Publications by authors named "Alessia Pasqualato"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Paradoxical E-cadherin increase in 5FU-resistant colon cancer is unaffected during mesenchymal-epithelial reversion induced by γ-secretase inhibition.

Life Sci 2016 Jan 30;145:174-83. Epub 2015 Dec 30.

Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Systems Biology Group Lab, viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy; Systems Biology Group Lab, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Aim: Presenilin-1 (PS1), the main component of γ-secretase activity support a key role during Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and chemoresistance acquisition by triggering a complex sequence of molecular events, including E-cadherin down-regulation. However, we hypothesize that EMT and chemoresistance should be deemed separate processes in HCT-8 colon cancer cells.

Main Methods: HCT-8 and HCT-8FUres invasion was evaluated by trans-well assay. uPA activity was detected by zymography. Prostaglandin E2 levels were quantified using an ELISA kit. E-cadherin FL and CTF2, PS1, Notch1, Cyclin D1, COX2, SNAI1 and α-SMA expression were determined using Western blot technique. β-Catenin localization was observed by confocal microscopy. Cell apoptosis was evaluated by cytofluorimetric assay, and measurement of caspase-3 and cl-PARP. γ-Secretase activity was inhibited by DAPT, a γ-secretase inhibitor.

Key Findings: Chemoresistant HCT-8 underwent EMT that can be efficiently reversed by inhibiting PS1 activity, leading thus to a normalization of mostly of the pivotal features showed by the invasive cancer phenotype. Indeed, we observed decreased SNAI1 and Notch 1 activation, altogether with reduced E-cadherin cleavage. Concomitantly, resistant HCT-8 invasiveness was almost completely abolished. However, such reversion was not followed by any increase in apoptotic rate, not by changes in E-cadherin levels. Indeed, despite HCT-8FUres underwent an undeniable EMT, full-length E-cadherin levels were found remarkably higher than those observed in wild HCT-8.

Significance: High E-cadherin concentration in presence of enhanced γ-secretase activity is incontestably a paradoxically result, highlighting that E-cadherin loss is not a pre-requisite for EMT. Additionally, EMT and chemoresistance acquisition in HCT-8 should be considered as distinct processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2015.12.048DOI Listing
January 2016

Phenotypic switch induced by simulated microgravity on MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.

Biomed Res Int 2014 18;2014:652434. Epub 2014 Aug 18.

Department of Experimental Medicine, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Systems Biology Group, Viale Regina Elena 324, Via A. Scarpa 14, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Microgravity exerts dramatic effects on cell morphology and functions, by disrupting cytoskeleton and adhesion structures, as well as by interfering with biochemical pathways and gene expression. Impairment of cells behavior has both practical and theoretical significance, given that investigations of mechanisms involved in microgravity-mediated effects may shed light on how biophysical constraints cooperate in shaping complex living systems. By exposing breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells to simulated microgravity (~0.001 g), we observed the emergence of two morphological phenotypes, characterized by distinct membrane fractal values, surface area, and roundness. Moreover, the two phenotypes display different aggregation profiles and adherent behavior on the substrate. These morphological differences are mirrored by the concomitant dramatic functional changes in cell processes (proliferation and apoptosis) and signaling pathways (ERK, AKT, and Survivin). Furthermore, cytoskeleton undergoes a dramatic reorganization, eventually leading to a very different configuration between the two populations. These findings could be considered adaptive and reversible features, given that, by culturing microgravity-exposed cells into a normal gravity field, cells are enabled to recover their original phenotype. Overall these data outline the fundamental role gravity plays in shaping form and function in living systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/652434DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151603PMC
April 2015

Melatonin down-regulates MDM2 gene expression and enhances p53 acetylation in MCF-7 cells.

J Pineal Res 2014 Aug 10;57(1):120-9. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Department of Surgery "P. Valdoni", "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Compelling evidence demonstrated that melatonin increases p53 activity in cancer cells. p53 undergoes acetylation to be stabilized and activated for driving cells destined for apoptosis/growth inhibition. Over-expression of p300 induces p53 acetylation, leading to cell growth arrest by increasing p21 expression. In turn, p53 activation is mainly regulated in the nucleus by MDM2. MDM2 also acts as E3 ubiquitin ligase, promoting the proteasome-dependent p53 degradation. MDM2 entry into the nucleus is finely tuned by two different modulations: the ribosomal protein L11, acts by sequestering MDM2 in the cytosol, whereas the PI3K-AkT-dependent MDM2 phosphorylation is mandatory for MDM2 translocation across the nuclear membrane. In addition, MDM2-dependent targeting of p53 is regulated in a nonlinear fashion by MDM2/MDMX interplay. Melatonin induces both cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in MCF7 breast cancer cells. We previously reported that this effect is associated with reduced MDM2 levels and increased p53 activity. Herein, we demonstrated that melatonin drastically down-regulates MDM2 gene expression and inhibits MDM2 shuttling into the nucleus, given that melatonin increases L11 and inhibits Akt-PI3K-dependent MDM2 phosphorylation. Melatonin induces a 3-fold increase in both MDMX and p300 levels, decreasing simultaneously Sirt1, a specific inhibitor of p300 activity. Consequently, melatonin-treated cells display significantly higher values of both p53 and acetylated p53. Thus, a 15-fold increase in p21 levels was observed in melatonin-treated cancer cells. Our results provide evidence that melatonin enhances p53 acetylation by modulating the MDM2/MDMX/p300 pathway, disclosing new insights for understanding its anticancer effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpi.12150DOI Listing
August 2014

Microenvironment promotes tumor cell reprogramming in human breast cancer cell lines.

PLoS One 2013 30;8(12):e83770. Epub 2013 Dec 30.

Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy ; Italian Space Agency (ASI), Rome, Italy.

The microenvironment drives mammary gland development and function, and may influence significantly both malignant behavior and cell growth of mammary cancer cells. By restoring context, and forcing cells to properly interpret native signals from the microenvironment, the cancer cell aberrant behavior can be quelled, and organization re-established. In order to restore functional and morphological differentiation, human mammary MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells were allowed to grow in a culture medium filled with a 10% of the albumen (EW, Egg White) from unfertilized chicken egg. That unique microenvironment behaves akin a 3D culture and induces MCF-7 cells to produce acini and branching duct-like structures, distinctive of mammary gland differentiation. EW-treated MDA-MB-231 cells developed buds of acini and duct-like structures. Both MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells produced β-casein, a key milk component. Furthermore, E-cadherin expression was reactivated in MDA-MB-231 cells, as a consequence of the increased cdh1 expression; meanwhile β-catenin - a key cytoskeleton component - was displaced behind the inner cell membrane. Such modification hinders the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in MDA-MB-231 cells. This differentiating pathway is supported by the contemporary down-regulation of canonical pluripotency markers (Klf4, Nanog). Given that egg-conditioned medium behaves as a 3D-medium, it is likely that cancer phenotype reversion could be ascribed to the changed interactions between cells and their microenvironment.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0083770PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875474PMC
August 2014

Shape in migration: quantitative image analysis of migrating chemoresistant HCT-8 colon cancer cells.

Cell Adh Migr 2013 Sep-Oct;7(5):450-9. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Department of Experimental Medicine; "Sapienza" University of Rome; Roma, Italy.

Unsuccessful cytotoxic anticancer treatments may contribute to tumor morphologic instability and consequent tissue invasion, promoting the selection of a more malignant phenotype. Indeed, morphological changes have been demonstrated to be more pronounced in strongly vs. weakly metastatic cells. By means of normalized bending energy, we have previously quantitatively defined the link between cell shape modifications and the acquisition of a more malignant phenotype by 5-FU-resistant colon cancer cells (HCT-8FUres). Such changes were significantly correlated with an increase in motility speed. Herein, we propose a method to quantitatively analyze the shape of wild and chemoresistant HCT-8 migration front cells during wound healing assay. We evaluated the reliability of parameters (area/perimeter ratio [A/p], circularity, roundness, fractal dimension, and solidity) in describing the biological behavior of the two cell lines, enabling hence in distinguishing the chemoresistant line from the other one. We found solidity index the parameter that better described the difference between chemoresistant and wild cells. Moreover, solidity is able to capture the differences between chemoresistant and wild cells at each time point of the migration process. Indeed, motility speed was found to be inversely correlated with solidity, a quantitative index of cell deformability. Deformability is an outstanding hallmark of the process leading to metastatic spread; consequently, solidity may be considered a marker of acquired metastatic property.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cam.26765DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3903690PMC
September 2014

TCam-2 seminoma cells exposed to egg-derived microenvironment modify their shape, adhesive pattern and migratory behaviour: a molecular and morphometric analysis.

PLoS One 2013 1;8(10):e76192. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

Department of Anatomy, Histology, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedics - Section of Histology and Medical Embryology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Seminoma is one of the most common Testicular Germ Cell Tumours that originates during embryonic development due to an alteration of the local niche that in turn results in a delayed or blocked differentiation of Primordial Germ Cells. The block of differentiation is actually a common way to develop cancer disease as postulated by the "embryonic rest theory of cancer". In agreement with this theory different studies have demonstrated that embryonic cues display the capacity of reprogramming aggressive cancer cells towards a less aggressive phenotype. Herein we investigate the ability of a culture medium added with 10% egg albumen (EW, Egg White) to modulate seminoma cell phenotype and behaviour, by ensuring a proper set of morphogenetic signals. We chose to use the TCam-2 seminoma cell line that has been established as the only available cell line, obtained from a primary testicular seminoma. EW is able to: 1) modify TCam-2 cell spreading rate and cell-substrate adhesion without affecting proliferation and survival indexes; 2) modulate TCam-2 actin distribution pattern increasing cortical localization of actin filaments; 3) increase TCam-2 cell-cell junction capability; 4) decrease both chemo-sensitive and collective TCam-2 migratory behaviour. According to these observations morphometric fractal analysis revealed the ability of EW to increase Circularity and Solidity parameters and, consequently, to decrease Fractal dimension. Prompted by these observations we hypothesize that EW treatment could rescue, at least in part, the neoplastic-metastatic behaviour of seminoma cells.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0076192PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788130PMC
July 2014

Nicotine increases survival in human colon cancer cells treated with chemotherapeutic drugs.

Toxicol In Vitro 2013 Dec 2;27(8):2256-63. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazza Sassari 3, 00161 Rome, Italy; Department of Surgery "Pietro Valdoni", Sapienza University of Rome, Via Antonio Scarpa 14, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Cigarette smoking is implicated in the development of colon cancer. Furthermore, nicotine increases cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis through α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7-nAChR) activation in human colon carcinoma cells. An open issue is whether nicotine interfere with colorectal cancer pharmacological treatment, by inhibiting drug-mediated apoptosis. To assess this hypothesis, we evaluated nicotine effect on Caco-2 and HCT-8 colon cancer cells, treated with 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) and Camptothecin (CPT), chemotherapeutics commonly utilized as adjuvant treatment of colon cancer. Nicotine decreased anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects exerted by chemotherapeutics on both cell lines. These effects partially reverted by exposure to α-bungarotoxin (α-BTX), an inhibitor of α7-nAChR. Nicotine addition to Caco-2 and HCT-8, treated with 5-FU or CPT, decreased the cleavage of substrate of caspase 3 and 7, poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP). Moreover, P-ERK/ERK ratio was modified by nicotine addition to 5-FU and CPT treated cells in an opposite manner. However, when co-administrating PD98059, an ERK phosphorylation inhibitor, an increased apoptosis was observed. In Caco-2 and HCT-8 nicotine reverted 5-FU and CPT apoptotic effects through AKT phosphorylation, as demonstrated by apoptotic increase in presence of LY294002, an AKT phosphorylation inhibitor. Nicotine interfered with colorectal cancer pharmacological treatment in vitro by inhibiting apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic drugs. Nicotine anti-apoptotic effects were exerted through ERK and AKT pathway activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2013.09.020DOI Listing
December 2013

Grape seed extract suppresses MDA-MB231 breast cancer cell migration and invasion.

Eur J Nutr 2014 11;53(2):421-31. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, La Sapienza University, Piazza Sassari 3, 00161, Rome, Italy.

Background And Aim: Breast cancer remains a leading cause of mortality among women. In metastasis, cascade migration of cancer cells and invasion of extracellular matrix (ECM) represent critical steps. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), as well as metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9, strongly contribute to ECM remodelling, thus becoming associated with tumour migration and invasion. In addition, the high expression of cytoskeletal (CSK) proteins, as fascin, has been correlated with clinically aggressive metastatic tumours, and CSK proteins are thought to affect the migration of cancer cells. Consumption of fruits and vegetables, characterized by high procyanidin content, has been associated to a reduced mortality for breast cancer. Therefore, we investigated the biological effect of grape seed extract (GSE) on the highly metastatic MDA-MB231 breast cancer cell line, focusing on studying GSE ability in inhibiting two main metastatic processes, i.e., cell migration and invasion.

Methods: After MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells stimulated with GSE migration and invasion were evaluated by means of trans-well assays and uPA as well as MMPs activity was detected by gelatin zymography. Fascin, β-catenin and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) expression were determined using western blot technique. β-Catenin localization was observed by confocal microscopy.

Results: We observed that high concentrations of GSE inhibited cell proliferation and apoptosis. Conversely, low GSE concentration decreased cell migration and invasion, likely by hampering β-catenin expression and localization, fascin and NF-κB expression, as well as by decreasing the activity of uPA, MMP-2 and MMP-9.

Conclusions: These results make GSE a powerful candidate for developing preventive agents against cancer metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00394-013-0542-6DOI Listing
October 2014

Grape seed extract triggers apoptosis in Caco-2 human colon cancer cells through reactive oxygen species and calcium increase: extracellular signal-regulated kinase involvement.

Br J Nutr 2013 Sep 25;110(5):797-809. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Piazza Sassari 3, La Sapienza University, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Grape seed extract (GSE) from Italia, Palieri and Red Globe cultivars inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in Caco-2 human colon cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. In order to investigate the mechanism(s) supporting the apoptotic process, we analysed reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, intracellular Ca2+ handling and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation. Upon exposure to GSE, ROS and intracellular Ca2+ levels increased in Caco-2 cells, concomitantly with ERK inactivation. As ERK activity is thought to be essential for promoting survival pathways, inhibition of this kinase is likely to play a relevant role in GSE-mediated anticancer effects. Indeed, pretreatment with N-acetyl cysteine, a ROS scavenger, reversed GSE-induced apoptosis, and promoted ERK phosphorylation. This effect was strengthened by ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid-mediated inhibition of extracellular Ca2+ influx. ROS and Ca2+ influx inhibition, in turn, increased ERK phosphorylation, and hence almost entirely suppressed GSE-mediated apoptosis. These data suggested that GSE triggers a previously unrecognised ERK-based mechanism, involving both ROS production and intracellular Ca2+ increase, eventually leading to apoptosis in cancer cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512006095DOI Listing
September 2013

Nicotine stimulates proliferation and inhibits apoptosis in colon cancer cell lines through activation of survival pathways.

J Surg Res 2012 Nov 10;178(1):233-41. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

Department of Surgery Pietro Valdoni, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Background: Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death throughout the world, and the risk to develop this malignant disease seems to be associated with long-term cigarette smoking. Nicotine, one of the major components of cigarette smoking, can stimulate cell proliferation and suppress apoptosis both in normal cells and in several human cancer cell lines derived from various organs. However, although nicotine appears to have a role in stimulating cell proliferation of colon cancer cells, there is no information on its role in inhibiting apoptosis in these cells.

Materials And Methods: Human colorectal cancer cell lines Caco-2 and HCT-8 were treated with 1 μM nicotine alone or in combination with 1 μM α-BTX in complete or in serum free medium. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined by cell count performed with a cell counter and by cytofluorimetric assay respectively. PI3K/Akt and PKC/ERK1/2 pathways, survivin, and P-Bcl2 (Ser70) were investigated by Western blot analysis.

Results: Nicotine induced an increase in cell proliferation and a decrease of apoptosis in Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells. Both cell growth and apoptosis appear to be mediated by α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, since treatment with α-Bungarotoxin inhibited these processes. Nicotine induced a statistically significant increase in the expression of PI3K and in P-Akt/Akt ratio as well as in the expression of PKC, ERK1/2, survivin, and P-Bcl2 (Ser70) in both cell lines.

Conclusions: Nicotine, contained in cigarette smoking, could participate in colon cancer development and progression by stimulating cell proliferation and suppressing physiological apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2011.12.029DOI Listing
November 2012

Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects triggered by Grape Seed Extract (GSE) versus epigallocatechin and procyanidins on colon cancer cell lines.

Int J Mol Sci 2012 10;13(1):651-64. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Department of Experimental Medicine, "La Sapienza" University, Viale Regina Elena 324, Rome 00161, Italy; E-Mails: (S.D.); (S.P.); (E.L.).

Grape seed extract has been proven to exert anticancer effects on different tumors. These effects are mainly ascribed to catechin and procyanidin content. Analytical studies demonstrated that grape seed extract composition is complex and it is likely other components could exert biological activities. Using cell count and flow cytometry assays, we evaluated the cytostatic and apoptotic effects produced by three different grape seed extracts from Italia, Palieri and Red Globe cultivars, on Caco2 and HCT-8 colon cancer cells. These effects were compared to those induced by epigallocatechin and procyanidins, alone or in association, on the same cell lines. All the extracts induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in Caco2 and HCT-8 cells, along the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. On both cell lines, growth inhibition induced by Italia and Palieri grape seed extracts was significantly higher than that it has been recorded with epigallocatechin, procyanidins and their association. In Caco2 cells, the extract from Red Globe cultivar was less effective in inducing growth inhibition than procyanidins alone and in association with epigallocatechin, whereas, in HCT-8 cells, only the association of epigallocatechin and procyanidins triggers a significant proliferation decrease. On both cell lines, apoptosis induced by Italia, Palieri and Red Globe grape seed extracts was considerably higher than has been recorded with epigallocatechin, procyanidins and their association. These data support the hypothesis by which other compounds, present in the grape seed extracts, are likely to enhance the anticancer effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms13010651DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3269711PMC
February 2015

A systems biology approach to cancer: fractals, attractors, and nonlinear dynamics.

OMICS 2011 Mar 14;15(3):93-104. Epub 2011 Feb 14.

Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University, Roma, Italy.

Cancer begins to be recognized as a highly complex disease, and advanced knowledge of the carcinogenic process claims to be acquired by means of supragenomic strategies. Experimental data evidence that tumor emerges from disruption of tissue architecture, and it is therefore consequential that the tissue level should be considered the proper level of observation for carcinogenic studies. This paradigm shift imposes to move from a reductionistic to a systems biology approach. Indeed, cell phenotypes are emergent modes arising through collective nonlinear interactions among different cellular and microenvironmental components, generally described by a phase space diagram, where stable states (attractors) are embedded into a landscape model. Within this framework cell states and cell transitions are generally conceived as mainly specified by the gene-regulatory network. However, the system's dynamics cannot be reduced to only the integrated functioning of the genome-proteome network, and the cell-stroma interacting system must be taken into consideration in order to give a more reliable picture. As cell form represents the spatial geometric configuration shaped by an integrated set of cellular and environmental cues participating in biological functions control, it is conceivable that fractal-shape parameters could be considered as "omics" descriptors of the cell-stroma system. Within this framework it seems that function follows form, and not the other way around.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/omi.2010.0091DOI Listing
March 2011

Melatonin and vitamin D3 synergistically down-regulate Akt and MDM2 leading to TGFβ-1-dependent growth inhibition of breast cancer cells.

J Pineal Res 2011 Mar 22;50(2):150-8. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Department of Experimental Medicine, University La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.

Melatonin and vitamin D3 inhibit breast cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis, but they have never been combined as a breast cancer treatment. Therefore, we investigated whether their association could lead to an enhanced anticancer activity. In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, melatonin together with vitamin D3, induced a synergistic proliferative inhibition, with an almost complete cell growth arrest at 144 hr. Cell growth blockade is associated to an activation of the TGFβ-1 pathway, leading to increased TGFβ-1, Smad4 and phosphorylated-Smad3 levels. Concomitantly, melatonin and D3, alone or in combination, caused a significant reduction in Akt phosphorylation and MDM2 values, with a consequent increase of p53/MDM2 ratio. These effects were completely suppressed by adding a monoclonal anti-TGFβ-1 antibody to the culture medium. Taken together, these results indicate that cytostatic effects triggered by melatonin and D3 are likely related to a complex TGFβ-1-dependent mechanism, involving down-regulation of both MDM2 and Akt-phosphorylation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-079X.2010.00824.xDOI Listing
March 2011

Apoptosis-inducing factor and caspase-dependent apoptotic pathways triggered by different grape seed extracts on human colon cancer cell line Caco-2.

Br J Nutr 2010 Sep 14;104(6):824-32. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University, Viale Regina Elena 324, Roma, Italy.

Consumption of grape seed extract (GSE) is widely marketed as a dietary supplement and is considered safe for human health. Nevertheless, the analytical composition of GSE from different grape cultivars, growing in special agronomic constraints, differs greatly in flavan-3-ols content. The major concern with GSE studies is a lack of availability of uniformly standardised preparations, which raises an important question whether different GSE samples have comparable activity and trigger the same mechanisms of action on a given biological system. Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that GSE, obtained from different cultivars, could exert differentiated anticancer effects. The focus of the present study is to determine the selective biological efficacy of GSE obtained from three different sources on the human colon cancer cell line Caco-2. Irrespective of its source, high doses of GSE induced a significant inhibition on Caco-2 cell growth. Moreover, apoptosis was enhanced through both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent mechanisms, leading to an early apoptosis-inducing factor release and, further, to a dramatic increase in caspase 7 and 3 activity. However, a significant difference in apoptotic rates induced by the three grape sources clearly emerged when treating cancer cells with low and intermediate GSE concentrations (25 and 50 microg/ml).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114510001522DOI Listing
September 2010

Metabolism and cell shape in cancer: a fractal analysis.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2011 Jul 10;43(7):1052-8. Epub 2010 May 10.

ASI, Italian Space Agency, Roma, Italy.

Fractal analysis in cancer cell investigation provided meaningful insights into the relationship between morphology and phenotype. Some reports demonstrated that changes in cell shape precede and trigger dramatic modifications in both gene expression and enzymatic function. Nonetheless, metabolomic pattern in cells undergoing shape changes have been not still reported. Our study was aimed to investigate if modifications in cancer cell morphology are associated to relevant transition in tumour metabolome, analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and principal component analysis. MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, exposed to an experimental morphogenetic field, undergo a dramatic change in their membrane profiles. Both cell lines recover a more rounded shape, loosing spindle and invasive protrusions, acquiring a quite "normal" morphology. This result, quantified by fractal analysis, shows that normalized bending energy (a global shape characterization expressing the amount of energy needed to transform a specific shape into its lowest energy state) decreases after 48 h. Later on, a significant shift from a high to a low glycolytic phenotype was observed on both cell lines: glucose flux begins to drop off at 48 h, leading to reduced lactate accumulation, and fatty acids and citrate synthesis slow-down after 72 h. Moreover, de novo lipidogenesis is inhibited and nucleotide synthesis is reduced, as indicated by the positive correlation between glucose and formate. In conclusion, these data indicate that the reorganization of cell membrane architecture, induced by environmental cues, is followed by a relevant transition of the tumour metabolome, suggesting cells undergo a dramatic phenotypic reversion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocel.2010.05.002DOI Listing
July 2011

Changes in Presenilin 1 gene methylation pattern in diet-induced B vitamin deficiency.

Neurobiol Aging 2011 Feb 28;32(2):187-99. Epub 2009 Mar 28.

Dept. of Surgery "P. Valdoni", Sapienza Università di Roma, Via Antonio Scarpa, 14 - 00161, Roma, Italy.

We have previously shown that a nutritional model of B vitamin deficiency and homocysteine cycle alteration could lead to increased amyloid β deposition, due to PSEN1 and BACE over-expression and consequent increase in secretase activity. We hypothesize that nutritional factors causing homocysteine cycle alterations (i.e. hyperhomocysteinemia) could induce sequence-specific DNA hypomethylation and "aberrant" gene activation. Aim of present study was to analyze the methylation pattern of PSEN1 promoter in SK-N-BE neuroblastoma cells and TgCRND8 mice, in a B vitamin (folate, B12 and B6) deficiency paradigm. PSEN1 methylation status has been evaluated through bisulphite modification and genomic sequencing. We demonstrate that B vitamin deficiency induces hypomethylation of specific CpG moieties in the 5'-flanking region; S-adenosylmethionine has been supplemented as methyl donor to reverse this effect. PSEN1 promoter methylation status is correlated with gene expression. These findings pinpoint a direct relationship between B vitamin-dependent alteration of homocysteine cycle and DNA methylation and also indicate that PSEN1 promoter is regulated by methylation of specific CpG moieties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.02.013DOI Listing
February 2011