prevalence of androgen degradation through the 5beta-reductase pathway (9.8%) and a significant extent of aromatase activity (16% as a whole). In conclusion, three major metabolic states could be depicted, depending on prevalent pathways of androgen metabolism and steroid receptor status: estrogenic, androgenic, and mixed. This model supports the idea that local estrogen biosynthesis may be implicated in human HCC and provides a basis for the exploitation of aromatase inhibitors and/or ER antagonists or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) as a new therapeutic strategy in HCC patients.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2009 · The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology
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    ABSTRACT: This study compares the survival of breast cancer patients who are metastatic at diagnosis (DMBC) and of recurrent metastatic breast cancer (RMBC) patients. We analyzed retrospectively the population-based data of Breast Cancer Registry of Palermo and collected a total of 4459 breast cancer cases in the years 1999-2005. Survival analysis did not show statistically significant differences between DMBC and RMBC patients (P= 0.882). Endocrine manipulation is the treatment of choice in the case of hormone receptor-positive breast tumors. In 91 receptor-positive DMBC patients the endocrine treatment was associated with a prolonged overall survival (OS) (median survival 33.5 months compared to 29 months for receptor-positive patients who did not receive hormone treatment). Receptor-negative patients who underwent endocrine therapy (76% of cases) survived longer than receptor-negative patients who did not receive hormone treatment (median survival 28.5 months vs. 15 months, respectively). This evidence supports the concept that endocrine therapies impinging upon molecular targets other than hormone receptors may increase survival rates of breast cancer patients.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2009 · Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
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    Biagio Agostara · Giuseppe Carruba · Antonella Usset
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer is universally considered a disease of ageing. Today the management of elderly cancer patients poses many specific problems and it should be revisited in the light of the most recent advances in both diagnosis and treatment of human malignancies. In particular, the potential use of novel therapeutic options, based on therapeutic agents raised against molecular targets (the so called targeted therapy), appears to be promising in this clinical settings especially in view of the limited side-effects. The mainstays of cancer treatment during the twentieth century were surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, surgery is not curative in metastatic disease, radiation and chemotherapy are limited by side effects because they can't discriminate between healthy and cancerous cells. When key molecular changes responsible for malignant transformation were identified (e.g. growth factors and their receptors), it was hoped that new targeted agents, by inhibiting cancer-specific pathways, would spare normal cells and thereby offer improved safety benefits and a higher therapeutic index over standard chemotherapeutics. The most common targeted therapies used in clinical practice, i.e. monoclonal antibodies and small molecules, are described.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009 · Immunity & Ageing
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    Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · EJC Supplements
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    ABSTRACT: Spondylodiscitis is an infection of the intervertebral disk and the adjacent vertebrae, with or without associated epidural or psoas abscesses. It is a serious disease both due to its long-term course and the possible outcomes. It is frequently caused by S. aureus and, in endemic areas, by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Brucella spp. We describe 9 cases, from October 2004 to August 2005, all spontaneous diseases occurring in adults (mean age 64 years). The site of infection was lumbar in 7, lumbar-sacral in 1 and dorsal in 1. None were associated to sepsis. The causative bacteria were known in 6 cases (1 BK, 1 S. aureus, 4 Brucella) and unknown in 3 cases. In all cases therapy was only medical. Significant circulation in Sicily of both Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Brucella spp. make those microorganisms the most frequent agents of spondylodiscitis.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2008 · Le infezioni in medicina: rivista periodica di eziologia, epidemiologia, diagnostica, clinica e terapia delle patologie infettive
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    ABSTRACT: A phase III randomized trial was carried out to compare two schedules of the vinorelbine (VNR)-cisplatin (CDDP) regimen in patients with locally advanced unresectable poor prognosis stage IIIB or metastatic stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. The primary endpoints were overall survival (OS) and analysis of toxicity, while secondary endpoints included response rates, time-to-progression (TTP) and quality of life (QoL). Eligible patients were randomized to receive: (a) VNR 25mg/m(2) on day 1, 8 and 15 plus CDDP 100mg/m(2) on day 1 every 4 weeks or (b) VNR 30 mg/m(2) on day 1 and 8 plus CDDP 80 mg/m(2) on day 1 every 3 weeks. All patients were chemotherapy-naïve and had an ECOG performance status (PS) of 0-1. Overall 278 patients were enrolled into the trial. Overall response rate was 34% (95% CL 26-42%) in the weekly VNR/CDDP arm, and 32% (95% CL 24-40%) in patients treated with day 1-8 VNR/CDDP without any statistically significant difference. Median TTP was 4.5 and 4.6 months respectively for weekly VNR/CDDP arm and the day 1-8 VNR/CDDP one. This difference was not statistically significant (log-rank test, p=0.818). Median OS was 9.45 and 10 months respectively for weekly VNR/CDDP arm and the day 1-8 VNR/CDDP one without statistically a significant difference (log-rank test, p=0.259). The 1- and 2-year survival rates were 31 and 36%, and 10 and 11% respectively. The incidence of severe neutropenia (34% versus 68%; p=0.0001) and of febrile neutropenia (5% versus 12%; p=0.026), as well as the rate of therapy omissions (10% versus 24%; p=0.0037) were higher in the weekly VNR/CDDP arm than in the day 1-8 VNR/CDDP one. The weekly VNR/CDDP regimen was associated with a lower received dose intensity in a statistically significant fashion (9% versus 22%; p=0.0001) and with a lower non-statistically significant quality of life score as compared to the day 1-8 VNR/CDDP schedule. The combination of day 1-8 VNR plus CDDP every 3 weeks is less toxic and better tolerated than the regimen of weekly VNR plus CDDP every 4 weeks. The two schedules are equivalent in terms of overall response rate, median time-to-progression and overall survival. The combination of VNR on day 1-8 plus CDDP every 3 weeks may be considered as a reference regimen for the treatment of patients with advanced disease and those who deserve a postoperative therapy, and for future studies.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2008 · Lung Cancer
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last few years evidence has emerged to indicate the involvement of herpes viruses in several infectious complications observed in patients undergoing antiblastic chemotherapy. We present a case of bilateral parotiditis due to EBV reactivation in a patient who had received chemotherapy because of an invasive thymoma. In October 2006, a 53-year-old man with pulmonary and pleural metastases owing to an invasive thymoma, was started on chemotherapy with cisplatin, adriamycin and cyclophosphamide. In January 2007, after consultation with an infectious disease specialist, the patient was admitted to the oncology department because of bilateral swelling of the parotid glands which was most likely of infectious or mycotic origin and attributed to immunosuppression by chemotherapy (the last cycle was completed on 28th December 2006). During his hospital stay, the patient underwent routine blood tests, serological tests (EBV-VCA IgM/IgG: positive/positive, EBV-EBNA IgG: positive), cultural and instrumental tests. Due to the serological results, we decided to search for EBV in blood by using PCR (23,000 copies/100,000 cells). We hypothesize that EBV infection could have caused both thymoma and bilateral parotiditis. Accordingly, a multidisciplinary approach, including consultation with an oncologist, infectious disease and microbiology specialists, is the best way to manage infectious complications in patients with a deficit of cells-mediated immunity.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Le infezioni in medicina: rivista periodica di eziologia, epidemiologia, diagnostica, clinica e terapia delle patologie infettive

  • No preview · Article · Sep 2007 · EJC Supplements
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    ABSTRACT: We have evaluated HER2/neu expression in 1,355 breast cancer patients recruited at the Breast Cancer Registry in Palermo between January 1999 and December 2004. In this retrospective study, HER2/neu expression was related to clinicopathologic features of the disease, including tumor size, nodal and menopausal status, estrogen and progesterone receptors. Statistical analysis on all 1,355 patients showed a significant correlation between HER2/neu and nodal status (P < 0.001), and a significant association between HER2/neu overexpression and estrogen and progesterone receptors status (P < 0.001). In 194 patients without metastasis, with an average follow-up > or =5 years, only HER2/neu 3+ and histopathologic grading G3 were significantly associated with overall survival.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2006 · Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences