[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Qataris, a population characterized by a small size and a high rate of consanguinity, between two-thirds to three-quarters of adults are overweight or obese. We investigated the relevance of 23 obesity-related loci in the Qatari population.
Eight-hundred-four individuals assessed to be third generation Qataris were included in the study and assigned to 3 groups according to their body mass index (BMI): 190 lean (BMI < 25 kg/m(2)); 131 overweight (25 kg/m(2) ≤ BMI < 30 kg/m(2)) and 483 obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)). Genomic DNA was isolated from peripheral blood and genotyped by TaqMan.
Two loci significantly associated with obesity in Qataris: the TFAP2B variation (rs987237) (A allele versus G allele: chi-square = 10.3; P = 0.0013) and GNPDA2 variation (rs10938397) (A allele versus G allele: chi-square = 6.15; P = 0.013). The TFAP2B GG genotype negatively associated with obesity (OR = 0.21; P = 0.0031). Conversely, the GNDPA2 GG homozygous genotype associated with higher risk of obesity in subjects of age < 32 years (P = 0.0358).
We showed a different genetic profile associated with obesity in the Qatari population compared to Western populations. Studying the genetic background of Qataris is of primary importance as the etiology of a given disease might be population-specific.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Translational Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Donor-derived immunity against tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) may exert selective anti-leukemic activity reprieving the allogeneic recipient from graft-versus-host disease. As TAAs are highly expressed in placental tissues we hypothesized that pregnancy could drive respective immunity in healthy individuals. Thus, we investigated the frequency and level of immune responses against clinically relevant TAAs in 114 blood donors and 44 women during their first pregnancy. RT-qPCR was employed to detect low levels of Interferon-γ after primary peptide stimulation of CD8(+) T lymphocytes. In blood donors primary immune responses of low and/or high avidity were found against WT1 (15%), MUC1 (14%), PRAME (7%), and HER2/neu (5%) and exerted killing functions against leukemic cells. Men had higher responses than women likely due to gonadal cancer-testis-antigen expression. Interestingly, a history of prior delivery was not associated with increased responses whereas the strongest responses during pregnancy were found in early trimesters to disappear after delivery. This boost and loss of TAA-specific immunity suggests that virtually every donor harbours the potential to mount anti-leukemic immune responses in a recipient. However, in the absence of the driving target and a permissive environment they are short-lived and thus require supplemental strategies such as vaccination or immunomodulation to facilitate their persistence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: The existence of a dichotomy between immunologically active and quiescent melanoma phenotypes has been recently recognized in several types of cancer. The activation of a Th1 type of immune signature has been shown to confer better prognosis and likelihood to respond to immunotherapy. However, whether such dichotomy depends on the genetic make-up of individual cancers is not known yet. BRAF and NRAS mutations are commonly acquired during melanoma progression. Here we explored the role of BRAF and NRAS mutations in influencing the immune phenotype based on a classification previously identified by our group.
113 melanoma metastases underwent microarray analysis and BRAF and NRAS genotyping. Allele-specific PCR was also performed in order to exclude low-frequency mutations.
Comparison between BRAF and NRAS mutant versus wild type samples identified mostly constituents or regulators of MAPK and related pathways. When testing gene lists discriminative of BRAF, NRAS and MAPK alterations, we found that 112 BRAF-specific transcripts were able to distinguish the two immune-related phenotypes already described in melanoma, with the poor phenotype associated mostly with BRAF mutation. Noteworthy, such association was stronger in samples displaying low BRAF mRNA expression. However, when testing NRAS mutations, we were not able to find the same association.
This study suggests that BRAF mutation-related specific transcripts associate with a poor phenotype in melanoma and provide a nest for further investigation.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Molecular Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Several lines of evidence suggest a dichotomy between immune active and quiescent cancers, with the former associated with a good prognostic phenotype and better responsiveness to immunotherapy. Central to such dichotomy is the master regulator of the acute inflammatory process interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1. However, it remains unknown whether the responsiveness of IRF-1 to cytokines is able to differentiate cancer immune phenotypes.
IRF-1 activation was measured in 15 melanoma cell lines at basal level and after treatment with IFN-γ, TNF-α and a combination of both. Microarray analysis was used to compare transcriptional patterns between cell lines characterised by high or low IRF-1 activation.
We observed a strong positive correlation between IRF-1 activation at basal level and after IFN-γ and TNF-α treatment. Microarray demonstrated that three cell lines with low and three with high IRF-1 inducible translocation scores differed in the expression of 597 transcripts. Functional interpretation analysis showed mTOR and Wnt/β-cathenin as the top downregulated pathways in the cell lines with low inducible IRF-1 activation, suggesting that a low IRF-1 inducibility recapitulates a cancer phenotype already described in literature characterised by poor prognosis.
Our findings support the central role of IRF-1 in influencing different tumour phenotypes.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · British Journal of Cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common liver malignancy, is the third and the fifth cause of cancer death in the world in men and women, respectively. Several factors have been associated to the etiopathogenesis of HCC, particularly the hepatitis B and C virus (HBV and HCV). Non viral causes, including toxins and drugs (i.e. alcohol, aflatoxins, anabolic steroids), play a role in a minor number of cases. HCC prevalence in Italy (15x10-5) is significantly higher compared to other Western countries (<3x10-5). In areas of the Campania Region, where HCV infection shows a prevalence of 7.5% with peak of 23.2% in the over 65-year old age group, HCC incidence is >40x10-5. Little is still known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the progression of chronic HCV infections to HCC through several involved steps (i.e. chronic inflammation, cell death, cirrhosis, regeneration, dysplastic lesions). To get some further hints, high-density oligoarrays have been used to analyze liver diseases in comparison to normal liver tissue. Gene expression profiling of 71 biopsies from HCV-related primary HCC paired with peritumoral HCV-positive tissue, as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases paired with the apparently normal peritumoral tissue, were compared to 6 liver biopsies from healthy individuals. Specific expression partners have been identified for chronic HCV infection and HCC, as well as for liver metastases. Besides diagnostic molecular signatures, able to complement conventional pathologic assessment, biomarkers for early HCC diagnosis have been selected. Validation studies are in progress to define prognostic molecular patterns and markers predictive of therapeutic response for individually-tailored therapies.
No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are a heterogeneous group of tumors that differ in risk factors and genetic alterations. In Italy, particularly Southern Italy, chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents the main cause of HCC. Using high-density oligoarrays, we identified consistent differences in gene-expression between HCC and normal liver tissue. Expression patterns in HCC were also readily distinguishable from those associated with liver metastases. To characterize molecular events relevant to hepatocarcinogenesis and identify biomarkers for early HCC detection, gene expression profiling of 71 liver biopsies from HCV-related primary HCC and corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC hepatic tissue, as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases paired with the apparently normal peri-tumoral liver tissue, were compared to 6 liver biopsies from healthy individuals. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with HCV-related primary HCC, corresponding HCV-positive non-HCC as well as gastrointestinal liver metastases. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the genes differentially expressed as related to regulation of gene expression and post-translational modification in HCV-related primary HCC; cellular Growth and Proliferation, and Cell-To-Cell Signaling and Interaction in HCV-related non HCC samples; Cellular Growth and Proliferation and Cell Cycle in metastasis. Also characteristic gene signatures were identified of HCV-HCC progression for early HCC diagnosis.
A diagnostic molecular signature complementing conventional pathologic assessment was identified.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Vaccinia virus (VACV) has emerged as an attractive tool in oncolytic virotherapy. VACV replication efficiency plays a crucial role in the therapeutic outcome. However, little is known about the influence of host factors on viral replication efficiency and permissiveness of a host cell line to infection and oncolysis. In this study, replication of the attenuated VACV GLV-1h68 strain and three wild-type VACV isolates was determined in two autologous human melanoma cell lines (888-MEL and 1936-MEL). Host gene expression and viral gene expression in infected cells were evaluated via respective expression array platforms. Microarray analyses followed by sequential statistical approaches characterized human genes that change specifically due to virus infection. Viral gene transcription correlated with viral replication in a time-dependent manner. A set of human genes revealed strong correlations with the respective viral gene expression. Finally we identified a set of human genes with possible predictive value for viral replication in an independent dataset. The results demonstrate a probable correlation between viral replication, early gene expression, and the respective host response, and thus a possible involvement of human host factors in viral early replication. The characterization of human target genes that influence viral replication could help answer the question of host cell permissiveness to oncolytic virotherapy and provide important information for the development of novel recombinant vaccinia viruses with improved features to enhance replication rate and hence trigger therapeutic outcome.
No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Human Gene Therapy Methods
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaccinia virus (VACV) has emerged as an attractive tool in oncolytic virotherapy. VACV replication efficiency plays a crucial role in the therapeutic outcome. However, little is known about the influence of host factors on viral replication efficiency and permissiveness of a host cell line to infection and oncolysis. In this study, replication of the attenuated VACV GLV-1h68 strain and 3 wild type VACV isolates was determined in two autologous human melanoma cell lines (888-MEL and 1936-MEL). Host gene expression and viral gene expression in infected cells were evaluated via respective expression array platforms. Microarray analyses followed by sequential statistical approaches characterized human genes which change specifically due to virus infection. Viral gene transcription correlated with viral replication in a time-dependent manner. A set of human genes revealed strong correlations with the respective viral gene expression. Finally we identified a set of human genes with possible predictive value for viral replication in an independent dataset. The results demonstrate a probable correlation between viral replication, early gene expression and the respective host response and thus a possible involvement of human host factors in viral early replication. The characterization of human target genes that influence viral replication could help answering the question of host cell permissiveness to oncolytic virotherapy and provide important information for the development of novel recombinant vaccinia viruses with improved features to enhance replication rate and hence trigger therapeutic outcome.
No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Human Gene Therapy Methods
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because oncogene MET and EGF receptor (EGFR) inhibitors are in clinical development against several types of cancer, including glioblastoma, it is important to identify predictive markers that indicate patient subgroups suitable for such therapies. We investigated in vivo glioblastoma models characterized by hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) autocrine or paracrine activation, or by MET or EGFR amplification, for their susceptibility to MET inhibitors. HGF autocrine expression correlated with high phospho-MET levels in HGF autocrine cell lines, and these lines showed high sensitivity to MET inhibition in vivo. An HGF paracrine environment may enhance glioblastoma growth in vivo but did not indicate sensitivity to MET inhibition. EGFRvIII amplification predicted sensitivity to EGFR inhibition, but in the same tumor, increased copies of MET from gains of chromosome 7 did not result in increased MET activity and did not predict sensitivity to MET inhibitors. Thus, HGF autocrine glioblastoma bears an activated MET signaling pathway that may predict sensitivity to MET inhibitors. Moreover, serum HGF levels may serve as a biomarker for the presence of autocrine tumors and their responsiveness to MET therapeutics.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oncolytic viral therapy represents an alternative therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer. We previously described GLV-1h68, a modified Vaccinia Virus with exclusive tropism for tumor cells, and we observed a cell line-specific relationship between the ability of GLV-1h68 to replicate in vitro and its ability to colonize and eliminate tumor in vivo.
In the current study we surveyed the in vitro permissivity to GLV-1h68 replication of the NCI-60 panel of cell lines. Selected cell lines were also tested for permissivity to another Vaccinia Virus and a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) strain. In order to identify correlates of permissity to viral infection, we measured transcriptional profiles of the cell lines prior infection.
We observed highly heterogeneous permissivity to VACV infection amongst the cell lines. The heterogeneity of permissivity was independent of tissue with the exception of B cell derivation. Cell lines were also tested for permissivity to another Vaccinia Virus and a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) strain and a significant correlation was found suggesting a common permissive phenotype. While no clear transcriptional pattern could be identified as predictor of permissivity to infection, some associations were observed suggesting multifactorial basis permissivity to viral infection.
Our findings have implications for the design of oncolytic therapies for cancer and offer insights into the nature of permissivity of tumor cells to viral infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over 90% of low risk (LR) neuroblastoma patients survive whereas less than 30% of high risk (HR) patients are long term survivors. Age (children younger than 18 months old) is associated with LR disease. Considering that adaptive immune system is well developed in older children, and that T cells were shown to be involved in tumor escape and progression of cancers, we sought to determine whether HR patients may tend to show a signature of adaptive immune responses compared to LR patients who tend to have diminished T-cell responses but an intact innate immune response.
We performed microarray analysis of RNA extracted from the tumor specimens of HR and LR patients. Flow cytometry was performed to determine the cellular constituents in the blood while multiplex cytokine array was used to detect the cytokine profile in patients' sera. A HR tumor cell line, SK-N-SH, was also used for detecting the response to IL-1β, a cytokines which is involved in the innate immune responses.
Distinct patterns of gene expression were detected in HR and LR patients indicating an active T-cell response and a diminished adaptive immune response, respectively. A diminished adaptive immune response in LR patients was evident by higher levels of IL-10 in the sera. In addition, HR patients had lower levels of circulating myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) compared with a control LR patient. LR patients showed slightly higher levels of cytokines of the innate immune responses. Treatment of the HR tumor line with IL-1β induced expression of cytokines of the innate immune responses.
This data suggests that adaptive immune responses may play an important role in the progression of HR disease whereas innate immune responses may be active in LR patients.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Journal of Translational Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies conducted in animal model of infectious diseases or H-Y antigen model suggest a crucial role for CD4+ T cells in providing help for CD8+ T-cell memory responses. This concept suggests that inclusion of T helper epitopes in vaccine formulation will result in improved CD8+ T-cell responses. Although this concept has been applied to cancer vaccine design, the role of CD4+ T cells in the memory differentiation of CD8+ T cells and retention of their anti-tumor function have never been tested in breast cancer model. Using the FVB mouse model of neu-positive breast carcinoma we report for the first time that helpless T cells showed cytostatic or tumor inhibitory effects during primary tumor challenge whereas, helped T cells showed cytotoxic effects and resulted in complete tumor rejection. Such differential effects, in vivo, were associated with higher frequency of CD8+PD-L1+ and CD8+PD-1+ T cells in animals harboring helpless T cells as well as higher titer of IL-2 in the sera of animals harboring helped T cells. However, depletion of CD4+ T cells did not alter the ability of neu-specific CD8+ T cells to differentiate into memory cells and to retain their effector function against the tumor during recall challenge. These results suggest the inhibitory role of CD4+ T cells on CD8+ T-cell exhaustion without substantial effects on the differentiation of memory T cells during priming phase of the immune responses against breast cancer.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In principle, the elimination of malignancies by oncolytic virotherapy could proceed by different mechanisms--e.g. tumor cell specific oncolysis, destruction of the tumor vasculature or an anti-tumoral immunological response. In this study, we analyzed the contribution of these factors to elucidate the responsible mechanism for regression of human breast tumor xenografts upon colonization with an attenuated vaccinia virus (VACV).
Breast tumor xenografts were analyzed 6 weeks post VACV infection (p.i.; regression phase) by immunohistochemistry and mouse-specific expression arrays. Viral-mediated oncolysis was determined by tumor growth analysis combined with microscopic studies of intratumoral virus distribution. The tumor vasculature was morphologically characterized by diameter and density measurements and vessel functionality was analyzed by lectin perfusion and extravasation studies. Immunological aspects of viral-mediated tumor regression were studied in either immune-deficient mouse strains (T-, B-, NK-cell-deficient) or upon cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression (MHCII+-cell depletion) in nude mice.
Late stage VACV-infected breast tumors showed extensive necrosis, which was highly specific to cancer cells. The tumor vasculature in infected tumor areas remained functional and the endothelial cells were not infected. However, viral colonization triggers hyperpermeability and dilatation of the tumor vessels, which resembled the activated endothelium in wounded tissue. Moreover, we demonstrated an increased expression of genes involved in leukocyte-endothelial cell interaction in VACV-infected tumors, which orchestrate perivascular inflammatory cell infiltration. The immunohistochemical analysis of infected tumors displayed intense infiltration of MHCII-positive cells and colocalization of tumor vessels with MHCII+/CD31+ vascular leukocytes. However, GI-101A tumor growth analysis upon VACV-infection in either immunosuppressed nude mice (MHCII+-cell depleted) or in immune-deficient mouse strains (T-, B-, NK-cell-deficient) revealed that neither MHCII-positive immune cells nor T-, B-, or NK cells contributed significantly to VACV-mediated tumor regression. In contrast, tumors of immunosuppressed mice showed enhanced viral spreading and tumor necrosis.
Taken together, these results indicate that VACV-mediated oncolysis is the primary mechanism of tumor shrinkage in the late regression phase. Neither the destruction of the tumor vasculature nor the massive VACV-mediated intratumoral inflammation was a prerequisite for tumor regression. We propose that approaches to enhance viral replication and spread within the tumor microenvironment should improve therapeutical outcome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Signaling through the adaptor protein myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) promotes carcinogenesis in several cancer models. In contrast, MyD88 signaling has a protective role in the development of azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) colitis-associated cancer (CAC). The inability of Myd88(-/-) mice to heal ulcers generated upon injury creates an altered inflammatory environment that induces early alterations in expression of genes encoding proinflammatory factors, as well as pathways regulating cell proliferation, apoptosis, and DNA repair, resulting in a dramatic increase in adenoma formation and progression to infiltrating adenocarcinomas with frequent clonal mutations in the beta-catenin gene. Others have reported that toll-like receptor (Tlr) 4-deficient mice have a similar susceptibility to colitis to Myd88-deficient mice but, unlike the latter, are resistant to CAC. We have observed that mice deficient for Tlr2 or Il1r do not show a differential susceptibility to colitis or CAC. However, upon AOM/DSS treatment Il18(-/-) and Il18r1(-/-) mice were more susceptible to colitis and polyp formation than wild-type mice, suggesting that the phenotype of Myd88(-/-) mice is, in part, a result of their inability to signal through the IL-18 receptor. This study revealed a previously unknown level of complexity surrounding MyD88 activities downstream of different receptors that impact tissue homeostasis and carcinogenesis.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · Journal of Experimental Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a leading cause of cancer mortality for which novel gene therapy approaches relying on tumor-tropic adenoviruses are being tested.
We obtained the global transcriptional profiling of primary PDAC using RNA from eight xenografted primary PDAC, three primary PDAC bulk tissues, three chronic pancreatitis and three normal pancreatic tissues. The Affymetrix GeneChip HG-U133A was used. The results of the expression profiles were validated applying immunohistochemical and western blot analysis on a set of 34 primary PDAC and 10 established PDAC cell lines. Permissivity to viral vectors used for gene therapy, Adenovirus 5 and Adeno-Associated Viruses 5 and 6, was assessed on PDAC cell lines.
The analysis of the expression profiles allowed the identification of two clearly distinguishable phenotypes according to the expression of interferon-stimulated genes. The two phenotypes could be readily recognized by immunohistochemical detection of the Myxovirus-resistance A protein, whose expression reflects the activation of interferon dependent pathways. The two molecular phenotypes discovered in primary carcinomas were also observed among established pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines, suggesting that these phenotypes are an intrinsic characteristic of cancer cells independent of their interaction with the host's microenvironment. The two pancreatic cancer phenotypes are characterized by different permissivity to viral vectors used for gene therapy, as cell lines expressing interferon stimulated genes resisted to Adenovirus 5 mediated lysis in vitro. Similar results were observed when cells were transduced with Adeno-Associated Viruses 5 and 6.
Our study identified two molecular phenotypes of pancreatic cancer, characterized by a differential expression of interferon-stimulated genes and easily recognized by the expression of the Myxovirus-resistance A protein. We suggest that the detection of these two phenotypes might help the selection of patients enrolled in virally-mediated gene therapy trials.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · Journal of Translational Medicine