Publications by authors named "Anna Teti"

94 Publications

Improvement of the skeletal phenotype in a mouse model of diastrophic dysplasia after postnatal treatment with N-acetylcysteine.

Biochem Pharmacol 2021 Mar 3;185:114452. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Unit of Biochemistry, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy. Electronic address:

Diastrophic dysplasia (DTD) is a recessive chondrodysplasia caused by mutations in the SLC26A2 gene encoding for a sulfate/chloride transporter. When SLC26A2 is impaired intracellular level of sulfate is reduced leading to the synthesis of undersulfated proteoglycans. In normal chondrocytes, the main source of intracellular sulfate is the extracellular uptake through SLC26A2, but a small amount comes from the catabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids and other thiols. Here N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an extensively used drug, is proposed as alternative source of intracellular sulfate in an animal model of DTD (dtd mouse). Mutant and wild type mice were treated twice a day with hypodermic injections of 250 mg NAC/kg body weight for one week after birth. At the end of the treatment, an improvement trend in cartilage proteoglycan sulfation and in the skeletal phenotype of treated dtd mice were observed. Thus, a longer treatment lasted three weeks starting from birth was performed. Treated mutant mice showed a significant increase of cartilage proteoglycan sulfation and a relevant improvement of the skeletal phenotype based on measurements of several bony elements and bone quality by DEXA and micro CT. Moreover, the amelioration of the overall growth plate morphology in treated dtd mice suggested a partial rescue of the endochondral ossification process. Overall, the results prove that NAC is an effective source of intracellular sulfate for dtd mice in the postnatal period. This finding paves the way for a potential pharmacological treatment of DTD patients taking advantage from a drug repositioning strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2021.114452DOI Listing
March 2021

Transcriptomic and bioinformatic analysis of Clcn7-dependent Autosomal Dominant Osteopetrosis type 2. Preclinical and clinical implications.

Bone 2021 Mar 28;144:115828. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Autosomal Dominant Osteopetrosis type 2 (ADO2) is a rare genetic disease characterized by dense yet fragile bones. To date, the radiological approach remains the gold standard for ADO2 diagnosis. However, recent observations unveiled that ADO2 is a systemic disease affecting various organs beyond bone, including lung, kidney, muscle, and brain. Monitoring disease status and progression would greatly benefit from specific biomarkers shared by the affected organs. In this work, data derived from RNA deep sequencing (RNA dSeq) of bone, lung, kidney, muscle, brain, and osteoclasts isolated from wildtype (WT) and Clcn7 ADO2 mice were subjected to gene ontology and pathway analyses. Results showed the presence of alterations in gene ontology terms and pathways associated with bone metabolism and osteoclast biology, including JAK-STAT, cytokine-cytokine receptor, and hematopoietic cell lineage. Furthermore, in line with the multiorgan alterations caused by ADO2, the analysis of soft organs showed an enrichment of PPAR and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathways known to be involved in the onset of tissue fibrosis and behavioral alterations, respectively. Finally, we observed the modulations of potential ADO2 biomarkers in organs and cells of ADO2 mice and in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients, using conventional methods. Of note, some of these biomarkers could be possibly responsive to an effective experimental therapy based on a mutation-specific siRNA. Overall, the identified gene signature and the soluble forms of the encoded proteins could potentially represent reliable disease biomarkers that could improve the ADO2 diagnosis, the monitoring of both the skeletal and non-skeletal dysfunctions, and the assessment of the response to therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2020.115828DOI Listing
March 2021

The role of apoptosis associated speck-like protein containing a caspase-1 recruitment domain (ASC) in response to bone substitutes.

Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 2020 Jul 13;112:110965. Epub 2020 Apr 13.

UNESP - São Paulo State University, Institute of Biosciences of Botucatu, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Botucatu, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address:

The apoptosis-associated Speck-like protein containing a caspase-1 recruitment domain (ASC), present in inflammasomes, regulates inflammation events and is involved in osteogenic phenotype. Nevertheless, its function in bone repair induced by bone substitute biomaterials is unclear. This study aimed to unveil the role of ASC on osteoprogenitor and tissue response to stoichiometric-hydroxyapatite (HA), nanostructured carbonated-hydroxyapatite (CHA), and CHA containing 5% Strontium (SrCHA), characterized previously by XRD, uXRF-SR, and FTIR spectroscopy implants. Thereafter, conditioned media by the biomaterials were used later to treat pre-osteoblasts and an osteogenic stimulus was shown in response to the materials, with higher expression of Runx2, Osterix, ALP, and Collagen 1a1 genes, with significant involvement of inflammatory-related genes. Thus, to better address the involvement of inflammasome, primary cells obtained from both genotypes [Wild-Type (WT) and ASC Knockout (ASC-KO) mice] were subjected to conditioned media up to 7 days, and our data reinforces both HA and CHA induces lower levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) than SrCHA, considering both genotypes (p < 0.01), and ASC seems contribute with osteogenic stimulus promoted by SrCHA. Complimentarily, the biomaterials were implanted into both subcutaneous and bone defects in tibia. Histological analysis on 28 days after implantation of biomaterials into mice's subcutaneous tissue revealed moderate inflammatory response to them. Both histomorphometry and μCT analysis of tibias indicated that the biomaterials did not reverse the delay in bone repair of ASC KO, reinforcing the involvement of ASC on bone regeneration and bone de novo deposition. Also, the bone density in CHA was >2-fold higher in WT than ASC-KO samples. HA was virtually not resorbed throughout the experimental periods, in opposition to CHA in the WT group. CHA reduced to half-area after 28 days, and the bone deposition was higher in CHA for WT mice than HA. Taken together, our results show that biomaterials did not interfere with the healing pattern of the ASC KO, but CHA promoted higher bone deposition in the WT group, probably due to its greater biodegradability. These results reinforce the importance of ASC during bone de novo deposition and healing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2020.110965DOI Listing
July 2020

CRELD2 Is a Novel LRP1 Chaperone That Regulates Noncanonical WNT Signaling in Skeletal Development.

J Bone Miner Res 2020 08 9;35(8):1452-1469. Epub 2020 Apr 9.

Biosciences Institute, Newcastle University, International Centre for Life, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.

Cysteine-rich with epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domains 2 (CRELD2) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident chaperone highly activated under ER stress in conditions such as chondrodysplasias; however, its role in healthy skeletal development is unknown. We show for the first time that cartilage-specific deletion of Creld2 results in disrupted endochondral ossification and short limbed dwarfism, whereas deletion of Creld2 in bone results in osteopenia, with a low bone density and altered trabecular architecture. Our study provides the first evidence that CRELD2 promotes the differentiation and maturation of skeletal cells by modulating noncanonical WNT4 signaling regulated by p38 MAPK. Furthermore, we show that CRELD2 is a novel chaperone for the receptor low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1), promoting its transport to the cell surface, and that LRP1 directly regulates WNT4 expression in chondrocytes through TGF-β1 signaling. Therefore, our data provide a novel link between an ER-resident chaperone and the essential WNT signaling pathways active during skeletal differentiation that could be applicable in other WNT-responsive tissues. © 2020 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published by American Society for Bone and Mineral Research..
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.4010DOI Listing
August 2020

Extracellular Vesicles From Osteotropic Breast Cancer Cells Affect Bone Resident Cells.

J Bone Miner Res 2020 02 5;35(2):396-412. Epub 2019 Nov 5.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are emerging as mediators of a range of pathological processes, including cancer. However, their role in bone metastases has been poorly explored. We investigated EV-mediated effects of osteotropic breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) on bone resident cells and endothelial cells. Pretreatment of osteoblasts with conditioned medium (CM) of MDA-MB-231 (MDA) cells promoted pro-osteoclastogenic and pro-angiogenic effects by osteoblast EVs (OB-EVs), as well as an increase of RANKL-positive OB-EVs. Moreover, when treating osteoblasts with MDA-EVs, we observed a reduction of their number, metabolic activity, and alkaline phosphatase (Alp) activity. MDA-EVs also reduced transcription of Cyclin D1 and of the osteoblast-differentiating genes, while enhancing the expression of the pro-osteoclastogenic factors Rankl, Lcn2, Il1b, and Il6. Interestingly, a cytokine array on CM from osteoblasts treated with MDA-EVs showed an increase of the cytokines CCL3, CXCL2, Reg3G, and VEGF, while OPG and WISP1 were downregulated. MDA-EVs contained mRNAs of genes involved in bone metabolism, as well as cytokines, including PDGF-BB, CCL3, CCL27, VEGF, and Angiopoietin 2. In line with this profile, MDA-EVs increased osteoclastogenesis and in vivo angiogenesis. Finally, intraperitoneal injection of MDA-EVs in mice revealed their ability to reach the bone microenvironment and be integrated by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. In conclusion, we showed a role for osteoblast-derived EVs and tumor cell-derived EVs in the deregulation of bone and endothelial cell physiology, thus fueling the vicious cycle induced by bone tumors. © 2019 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3891DOI Listing
February 2020

Macrophage-Derived Extracellular Vesicles as Carriers of Alarmins and Their Potential Involvement in Bone Homeostasis.

Front Immunol 2019 8;10:1901. Epub 2019 Aug 8.

Experimental Rheumatology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Extracellular vesicles are a heterogeneous group of cell-derived membranous structures, which facilitate intercellular communication. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of extracellular vesicles in bone homeostasis, as mediators of crosstalk between different bone-resident cells. Osteoblasts and osteoclasts are capable of releasing various types of extracellular vesicles that promote both osteogenesis, as well as, osteoclastogenesis, maintaining bone homeostasis. However, the contribution of immune cell-derived extracellular vesicles in bone homeostasis remains largely unknown. Recent proteomic studies showed that alarmins are abundantly present in/on macrophage-derived EVs. In this review we will describe these alarmins in the context of bone matrix regulation and discuss the potential contribution macrophage-derived EVs may have in this process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01901DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694442PMC
September 2020

Functional polymorphisms within the inflammatory pathway regulate expression of extracellular matrix components in a genetic risk dependent model for anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

J Sci Med Sport 2019 Nov 29;22(11):1219-1225. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Electronic address:

Objectives: To investigate the functional effect of genetic polymorphisms of the inflammatory pathway on structural extracellular matrix components (ECM) and the susceptibility to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Design: Laboratory study, case-control study.

Methods: Eight healthy participants were genotyped for interleukin (IL)1B rs16944 C>T and IL6 rs1800795 G>C and classified into genetic risk profile groups. Differences in type I collagen (COL1A1), type V collagen (COL5A1), biglycan (BGN) and decorin (DCN) gene expression were measured in fibroblasts either unstimulated or following IL-1β, IL-6 or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α treatment. Moreover, a genetic association study was conducted in: (i) a Swedish cohort comprised of 116 asymptomatic controls (CON) and 79 ACL ruptures and (ii) a South African cohort of 100 CONs and 98 ACLs. Participants were genotyped for COL5A1 rs12722 C>T, IL1B rs16944 C>T, IL6 rs1800795 G>C and IL6R rs2228145 G>C.

Results: IL1B high-risk fibroblasts had decreased BGN (p=0.020) and COL5A1 (p=0.012) levels after IL-1β stimulation and expressed less COL5A1 (p=0.042) following TNF-α treatment. Similarly, unstimulated IL6 high-risk fibroblasts had lower COL5A1 (p=0.012) levels than IL6 low-risk fibroblasts. In the genetic association study, the COL5A1-IL1B-IL6 T-C-G (p=0.034, Haplo-score 2.1) and the COL5A1-IL1B-IL6R T-C-A (p=0.044, Haplo-score: 2.0) combinations were associated with an increased susceptibility to ACL injury in the Swedish cohort when only male participants were evaluated.

Conclusions: This study shows that polymorphisms within genes of the inflammatory pathway modulate the expression of structural and fibril-associated ECM components in a genetic risk depended manner, contributing to an increased susceptibility to ACL injuries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2019.07.012DOI Listing
November 2019

Immune Function and Diversity of Osteoclasts in Normal and Pathological Conditions.

Front Immunol 2019 19;10:1408. Epub 2019 Jun 19.

CNRS, Laboratoire de PhysioMédecine Moléculaire, Faculté de Médecine, UMR7370, Nice, France.

Osteoclasts (OCLs) are key players in controlling bone remodeling. Modifications in their differentiation or bone resorbing activity are associated with a number of pathologies ranging from osteopetrosis to osteoporosis, chronic inflammation and cancer, that are all characterized by immunological alterations. Therefore, the 2000s were marked by the emergence of osteoimmunology and by a growing number of studies focused on the control of OCL differentiation and function by the immune system. At the same time, it was discovered that OCLs are much more than bone resorbing cells. As monocytic lineage-derived cells, they belong to a family of cells that displays a wide heterogeneity and plasticity and that is involved in phagocytosis and innate immune responses. However, while OCLs have been extensively studied for their bone resorption capacity, their implication as immune cells was neglected for a long time. In recent years, new evidence pointed out that OCLs play important roles in the modulation of immune responses toward immune suppression or inflammation. They unlocked their capacity to modulate T cell activation, to efficiently process and present antigens as well as their ability to activate T cell responses in an antigen-dependent manner. Moreover, similar to other monocytic lineage cells such as macrophages, monocytes and dendritic cells, OCLs display a phenotypic and functional plasticity participating to their anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory effect depending on their cell origin and environment. This review will address this novel vision of the OCL, not only as a phagocyte specialized in bone resorption, but also as innate immune cell participating in the control of immune responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01408DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6594198PMC
September 2020

Notch2 pathway mediates breast cancer cellular dormancy and mobilisation in bone and contributes to haematopoietic stem cell mimicry.

Br J Cancer 2019 07 26;121(2):157-171. Epub 2019 Jun 26.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila Via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100, L'Aquila, Italy.

Background: Recurrence after >5-year disease-free survival affects one-fifth of breast cancer patients and is the clinical manifestation of cancer cell reactivation after persistent dormancy.

Methods: We investigated cellular dormancy in vitro and in vivo using breast cancer cell lines and cell and molecular biology techniques.

Results: We demonstrated cellular dormancy in breast cancer bone metastasis, associated with haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) mimicry, in vivo competition for HSC engraftment and non-random distribution of dormant cells at the endosteal niche. Notch2 signal implication was demonstrated by immunophenotyping the endosteal niche-associated cancer cells and upon co-culture with sorted endosteal niche cells, which inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation in a Notch2-dependent manner. Blocking this signal by in vivo acute administration of the γ-secretase inhibitor, dibenzazepine, induced dormant cell mobilisation from the endosteal niche and colonisation of visceral organs. Sorted Notch2 breast cancer cells exhibited a unique stem phenotype similar to HSCs and in vitro tumour-initiating ability in mammosphere assay. Human samples confirmed the existence of a small Notch2 cell population in primary and bone metastatic breast cancers, with a survival advantage for Notch2 vs Notch2 patients.

Conclusions: Notch2 represents a key determinant of breast cancer cellular dormancy and mobilisation in the bone microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-019-0501-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738045PMC
July 2019

Extra-skeletal manifestations in mice affected by -dependent autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type 2 clinical and therapeutic implications.

Bone Res 2019 11;7:17. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

1Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type 2 (ADO2) is a high-density brittle bone disease characterized by bone pain, multiple fractures and skeletal-related events, including nerve compression syndrome and hematological failure. We demonstrated that in mice carrying the heterozygous mutation, whose human mutant homolog affects patients, the clinical impacts of ADO2 extend beyond the skeleton, affecting several other organs. The hallmark of the extra-skeletal alterations is a consistent perivascular fibrosis, associated with high numbers of macrophages and lymphoid infiltrates. Fragmented clinical information in a small cohort of patients confirms extra-skeletal alterations consistent with a systemic disease, in line with the observation that the gene is expressed in many organs. ADO2 mice also show anxiety and depression and their brains exhibit not only perivascular fibrosis but also β-amyloid accumulation and astrogliosis, suggesting the involvement of the nervous system in the pathogenesis of the ADO2 extra-skeletal alterations. Extra-skeletal organs share a similar cellular pathology, confirmed also in vitro in bone marrow mononuclear cells and osteoclasts, characterized by an impairment of the exit pathway of the protein product, ClC7, through the Golgi, with consequent reduced ClC7 expression in late endosomes and lysosomes, associated with high vesicular pH and accumulation of autophagosome markers. Finally, an experimental siRNA therapy, previously proven to counteract the bone phenotype, also improves the extra-skeletal alterations. These results could have important clinical implications, supporting the notion that a systematic evaluation of ADO2 patients for extra-skeletal symptoms could help improve their diagnosis, clinical management, and therapeutic options.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41413-019-0055-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6559989PMC
June 2019

Testing the Cre-mediated genetic switch for the generation of conditional knock-in mice.

PLoS One 2019 13;14(3):e0213660. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Unit of Biochemistry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

The Cre-mediated genetic switch combines the ability of Cre recombinase to stably invert or excise a DNA fragment depending upon the orientation of flanking mutant loxP sites. In this work, we have tested this strategy in vivo with the aim to generate two conditional knock-in mice for missense mutations in the Impad1 and Clcn7 genes causing two different skeletal dysplasias. Targeting constructs were generated in which the Impad1 exon 2 and an inverted exon 2* and the Clcn7 exon 7 and an inverted exon 7* containing the point mutations were flanked by mutant loxP sites in a head-to-head orientation. When the Cre recombinase is present, the DNA flanked by the mutant loxP sites is expected to be stably inverted leading to the activation of the mutated exon. The targeting vectors were used to generate heterozygous floxed mice in which inversion of the wild-type with the mutant exon has not occurred yet. To generate knock-in mice, floxed animals were mated to a global Cre-deleter mouse strain for stable inversion and activation of the mutation. Unexpectedly the phenotype of homozygous Impad1 knock-in animals overlaps with the lethal phenotype described previously in Impad1 knock-out mice. Similarly, the phenotype of homozygous Clcn7 floxed mice overlaps with Clcn7 knock-out mice. Expression studies by qPCR and RT-PCR demonstrated that mutant mRNA underwent abnormal splicing leading to the synthesis of non-functional proteins. Thus, the skeletal phenotypes in both murine strains were not caused by the missense mutations, but by aberrant splicing. Our data demonstrate that the Cre mediated genetic switch strategy should be considered cautiously for the generation of conditional knock-in mice.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0213660PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6415906PMC
December 2019

Isolation and Generation of Osteoclasts.

Methods Mol Biol 2019 ;1914:3-19

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

This chapter describes the isolation, culture, and staining of osteoclasts. The key advantages of this assay are that it allows direct measurement of osteoclast number, bone resorption, as well as yielding good quantities of osteoclasts at defined stages of formation for molecular analysis. An additional focus of this chapter will be the generation of osteoclasts from less conventional animal species and cell lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-8997-3_1DOI Listing
June 2019

Osteoblasts Regulate Angiogenesis in Response to Mechanical Unloading.

Calcif Tissue Int 2019 03 21;104(3):344-354. Epub 2018 Nov 21.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100, L'aquila, Italy.

During mechanical unloading, endothelial cells reduce osteogenesis and increase bone resorption. Here we describe the feedback response of endothelial cells to unloaded osteoblasts. Primary endothelial cells, ex vivo mouse aortic rings and chicken egg yolk membranes were incubated with conditioned medium from mouse primary osteoblasts (OB-CM) subjected to unit gravity or simulated microgravity, to assess its effect on angiogenesis. In vivo injection of botulin toxin A (Botox) in the quadriceps and calf muscles of C57BL/6J mice was performed to mimic disuse osteoporosis. Unloaded osteoblasts showed strong upregulation of the pro-angiogenic factor, VEGF, and their conditioned medium increased in vitro endothelial cell viability, Cyclin D1 expression, migration and tube formation, ex vivo endothelial cell sprouting from aortic rings, and in ovo angiogenesis. Treatment with the VEGF blocker, avastin, prevented unloaded OB-CM-mediated in vitro and ex vivo enhancement of angiogenesis. Bone mechanical unloading by Botox treatment, known to reduce bone mass, prompted the overexpression of VEGF in osteoblasts. The cross talk between osteoblasts and endothelial cells plays a pathophysiologic role in the response of the endothelium to unloading during disuse osteoporosis. In this context, VEGF represents a prominent osteoblast factor stimulating angiogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00223-018-0496-zDOI Listing
March 2019

Apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase-1 recruitment domain (ASC) contributes to osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis.

J Cell Physiol 2019 04 31;234(4):4140-4153. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Laboratório de Bioensaios e Dinâmica Celular, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Bioscience Institute, Universidade Estadual Paulista, UNESP, campus Botucatu, Rubião Junior, Botucatu, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The role of apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase-1 recruitment domain (ASC) in bone healing remains to be understood. To address this issue, we investigated the requirement of inflammasome-related genes in response to bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7)-induced osteoblast differentiation in vitro. To validate the importance of ASC on osteogenesis, we subjected wild-type (WT) and ASC knockout C57BL/6 mice (ASC KO) to tibia defect to evaluate the bone healing process (up to 28 days). Our in vitro data showed that there is an involvement of ASC during BMP7-induced osteoblast differentiation, concomitant to osteogenic biomarker expression. Indeed, primary osteogenic cells from ASC KO presented a lower osteogenic profile than those obtained from WT mice. To validate this hypothesis, we evaluated the bone healing process of tibia defects on both WT and ASC KO mice genotypes and the ASC KO mice were not able to fully heal tibia defects up to 28 days, whereas WT tibia defects presented a higher bone de novo volume at this stage, evidencing ASC as an important molecule during osteogenic phenotype. In addition, we have shown a higher involvement of runt-related transcription factor 2 in WT sections during bone repair, as well as circulating bone alkaline phosphatase isoform when both were compared with ASC KO mice behavior. Altogether, our results showed for the first time the involvement of inflammasome during osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis, which opens new avenues to understand the pathways involved in bone healing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcp.27226DOI Listing
April 2019

Congenital disorders of bone and blood.

Bone 2019 02 6;119:71-81. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

Department of Medicine, Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA; Department of Pathology and Immunology, Division of Anatomic and Molecular Pathology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Bone and marrow are the two facets of the same organ, in which bone and hematopoietic cells coexist and interact. Marrow and skeletal tissue influence each-other and a variety of genetic disorders directly targets both of them, which may result in combined hematopoietic failure and skeletal malformations. Other conditions primarily affect one organ with secondary influences on the other. For instance, various forms of congenital anemias reduce bone mass and induce osteoporosis, while osteoclast failure in osteopetrosis prevents marrow development reducing medullary cavities and causing anemia and pancytopenia. Understanding the pathophysiology of these conditions may facilitate diagnosis and management, although many disorders are presently incurable. This article describes several congenital bone diseases and their relationship to hematopoietic tissue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2018.03.002DOI Listing
February 2019

RNA interference therapy for autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type 2. Towards the preclinical development.

Bone 2018 05 6;110:343-354. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Autosomal Dominant Osteopetrosis type 2 (ADO2) is a rare bone disease characterized by dense and brittle bones due to impairment of osteoclast bone resorption. Dominant negative mutations of the CLCN7 gene affect about 70% of ADO2 patients. ADO2 has no cure and our recent work established that it is suitable for gene silencing by a specific small interfering RNA that does not affect the normal mRNA, thus inducing a condition of pseudo-haplosufficiency and rescuing the bone phenotype. We performed a systematic study to test the likelihood that the therapy could progress towards clinical trials, treating Clcn7 ADO2 mice with Clcn7-specific siRNA and investigating the bone phenotype by μCT and histomorphometry, and safety, by histopathology and serology. We demonstrated that our Clcn7 siRNA is not only effective in pre-pubertal ADO2 male mice as we showed in our previous study, but also in adult and ageing mice, in males and females, by intraperitoneal and subcutaneous administration. Furthermore, the study also showed safety following prolonged chronic administration and allowed us to identify specific end-points to be potentially used in clinical trials. These results may pave the way towards regulatory toxicity studies, through which the therapy, that is patent-protected, can obtain approval from public health authorities for the transition to the Phase I/II clinical trials. The study also suggests that similar strategies could be applied to other autosomal dominant bone diseases, opening an avenue for a wider use of the RNA interference therapy in rare genetic disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2018.02.031DOI Listing
May 2018

A Complex Role for Lipocalin 2 in Bone Metabolism: Global Ablation in Mice Induces Osteopenia Caused by an Altered Energy Metabolism.

J Bone Miner Res 2018 06 24;33(6):1141-1153. Epub 2018 Mar 24.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2) is an adipokine that carries out a variety of functions in diverse organs. We investigated the bone phenotype and the energy metabolism of Lcn2 globally deleted mice (Lcn2 ) at different ages. Lcn2 mice were largely osteopenic, exhibiting lower trabecular bone volume, lesser trabecular number, and higher trabecular separation when compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Lcn2 mice showed a lower osteoblast number and surface over bone surface, and subsequently a significantly lower bone formation rate, while osteoclast variables were unremarkable. Surprisingly, we found no difference in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity or in nodule mineralization in Lcn2 calvaria osteoblast cultures, while less ALP-positive colonies were obtained from freshly isolated Lcn2 bone marrow stromal cells, suggesting a nonautonomous osteoblast response to Lcn2 ablation. Given that Lcn2 mice showed higher body weight and hyperphagia, we investigated whether their osteoblast impairment could be due to altered energy metabolism. Lcn2 mice showed lower fasted glycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Consistently, glucose tolerance was significantly higher in Lcn2 compared to WT mice, while insulin tolerance was similar. Lcn2 mice also exhibited polyuria, glycosuria, proteinuria, and renal cortex vacuolization, suggesting a kidney contribution to their phenotype. Interestingly, the expression of the glucose transporter protein type 1, that conveys glucose into the osteoblasts and is essential for osteogenesis, was significantly lower in the Lcn2 bone, possibly explaining the in vivo osteoblast impairment induced by the global Lcn2 ablation. Taken together, these results unveil an important role of Lcn2 in bone metabolism, highlighting a link with glucose metabolism that is more complex than expected from the current knowledge. © 2018 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3406DOI Listing
June 2018

Osteomimicry: How the Seed Grows in the Soil.

Calcif Tissue Int 2018 02 16;102(2):131-140. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100, L'Aquila, Italy.

Metastasis is defined as a very inefficient process, since less than 0.01% of cancer cells injected into the circulation will engraft in a distant organ, where they must acquire the ability to survive and proliferate inside a "foreign" environment. In bone metastases, the interaction with the host organ is much more favoured if tumour cells gain "osteomimicry", that is the ability to resemble a resident bone cell (i.e. the osteoblast), thus intruding in the physiology of the bone. This is accomplished by the expression of osteoblast markers (e.g. alkaline phosphatase) and the production of bone matrix proteins and paracrine factors which deregulate the physiology of bone, fuelling the so-called "vicious cycle". The main challenge of researchers is therefore to identify the genetic profile determining the osteotropism of tumour cells, which would eventually lead to bone colonisation. This could likely provide the answer to a quite intriguing question, that is why some cancers, such as prostate and breast, have a specific predilection to metastasise to the bone. Therefore, it is important to completely address the molecular mechanisms underlying this aspect of bone oncology, identifying relevant pathways, the targeting of which could make any type of bone metastasis curable or avoidable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00223-017-0365-1DOI Listing
February 2018

Osteoblast-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Are Biological Tools for the Delivery of Active Molecules to Bone.

J Bone Miner Res 2018 03 11;33(3):517-533. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are newly appreciated regulators of tissue homeostasis and a means of intercellular communication. Reports have investigated the role of EVs and their cargoes in cellular regulation and have tried to fine-tune their biotechnological use, but to date very little is known on their function in bone biology. To investigate the relevance of EV-mediated communication between bone cells, we isolated EVs from primary mouse osteoblasts and assessed membrane integrity, size, and structure by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). EVs actively shuttled loaded fluorochromes to osteoblasts, monocytes, and endothelial cells. Moreover, osteoblast EVs contained mRNAs shared with donor cells. Osteoblasts are known to regulate osteoclastogenesis, osteoclast survival, and osteoclast function by the pro-osteoclastic cytokine, receptor activator of nuclear factor κ-B ligand (Rankl). Osteoblast EVs were enriched in Rankl, which increased after PTH treatment. These EVs were biologically active, supporting osteoclast survival. EVs isolated from rankl osteoblasts lost this pro-osteoclastic function, indicating its Rankl-dependence. They integrated ex vivo into murine calvariae, and EV-shuttled fluorochromes were quickly taken up by the bone upon in vivo EV systemic administration. Rankl mice lack the osteoclast lineage and are negative for its specific marker tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAcP). Treatment of rankl mice with wild-type osteoblast EVs induced the appearance of TRAcP-positive cells in an EV density-dependent manner. Finally, osteoblast EVs internalized and shuttled anti-osteoclast drugs (zoledronate and dasatinib), inhibiting osteoclast activity in vitro and in vivo. We conclude that osteoblast EVs are involved in intercellular communication between bone cells, contribute to the Rankl pro-osteoclastic effect, and shuttle anti-osteoclast drugs, representing a potential means of targeted therapeutic delivery. © 2017 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Published by Wiley Periodicals Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3332DOI Listing
March 2018

Non-conventional role of haemoglobin beta in breast malignancy.

Br J Cancer 2017 Sep 3;117(7):994-1006. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Background: Besides its role as oxygen transporter, recent findings suggest that haemoglobin beta (HBB) may have roles in other contexts.

Methods: We evaluated the impact of HBB expression in primary human breast cancers, and in breast cancer cell lines overexpressing HBB by in vitro and in vivo studies. Publicly available microarray databases were used to perform multivariate survival analyses.

Results: A significantly higher expression of HBB was observed in invasive carcinoma histotypes vs in situ counterparts, along with a positive correlation between HBB and the Ki67 proliferation marker. HBB-overexpressing breast cancer cells migrate and invade more, show HIF-1α upregulation and their conditioned media enhances angiogenesis. Blocking the oxygen-binding site of HBB reverts the increase of migration and HIF-1α upregulation observed in HBB-overexpressing breast cancer cells. Orthotopically implanted MDA-MB-231 overexpressing HBB (MDA-HBB) generated tumours with faster growth rate and increased neoangiogenesis. Moreover, local recurrence and visceral metastases were observed only in MDA-HBB-implanted mice. Similar results were observed with 4T1 mouse breast cancer cells. Finally, bioinformatics analyses of public data sets correlated high HBB expression with lower overall survival.

Conclusions: HBB expression increases breast cancer cells aggressiveness and associates with poor prognosis, pointing to HBB as a novel biomarker for breast cancer progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/bjc.2017.247DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625664PMC
September 2017

Osteopetroses, emphasizing potential approaches to treatment.

Bone 2017 Sep 4;102:50-59. Epub 2017 Feb 4.

Department of Medicine, Indiana University, 1120 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA; Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University, 1120 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Electronic address:

Osteopetroses are a heterogeneous group of rare genetic bone diseases sharing the common hallmarks of reduced osteoclast activity, increased bone mass and high bone fragility. Osteoclasts are bone resorbing cells that contribute to bone growth and renewal through the erosion of the mineralized matrix. Alongside the bone forming activity by osteoblasts, osteoclasts allow the skeleton to grow harmonically and maintain a healthy balance between bone resorption and formation. Osteoclast impairment in osteopetroses prevents bone renewal and deteriorates bone quality, causing atraumatic fractures. Osteopetroses vary in severity and are caused by mutations in a variety of genes involved in bone resorption or in osteoclastogenesis. Frequent signs and symptoms include osteosclerosis, deformity, dwarfism and narrowing of the bony canals, including the nerve foramina, leading to hematological and neural failures. The disease is autosomal, with only one extremely rare form associated so far to the X-chromosome, and can have either recessive or dominant inheritance. Recessive ostepetroses are generally lethal in infancy or childhood, with a few milder forms clinically denominated intermediate osteopetroses. Dominant osteopetrosis is so far associated only with mutations in the CLCN7 gene and, although described as a benign form, it can be severely debilitating, although not at the same level as recessive forms, and can rarely result in reduced life expectancy. Severe osteopetroses due to osteoclast autonomous defects can be treated by Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT), but those due to deficiency of the pro-osteoclastogenic cytokine, RANKL, are not suitable for this procedure. Likewise, it is unclear as to whether HSCT, which has high intrinsic risks, results in clinical improvement in autosomal dominant osteopetrosis. Therefore, there is an unmet medical need to identify new therapies and studies are currently in progress to test gene and cell therapies, small interfering RNA approach and novel pharmacologic treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2017.02.002DOI Listing
September 2017

Interleukin-1β, lipocalin 2 and nitric oxide synthase 2 are mechano-responsive mediators of mouse and human endothelial cell-osteoblast crosstalk.

Sci Rep 2016 07 19;6:29880. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100 L' Aquila, Italy.

Endothelial cells are spatially close to osteoblasts and regulate osteogenesis. Moreover, they are sensitive to mechanical stimuli, therefore we hypothesized that they are implicated in the regulation of bone metabolism during unloading. Conditioned media from endothelial cells (EC-CM) subjected to simulated microgravity (0.08g and 0.008g) increased osteoblast proliferation and decreased their differentiation compared to unit gravity (1g) EC-CM. Microgravity-EC-CM increased the expression of osteoblast Rankl and subsequent osteoclastogenesis, and induced the osteoblast de-differentiating factor, Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), whose downregulation recovered osteoblast activity, decreased Rankl expression and reduced osteoclastogenesis. Microgravity-EC-CM enhanced osteoblast NO-Synthase2 (NOS2) and CycloOXygenase2 (COX2) expression. Inhibition of NOS2 or NO signaling reduced osteoblast proliferation and rescued their differentiation. Nuclear translocation of the Lcn2/NOS2 transcription factor, NF-κB, occurred in microgravity-EC-CM-treated osteoblasts and in microgravity-treated endothelial cells, alongside high expression of the NF-κB activator, IL-1β. IL-1β depletion and NF-κB inhibition reduced osteoblast proliferation and rescued differentiation. Lcn2 and NOS2 were incremented in ex vivo calvarias cultured in microgravity-EC-CM, and in vivo tibias and calvarias injected with microgravity-EC-CM. Furthermore, tibias of botulin A toxin-treated and tail-suspended mice, which featured unloading and decreased bone mass, showed higher expression of IL-1β, Lcn2 and Nos2, suggesting their pathophysiologic involvement in endothelial cell-osteoblast crosstalk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep29880DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4949438PMC
July 2016

The "love-hate" relationship between osteoclasts and bone matrix.

Matrix Biol 2016 May-Jul;52-54:176-190. Epub 2016 Feb 26.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Osteoclasts are unique cells that destroy the mineralized matrix of the skeleton. There is a "love-hate" relationship between the osteoclasts and the bone matrix, whereby the osteoclast is stimulated by the contact with the matrix but, at the same time, it disrupts the matrix, which, in turn, counteracts this disruption by some of its components. The balance between these concerted events brings about bone resorption to be controlled and to contribute to bone tissue integrity and skeletal health. The matrix components released by osteoclasts are also involved in the local regulation of other bone cells and in the systemic control of organismal homeostasis. Disruption of this regulatory loop causes bone diseases, which may end up with either reduced or increased bone mass, often associated with poor bone quality. Expanding the knowledge on osteoclast-to-matrix interaction could help to counteract these diseases and improve the human bone health. In this article, we will present evidence of the physical, molecular and regulatory relationships between the osteoclasts and the mineralized matrix, discussing the underlying mechanisms as well as their pathologic alterations and potential targeting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.matbio.2016.02.009DOI Listing
December 2017

Anabolic and Antiresorptive Modulation of Bone Homeostasis by the Epigenetic Modulator Sulforaphane, a Naturally Occurring Isothiocyanate.

J Biol Chem 2016 Mar 12;291(13):6754-71. Epub 2016 Jan 12.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, and

Bone degenerative pathologies like osteoporosis may be initiated by age-related shifts in anabolic and catabolic responses that control bone homeostasis. Here we show that sulforaphane (SFN), a naturally occurring isothiocyanate, promotes osteoblast differentiation by epigenetic mechanisms. SFN enhances active DNA demethylation viaTet1andTet2and promotes preosteoblast differentiation by enhancing extracellular matrix mineralization and the expression of osteoblastic markers (Runx2,Col1a1,Bglap2,Sp7,Atf4, andAlpl). SFN decreases the expression of the osteoclast activator receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) in osteocytes and mouse calvarial explants and preferentially induces apoptosis in preosteoclastic cells via up-regulation of theTet1/Fas/Caspase 8 and Caspase 3/7 pathway. These mechanistic effects correlate with higher bone volume (∼20%) in both normal and ovariectomized mice treated with SFN for 5 weeks compared with untreated mice as determined by microcomputed tomography. This effect is due to a higher trabecular number in these mice. Importantly, no shifts in mineral density distribution are observed upon SFN treatment as measured by quantitative backscattered electron imaging. Our data indicate that the food-derived compound SFN epigenetically stimulates osteoblast activity and diminishes osteoclast bone resorption, shifting the balance of bone homeostasis and favoring bone acquisition and/or mitigation of bone resorptionin vivo Thus, SFN is a member of a new class of epigenetic compounds that could be considered for novel strategies to counteract osteoporosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M115.678235DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4807263PMC
March 2016

P2RX7 purinoceptor: a therapeutic target for ameliorating the symptoms of duchenne muscular dystrophy.

PLoS Med 2015 Oct 13;12(10):e1001888. Epub 2015 Oct 13.

Molecular Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common inherited muscle disease, leading to severe disability and death in young men. Death is caused by the progressive degeneration of striated muscles aggravated by sterile inflammation. The pleiotropic effects of the mutant gene also include cognitive and behavioral impairments and low bone density. Current interventions in DMD are palliative only as no treatment improves the long-term outcome. Therefore, approaches with a translational potential should be investigated, and key abnormalities downstream from the absence of the DMD product, dystrophin, appear to be strong therapeutic targets. We and others have demonstrated that DMD mutations alter ATP signaling and have identified P2RX7 purinoceptor up-regulation as being responsible for the death of muscles in the mdx mouse model of DMD and human DMD lymphoblasts. Moreover, the ATP-P2RX7 axis, being a crucial activator of innate immune responses, can contribute to DMD pathology by stimulating chronic inflammation. We investigated whether ablation of P2RX7 attenuates the DMD model mouse phenotype to assess receptor suitability as a therapeutic target.

Methods And Findings: Using a combination of molecular, histological, and biochemical methods and behavioral analyses in vivo we demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, that genetic ablation of P2RX7 in the DMD model mouse produces a widespread functional attenuation of both muscle and non-muscle symptoms. In dystrophic muscles at 4 wk there was an evident recovery in key functional and molecular parameters such as improved muscle structure (minimum Feret diameter, p < 0.001), increased muscle strength in vitro (p < 0.001) and in vivo (p = 0.012), and pro-fibrotic molecular signatures. Serum creatine kinase (CK) levels were lower (p = 0.025), and reduced cognitive impairment (p = 0.006) and bone structure alterations (p < 0.001) were also apparent. Reduction of inflammation and fibrosis persisted at 20 mo in leg (p = 0.038), diaphragm (p = 0.042), and heart muscles (p < 0.001). We show that the amelioration of symptoms was proportional to the extent of receptor depletion and that improvements were observed following administration of two P2RX7 antagonists (CK, p = 0.030 and p = 0.050) without any detectable side effects. However, approaches successful in animal models still need to be proved effective in clinical practice.

Conclusions: These results are, to our knowledge, the first to establish that a single treatment can improve muscle function both short and long term and also correct cognitive impairment and bone loss in DMD model mice. The wide-ranging improvements reflect the convergence of P2RX7 ablation on multiple disease mechanisms affecting skeletal and cardiac muscles, inflammatory cells, brain, and bone. Given the impact of P2RX7 blockade in the DMD mouse model, this receptor is an attractive target for translational research: existing drugs with established safety records could potentially be repurposed for treatment of this lethal disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001888DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604078PMC
October 2015

Effective Small Interfering RNA Therapy to Treat CLCN7-dependent Autosomal Dominant Osteopetrosis Type 2.

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2015 Sep 1;4:e248. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

In about 70% of patients affected by autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type 2 (ADO2), osteoclast activity is reduced by heterozygous mutations of the CLCN7 gene, encoding the ClC-7 chloride/hydrogen antiporter. CLCN7(G215R)-, CLCN7(R767W)-, and CLCN7(R286W)-specific siRNAs silenced transfected mutant mRNA/EGFP in HEK293 cells, in RAW264.7 cells and in human osteoclasts, with no change of CLCN7(WT) mRNA and no effect of scrambled siRNA on the mutant transcripts. Osteoclasts from Clcn7(G213R) ADO2 mice showed reduced bone resorption, a condition rescued by Clcn7(G213R)-specific siRNA. Treatment of ADO2 mice with Clcn7(G213R)-specific siRNA induced increase of bone resorption variables and decrease of trabecular bone mass, leading to an overall improvement of the osteopetrotic bone phenotype. Treatment did not induce overt adverse effects and was effective also with siRNAs specific for other mutants. These results demonstrate that a siRNA-based experimental treatment of ADO2 is feasible, and underscore a translational impact for future strategy to cure this therapeutically neglected form of osteopetrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mtna.2015.21DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4877447PMC
September 2015

Gut microbiota-derived outer membrane vesicles: under-recognized major players in health and disease?

Discov Med 2015 May;19(106):343-8

Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Padova, 35128 Padova, Italy.

The role of gut microbiota both in human health and in disease is the subject of intense investigation. The interactions between gut microbiota and the host involve a complex network of metabolic pathways and of biologically active molecules secreted by intestinal bacteria, some of which are packed into nanoparticles known as outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). OMVs can enter the systemic circulation and be delivered to different organs including the brain, eliciting a variety of immunological and metabolic responses. The resulting acute and chronic effects are largely unknown. However, recent studies suggest that OMVs could play a critical role in immune homeostasis and in acute inflammatory reactions. Moreover, the "leaky gut" hypothesis has recently emphasized the role of the brain-gut axis in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorders, pointing to the importance of bacteria and of bacterial products delivered into the circulation in eliciting the low-grade inflammatory response associated with this syndrome. Interestingly, experimental evidence suggests that OMVs can also affect the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. This review also highlights the importance of investigating possible influences of OMVs on the development of the immune system.
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May 2015

Biotechnological approach for systemic delivery of membrane Receptor Activator of NF-κB Ligand (RANKL) active domain into the circulation.

Biomaterials 2015 Apr 17;46:58-69. Epub 2015 Jan 17.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio - Coppito 2, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Deficiency of Receptor Activator of NF-κB Ligand (RANKL) prevents osteoclast formation causing osteopetrosis. RANKL is a membrane-bound protein cleaved into active soluble (s)RANKL by metalloproteinase 14 (MMP14). We created a bio-device that harbors primary osteoblasts, cultured on 3D hydroxyapatite scaffolds carrying immobilized MMP14 catalytic domain. Scaffolds were sealed in diffusion chambers and implanted in RANKL-deficient mice. Mice received 1 or 2 diffusion chambers, once or twice and were sacrificed after 1 or 2 months from implants. A progressive increase of body weight was observed in the implanted groups. Histological sections of tibias of non-implanted mice were negative for the osteoclast marker Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase (TRAcP), consistent with the lack of osteoclasts. In contrast, tibias excised from implanted mice showed TRAcP-positive cells in the bone marrow and on the bone surface, these latter morphologically similar to mature osteoclasts. In mice implanted with 4 diffusion chambers total, we noted the highest number and size of TRAcP-positive cells, with quantifiable eroded bone surface and significant reduction of trabecular bone volume. These data demonstrate that our bio-device delivers effective sRANKL, inducing osteoclastogenesis in RANKL-deficient mice, supporting the feasibility of an innovative experimental strategy to treat systemic cytokine deficiencies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.12.033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337851PMC
April 2015

The α2β1 binding domain of chondroadherin inhibits breast cancer-induced bone metastases and impairs primary tumour growth: a preclinical study.

Cancer Lett 2015 Mar 18;358(1):67-75. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

cyclicCHAD is a peptide representing the α2β1 integrin binding sequence of the matrix protein chondroadherin (CHAD), which in our hands proved effective at counteracting bone loss in ovariectomised mice by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis. Given that bone metastases are characterised by exacerbated osteoclast activity as well, we tested this therapy in mice intracardiacally injected with the osteotropic human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. Treatment with cyclicCHAD significantly decreased cachexia and incidence of bone metastases, and induced a trend of reduction of visceral metastasis volume, while in orthotopically injected mice cyclicCHAD reduced tumour volume. In vitro studies showed its ability to impair tumour cell motility and invasion, suggesting a direct effect not only on osteoclasts but also on the tumour cell phenotype. Interestingly, when administered together with a suboptimal, poorly effective, dose of doxorubicin (DXR), cyclicCHAD improved survival and reduced visceral metastases volume to a level similar to that of the optimal dose of DXR alone. Taken together, these preclinical data suggest that cyclicCHAD is a new inhibitor of bone metastases, with an appreciable direct effect also on tumour growth and a synergistic activity in combination with low dose chemotherapy, underscoring an important translational impact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2014.12.032DOI Listing
March 2015

Reprint of: The Great Beauty of the osteoclast.

Arch Biochem Biophys 2014 Nov;561:13-21

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Much has been written recently on osteoclast biology, but this cell type still astonishes scientists with its multifaceted functions and unique properties. The last three decades have seen a change in thinking about the osteoclast, from a cell with a single function, which just destroys the tissue it belongs to, to an "orchestrator" implicated in the concerted regulation of bone turnover. Osteoclasts have unique morphological features, organelle distribution and plasma membrane domain organization. They require polarization to cause extracellular bone breakdown and release of the digested bone matrix products into the circulation. Osteoclasts contribute to the control of skeletal growth and renewal. Alongside other organs, including kidney, gut, thyroid and parathyroid glands, they also affect calcemia and phosphatemia. Osteoclasts are very sensitive to pro-inflammatory stimuli, and studies in the '00s ascertained their tight link with the immune system, bringing about the question why bone needs a cell regulated by the immune system to remove the extracellular matrix components. Recently, osteoclasts have been demonstrated to contribute to the hematopoietic stem cell niche, controlling local calcium concentration and regulating the turnover of factors essential for hematopoietic stem cell mobilization. Finally, osteoclasts are important regulators of osteoblast activity and angiogenesis, both by releasing factors stored in the bone matrix, and secreting "clastokines" that regulate the activity of neighboring cells. All these facets will be discussed in this review article, with the aim of underscoring The Great Beauty of the osteoclast.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2014.08.009DOI Listing
November 2014