Publications by authors named "Antonella Vetuschi"

37 Publications

Long-term abuse of a high-carbohydrate diet is as harmful as a high-fat diet for development and progression of liver injury in a mouse model of NAFLD/NASH.

Nutrition 2020 Jul - Aug;75-76:110782. Epub 2020 Mar 5.

Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedic Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

Objectives: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common liver disease globally. It is caused by a complex network of factors, including diet. The hallmark of NAFLD is the benign accumulation of triacylglycerols, however, this condition may worsen into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe form associated with inflammation and fibrosis. Currently, no therapies are available, and diet modifications are the only strategy. Although there is increasing evidence emerging about how an abuse of carbohydrates could be involved in the progression of liver injury, a comprehensive understanding of the damage induced by an enriched carbohydrate diet is still far from complete. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the effects of a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet (LF-HCD) with high-fat (HFD) and standard (SD) diets in a nutritional mouse model of NAFLD/NASH.

Methods: Histologic, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemical evaluations were performed.

Results: The results showed that the prolonged abuse of both LF-HCDs and HFDs induced a significant increase in hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis scores compared with SD. At the same time, both LF-HCDs and HFDs led to significant increases in the expression of the molecules involved in the progression of NAFLD that we assessed (perilipin, CD68, TGF-β1, CTGF, leptin, leptin receptor, and α-SMA).

Conclusions: The present study highlighted that the simple substitution of fats with carbohydrates is not a proper strategy to prevent or mitigate the progression of NAFLD/NASH. Further studies are required to define the best nutritional strategy to prevent NAFLD and its related metabolic syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.110782DOI Listing
March 2020

Can the AGE/RAGE/ERK signalling pathway and the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition interact in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps?

Eur J Histochem 2020 01 23;64(1). Epub 2020 Jan 23.

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

Chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) is a persistent sinonasal mucosa inflammatory disease with still unclear pathophysiologic mechanisms that imply events of tissue repair and structural remodelling. Several cascades seem to have a considerable role in the onset and progression of mucosa hyperproliferation in nasal polyps including transforming growth factor β/Small mother against decapentaplegic (TGFβ/Smads), mitogenactivated protein kinases (MAPKs), advanced glycosylation end-products (AGEs) together with epithelial-tomesenchymal transition (EMT). Since many inflammatory mediators are reported to play important roles in the development of nasal polyps (NP) disease, this study aimed to analyse the correlation between the AGEs/receptor of advanced glycosylation end-products (RAGE)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signalling pathway and the main markers of EMT to better understand the influence that they exert on the remodelling of nasal mucous membranes in patients affected by CRSwNP vs normal controls. A total of 30 patients were enrolled in this study. Immunohistochemical analysis, using AGE, RAGE, p-ERK, MMP-3, TGF-β1, Smad2/3, Collagen I-III, α-SMA, E-cadherin, IL-6 and Vimentin antibodies, was performed. AGE, RAGE, ERK, p-ERK and MMP3 were also evaluated using western blot analysis. We observed an overexpression of the AGE/RAGE/p-ERK and the main mesenchymal markers of EMT (Vimentin and IL-6) in CRSwNP vs controls whereas the TGF-β/Smad3 pathway did not show any significant differences between the two groups of patients. These observations suggest a complex network of processes in the pathogenesis of NP, and the AGE/RAGE/ERK pathway and EMT might work together in promoting tissue remodelling in the formation of CRSwNP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2020.3079DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7003139PMC
January 2020

Dual CXCR4 and E-Selectin Inhibitor, GMI-1359, Shows Anti-Bone Metastatic Effects and Synergizes with Docetaxel in Prostate Cancer Cell Intraosseous Growth.

Cells 2019 Dec 20;9(1). Epub 2019 Dec 20.

GlycoMimetics Inc. Gaithersburg, MD 20850, USA.

Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) relapses due to acquired resistance to docetaxel-based chemotherapy and remains a major threat to patient survival. In this report, we tested the effectiveness of a dual CXCR4/E-selectin antagonist, GM-I1359, in vitro and in vivo, as a single agent or in combination with docetaxel (DTX). This agent was compared to the single CXCR4 antagonist, CTCE-9908, and E-selectin antagonist, GMI-1271. Here we demonstrate that CXCR4 antagonism reduced growth and enhanced DTX treatment in PCa cell lines as well as restored DTX effectiveness in DTX-resistant cell models. The efficacy of dual antagonist was higher respect to those observed for single CXCR4 antagonism. GM1359 impacted bone marrow colonization and growth in intraventricular and intratibial cell injection models. The anti-proliferative effects of GMI-1359 and DTX correlated with decreased size, osteolysis and serum levels of both mTRAP and type I collagen fragment (CTX) in intra-osseous tumours suggesting that the dual CXCR4/E-selectin antagonist was a docetaxel-sensitizing agent for bone metastatic growth. Single agent CXCR4 (CTCE-9908) and E-selectin (GMI-1271) antagonists resulted in lower sensitizing effects compared to GMI-1359. These data provide a biologic rationale for the use of a dual E-selectin/CXCR4 inhibitor as an adjuvant to taxane-based chemotherapy in men with mCRPC to prevent and reduce bone metastases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9010032DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7017374PMC
December 2019

Can Nrf2 Modulate the Development of Intestinal Fibrosis and Cancer in Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Aug 20;20(16). Epub 2019 Aug 20.

Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Division, University of L'Aquila, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy.

One of the main mechanisms carried out by the cells to counteract several forms of stress is the activation of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (Nrf2) signaling. Nrf2 signaling controls the expression of many genes through the binding of a specific -acting element known as the antioxidant response element (ARE). Activation of Nrf2/ARE signaling can mitigate several pathologic mechanisms associated with an autoimmune response, digestive and metabolic disorders, as well as respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Indeed, several studies have demonstrated that Nrf2 pathway plays a key role in inflammation and in cancer development in many organs, including the intestine. Nrf2 appears to be involved in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an immune-mediated chronic and disabling disease, with a high risk of developing intestinal fibrotic strictures and cancer. Currently, drugs able to increase cytoprotective Nrf2 function are in clinical trials or already being used in clinical practice to reduce the progression of some degenerative conditions. The role of Nrf2 in cancer development and progression is controversial, and drugs able to inhibit abnormal levels of Nrf2 are also under investigation. The goal of this review is to analyze and discuss Nrf2-dependent signals in the initiation and progression of intestinal fibrosis and cancers occurring in IBD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20164061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6720292PMC
August 2019

Neurovascular alterations of muscularis propria in the human anterior vaginal wall in pelvic organ prolapse.

J Anat 2019 08 30;235(2):281-288. Epub 2019 May 30.

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

In the pathophysiology and progression of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), it has been demonstrated that there is a reorganisation of the muscularis propria of the anterior vaginal wall due to a phenotypic smooth muscle cell to myofibroblast switch. An abnormal deposition of collagen type III seems to be influenced by the involvement of advanced glycation end-products. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the hypothesis that this connective tissue remodelling could also be associated with neurovascular alterations of the muscularis in women with POP compared with control patients. We examined 30 women with POP and 10 control patients treated for uterine fibromatosis. Immunohistochemical analysis, using glial fibrillary acidic protein, S-100 protein, receptor tyrosine kinase, neurofilament and α-smooth muscle actin antibodies, was performed. S-100, receptor tyrosine kinase and neurofilament were also evaluated using Western blot analysis. We observed a decrease in all neurovascular-tested markers in nerve bundles, ganglia and interstitial cells of Cajal from POP samples as compared with controls. Even if the processes responsible for these morphological alterations are still not known, it is conceivable that collagen III deposition in the anterior vaginal wall affects not only the architecture of the muscle layer but could also modify the intramuscular neurovascularisation and account for an alteration of the neuromuscular plasticity of the layer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joa.13014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6637706PMC
August 2019

Carotid artery plaque characterization with a wide-detector computed tomography using a dedicated post-processing 3D analysis: comparison with histology.

Radiol Med 2019 Sep 22;124(9):795-803. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

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

Purpose: The characterization of atherosclerotic carotid plaque plays a key role in the identification of patients at risk. The aim of our work was to evaluate the potentialities of carotid computed tomography angiography (CCTA) in assessing composition of atherosclerotic plaque.

Materials And Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 29 patients (7 women and 22 men, age range 54-81; mean age 69) who underwent carotid endarterectomy. All patients underwent pre-surgical CCTA using a 320-slice scanner. Post-processing reconstructions and analysis were performed using a specific software. Percentage of three different components of the atherosclerotic plaque (adipose, fibrotic and calcific) were classified based on Hounsfield unit values. Post-processing results were compared with histological analysis. Vessel and plaque parameters were compared using the Pearson correlation coefficient (r). Bland-Altman plots with 95% confidence intervals were calculated for correlation. McNemar's test was used for comparison of dichotomous variables.

Results: A significant correlation between histology and CCTA was found with respect to the areas corresponding to adipose, fibrotic and calcified plaques. The existence of proportional bias was observed between the two quantifying methods with lower discrepancies found for the adipose and fibrotic plaque areas. The Bland-Altman analyses showed a mean bias of 3.2%, 2.5% and 0.6% between histology and CCTA, for adipose, fibrotic and calcified plaque areas, respectively.

Conclusions: Multi-detector CT angiography represents a valuable technique to assess quantitatively the composition of atherosclerotic plaques, with particular reference to the prevalence of fibrotic tissue, and is a useful diagnostic tool to improve risk stratification of patients for cerebral stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11547-019-01026-8DOI Listing
September 2019

SIRT1 participates in the response to methylglyoxal-dependent glycative stress in mouse oocytes and ovary.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2019 06 13;1865(6):1389-1401. Epub 2019 Feb 13.

Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy; Infertility Service, San Salvatore Hospital, L'Aquila 67100, L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Methylglyoxal (MG), a highly reactive dicarbonyl derived from metabolic processes, is the most powerful precursor of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Glycative stress has been recently associated with ovarian dysfunctions in aging and PCOS syndrome. We have investigated the role of the NAD-dependent Class III deacetylase SIRT1 in the adaptive response to MG in mouse oocytes and ovary. In mouse oocytes, MG induced up-expression of glyoxalase 1 (Glo1) and glyoxalase 2 (Glo2) genes, components of the main MG detoxification system, whereas inhibition of SIRT1 by Ex527 or sirtinol reduced this response. In addition, the inhibition of SIRT1 worsened the effects of MG on oocyte maturation rates, while SIRT1 activation by resveratrol counteracted MG insult. Ovaries from female mice receiving 100 mg/kg MG by gastric administration for 28 days (MG mice) exhibited increased levels of SIRT1 along with over-expression of catalase, superoxide dismutase 2, SIRT3, PGC1α and mtTFA. Similar levels of MG-derived AGEs were observed in the ovaries from MG and control groups, along with enhanced protein expression of glyoxalase 1 in MG mice. Oocytes ovulated by MG mice exhibited atypical meiotic spindles, a condition predisposing to embryo aneuploidy. Our results from mouse oocytes revealed for the first time that SIRT1 could modulate MG scavenging by promoting expression of glyoxalases. The finding that up-regulation of glyoxalase 1 is associated with that of components of a SIRT1 functional network in the ovaries of MG mice provides strong evidence that SIRT1 participates in the response to methylglyoxal-dependent glycative stress in the female gonad.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2019.02.011DOI Listing
June 2019

Epidermal growth factor-like domain multiple 7 (EGFL7): Expression and possible effect on biliary epithelium growth in cholangiocarcinoma.

Eur J Histochem 2018 Nov 30;62(4). Epub 2018 Nov 30.

Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedics Sciences.

Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is an aggressive biliary tract malignancy with limited treatment options and low survival rates. The intrahepatic subtype comprises two forms: mucin-iCCA and mixed-iCCA. Epidermal growth factor-like domain multiple (EGFL7) is overexpressed in less differentiated liver tumors. The aim of this study was to assess the presence of EGFL7 due to its possible role in the growth of CCA. Hematoxylin and Eosin and periodic acid-Schiff staining were used to evaluate the morphological aspects and glycogen deposition. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence were performed to identify the presence of EGFL7 both in tumor sections ex vivo and in appropriate cell lines in culture. We found that EGFL7 is expressed in malignant cholangiocytes of mixed-iCCA and absent in mucin-iCCA. In conclusion the expression of EGFL7 might be useful in the classification of CCA subtypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2018.2971DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6291760PMC
November 2018

Interaction between sphingosine kinase/sphingosine 1 phosphate and transforming growth factor-β/Smads pathways in experimental intestinal fibrosis. An in vivo immunohistochemical study.

Eur J Histochem 2018 Jul 31;62(3). Epub 2018 Jul 31.

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

A concomitant action of multiple profibrotic mediators appears crucial in the development and progression of fibrosis. Sphingosine kinase/sphingosine 1 phosphate and transforming growth factor-β/Smads pathways are both involved in pathogenesis of fibrosis in several organs by controlling differentiation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts and the epithelial to-mesenchymal transition. However, their direct involvement in chronic colitis-associated fibrosis it is not yet known. In this study we evaluated the immunohistochemical expression of some proteins implicated in sphingosine kinase/sphingosine 1 phosphate and transforming growth factor-β/Smads pathways in Dextrane Sodium Sulphate (DSS)-induced colorectal fibrosis in mice. Compared to control mice, DSS-induced chronic colitis mice developed a marked intestinal fibrosis associated with a concomitant overexpression of TGF-β, p-Smad3, α-SMA, collagen I-III, SPHK1, RhoA, PI3K, Akt, p-Akt, p-mTOR. This study highlights the relationship between the two pathways and the possible role of SPHK1 in the intestinal fibrosis.  These results, if confirmed by in vitro studies, may have important clinical implications in the development of new therapeutical approaches in inflammatory bowel disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2018.2956DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6077868PMC
July 2018

Immunolocalization of Advanced Glycation End Products, Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases, and Transforming Growth Factor-β/Smads in Pelvic Organ Prolapse.

J Histochem Cytochem 2018 09 8;66(9):673-686. Epub 2018 May 8.

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

Collagen and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) as a switch between type I and III collagen together with a simultaneous activation of MMPs have been observed in the vaginal wall. The aim of this study was to evaluate the Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products, ERK1/2 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β/Smad pathway expression in muscularis propria in women with POP compared with control patients. We examined 20 patients with POP and 10 control patients treated for uterine fibromatosis. Immunohistochemical analysis using AGE, RAGE, ERK1/2, Smads-2/3, Smad-7, MMP-3, and collagen I-III, TIMP, and α-SMA were performed. Smad-2/3, Smad-7, AGE, ERK1/2, p-ERK, and p-Smad3 were also evaluated using Western-blot analysis. POP samples from the anterior vaginal wall showed disorganization of the normal muscularis architecture. In POP samples, AGE, ERK1/2, Smad-2/3, MMP-3, and collagen III were upregulated in muscularis whereas in controls, Smad-7 and collagen I were increased. The receptor for AGEs (RAGE) was mild or absent both in controls and prolapse. We demonstrated the involvement of these markers in women with POP but further studies are required to elucidate if the overexpression of these molecules could play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of POP disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1369/0022155418772798DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116086PMC
September 2018

The first-in-class alkylating deacetylase inhibitor molecule tinostamustine shows antitumor effects and is synergistic with radiotherapy in preclinical models of glioblastoma.

J Hematol Oncol 2018 02 27;11(1):32. Epub 2018 Feb 27.

Mundipharma-EDO GmbH, Basel, Switzerland.

Background: The use of alkylating agents such as temozolomide in association with radiotherapy (RT) is the therapeutic standard of glioblastoma (GBM). This regimen modestly prolongs overall survival, also if, in light of the still dismal prognosis, further improvements are desperately needed, especially in the patients with O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) unmethylated tumors, in which the benefit of standard treatment is less. Tinostamustine (EDO-S101) is a first-in-class alkylating deacetylase inhibitor (AK-DACi) molecule that fuses the DNA damaging effect of bendamustine with the fully functional pan-histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, vorinostat, in a completely new chemical entity.

Methods: Tinostamustine has been tested in models of GBM by using 13 GBM cell lines and seven patient-derived GBM proliferating/stem cell lines in vitro. U87MG and U251MG (MGMT negative), as well as T98G (MGMT positive), were subcutaneously injected in nude mice, whereas luciferase positive U251MG cells and patient-derived GBM stem cell line (CSCs-5) were evaluated the orthotopic intra-brain in vivo experiments.

Results: We demonstrated that tinostamustine possesses stronger antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects than those observed for vorinostat and bendamustine alone and similar to their combination and irrespective of MGMT expression. In addition, we observed a stronger radio-sensitization of single treatment and temozolomide used as control due to reduced expression and increased time of disappearance of γH2AX indicative of reduced signal and DNA repair. This was associated with higher caspase-3 activation and reduction of RT-mediated autophagy. In vivo, tinostamustine increased time-to-progression (TTP) and this was additive/synergistic to RT. Tinostamustine had significant therapeutic activity with suppression of tumor growth and prolongation of DFS (disease-free survival) and OS (overall survival) in orthotopic intra-brain models that was superior to bendamustine, RT and temozolomide and showing stronger radio sensitivity.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that tinostamustine deserves further investigation in patients with glioblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13045-018-0576-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5830080PMC
February 2018

Episode-like pulse testosterone supplementation induces tumor senescence and growth arrest down-modulating androgen receptor through modulation of p-ERK1/2, pAR and CDK1 signaling: biological implications for men treated with testosterone replacement therapy.

Oncotarget 2017 Dec 30;8(69):113792-113806. Epub 2017 Nov 30.

Department of Systems Medicine, Chair of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology (ENDOSEX), Tor Vergata University of Rome, 00133 Rome, Italy.

Despite the growing body of knowledge showing that testosterone (T) may not significantly affect tumor progression in hypogonadal patients treated for prostate cancer (Pca), the use of this hormone in this population still remains controversial. The effects of continuous or pulsed T stimulation were tested and on androgen-sensitive Pca cell lines in order to assess the differential biological properties of these two treatment modalities. Pulsed T treatment resulted in a greater inhibition than continuous T supplementation of tumor growth and . The effects of pulsed T treatment on tumor growth inhibition, G0/G1 cell cycle arrest, and tumor senescence was more pronounced than those obtained upon continuous T treatments. Mechanistic studies revealed that G0/G1 arrest and tumor senescence upon pulsed T treatment were associated with a marked decrease in cyclin D1, c-Myc and SKp2, CDK4 and p-Rb levels and upregulation of p27 and p-ERK1/2. Pulsed, but not continuous, T supplementation decreased the expression levels of AR, p-AR and CDK1 in both cellular models. The results were confirmed in an xenografts, providing evidence of a greater inhibitory activity of pulsed supraphysiological T supplementation than continuous treatment, both in terms of tumor volume and decreased AR, p-AR, PSA and CDK1 staining. The rapid cycling from hypogonadal to physiological or supra-physiological T intraprostatic concentrations results in cytostatic and senescence effects in preclinical models of androgen-sensitive Pca. Our preclinical evidence provides relevant new insights in the biology of Pca response to pulsed T supplementation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22776DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5768363PMC
December 2017

The Natural Carotenoid Crocetin and the Synthetic Tellurium Compound AS101 Protect the Ovary against Cyclophosphamide by Modulating SIRT1 and Mitochondrial Markers.

Oxid Med Cell Longev 2017 15;2017:8928604. Epub 2017 Nov 15.

Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Cancer therapies are associated with increased infertility risk due to accelerated reproductive aging. Oxidative stress (OS) is a potential mechanism behind ovarian toxicity by cyclophosphamide (CPM), the most ovotoxic anticancer drug. An important sensor of OS is SIRT1, a NAD-dependent deacetylase which regulates cellular defence and cell fate. This study investigated whether the natural carotenoid crocetin and the synthetic compound AS101 protect the ovary against CPM by modulating SIRT1 and mitochondrial markers. We found that the number of primordial follicles of female CD1 mice receiving crocetin plus CPM increased when compared with CPM alone and similar to AS101, whose protective effects are known. SIRT1 increased in CPM mouse ovaries revealing the occurrence of OS. Similarly, mitochondrial SIRT3 rose, whilst SOD2 and the mitochondrial biogenesis activator PGC1- decreased, suggesting the occurrence of mitochondrial damage. Crocetin and AS101 administration prevented SIRT1 burst suggesting that preservation of redox balance can help the ovary to counteract ovarian damage by CPM. Decreased SIRT3 and increased SOD2 and PGC1- in mice receiving crocetin or AS101 prior to CPM provide evidence for mitochondrial protection. Present results improve the knowledge of ovarian damage by CPM and may help to develop interventions for preserving fertility in cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2017/8928604DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705900PMC
July 2018

Development of hepatocellular cancer induced by long term low fat-high carbohydrate diet in a NAFLD/NASH mouse model.

Oncotarget 2017 Aug 21;8(32):53482-53494. Epub 2017 Jun 21.

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common chronic liver disease. It can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and, in a percentage of cases, to hepatocarcinogenesis. The strong incidence in western countries of obesity and metabolic syndrome, whose NAFLD is the hepatic expression, is thought to be correlated to consumption of diets characterized by processed food and sweet beverages. Previous studies described high-fat diet-induced liver tumors. Conversely, the involvement of low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet in the progression of liver disease or cancer initiation has not been described yet. Here we show for the first time hepatic cancer formation in low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet fed NAFLD/NASH mouse model. Animals were long term high-fat, low-fat/high-carbohydrate or standard diet fed. We observed progressive liver damage in low-fat/high-carbohydrate and high-fat animals after 12 and, more, 18 months. Tumors were detected in 20% and 50% of high-fat diet fed mice after 12 and 18 months and, interestingly, in 30% of low-fat/high-carbohydrate fed animals after 18 months. No tumors were detected in standard diet fed mice. Global increase of hepatic interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α and hepatocyte growth factor was detected in low-fat/high-carbohydrate and high-fat with respect to standard diet fed mice as well as in tumor with respect to non-tumor bearing mice. A panel of 15 microRNAs was analyzed: some of them revealed differential expression in low-fat/high-carbohydrate with respect to high-fat diet fed groups and in tumors. Data here shown provide the first evidence of the involvement of low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet in hepatic damage leading to tumorigenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18585DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5581124PMC
August 2017

The possible prognostic role of histone deacetylase and transforming growth factor β/Smad signaling in high grade gliomas treated by radio-chemotherapy: a preliminary immunohistochemical study.

Eur J Histochem 2017 May 16;61(2):2732. Epub 2017 May 16.

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

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive tumor of the central nervous system. Unfortunately, patients affected by this disease have a very poor prognosis, due to high level of invasiveness and resistance to standard therapies. Although the molecular profile of GBM has been extensively investigated, the events responsible for its pathogenesis and progression remain largely unknown. Histone Deacetylases (HDAC) dependent epigenetic modifications and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β/Smad pathway seem to play an important role in GBM tumorigenesis, resistance to common therapies and poor clinical outcome.  The aim of this study was to evaluate the involvement and the possible interaction between these two molecular cascades in the pathogenesis and prognosis of GBM. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on microdissected GBM samples, collected from 14 patients (6 men and 8 women) ranging in age from 43 to 74 years. The patients were previously divided, on the basis of their overall survival (OS), into two groups: short and long OS. Patients with poor prognosis showed hyperexpression of HDAC4 and HDAC6, an activation of the TGF-β/Smad pathway, with high levels of IL-13, Smad2, PDGF and MMP3 expression, compared to the long survivors. The short OS group exhibits a decrease in Smad 7 expression and also low levels of p21 immunostaining, which represents a common target of the two pathways. The IHC data was confirmed by quantitative analysis and Immunoblotting. Our preliminary results suggest that both HDAC4 and HDAC6 together with the TGF-β/Smad pathway may be involved in progression of GBM and this cross talking could be a useful prognostic marker in this deadly disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2017.2732DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5439439PMC
May 2017

The novel CXCR4 antagonist, PRX177561, reduces tumor cell proliferation and accelerates cancer stem cell differentiation in glioblastoma preclinical models.

Tumour Biol 2017 Jun;39(6):1010428317695528

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

Glioblastoma is the most frequent and the most lethal primary brain tumor among adults. Standard of care is the association of radiotherapy with concomitant or adjuvant temozolomide. However, to date, recurrence is inevitable. The CXCL12/CXCR4 pathway is upregulated in the glioblastoma tumor microenvironment regulating tumor cell proliferation, local invasion, angiogenesis, and the efficacy of radio-chemotherapy. In this study, we evaluated the effects of the novel CXCR4 antagonist, PRX177561, in preclinical models of glioblastoma. CXCR4 expression and PRX177561 effects were assessed on a panel of 12 human glioblastoma cells lines and 5 patient-derived glioblastoma stem cell cultures. Next, the effect of PRX177561 was tested in vivo, using subcutaneous injection of U87MG, U251, and T98G cells as well as orthotopic intrabrain inoculation of luciferase-transfected U87MG cells. Here we found that PRX177561 impairs the proliferation of human glioblastoma cell lines, increases apoptosis, and reduces CXCR4 expression and cell migration in response to stromal cell-derived factor 1alpha in vitro. PRX177561 reduced the expression of stem cell markers and increased that of E-cadherin and glial fibrillary acidic protein in U87MG cells consistent with a reduction in cancer stem cells. In vivo, PRX177561 reduced the weight and increased the time to progression of glioblastoma subcutaneous tumors while increasing disease-free survival and overall survival of mice bearing orthotopic tumors. Our findings suggest that targeting stromal cell-derived factor 1 alpha/CXCR4 axis by PRX177561 might represent a novel therapeutic approach against glioblastoma and support further investigation of this compound in more complex preclinical settings in order to determine its therapeutic potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1010428317695528DOI Listing
June 2017

Enhancement of radiosensitivity by the novel anticancer quinolone derivative vosaroxin in preclinical glioblastoma models.

Oncotarget 2017 May;8(18):29865-29886

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

Purpose: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain tumor. The activity of vosaroxin, a first-in-class anticancer quinolone derivative that intercalates DNA and inhibits topoisomerase II, was investigated in GBM preclinical models as a single agent and combined with radiotherapy (RT).

Results: Vosaroxin showed antitumor activity in clonogenic survival assays, with IC50 of 10-100 nM, and demonstrated radiosensitization. Combined treatments exhibited significantly higher γH2Ax levels compared with controls. In xenograft models, vosaroxin reduced tumor growth and showed enhanced activity with RT; vosaroxin/RT combined was more effective than temozolomide/RT. Vosaroxin/RT triggered rapid and massive cell death with characteristics of necrosis. A minor proportion of treated cells underwent caspase-dependent apoptosis, in agreement with in vitro results. Vosaroxin/RT inhibited RT-induced autophagy, increasing necrosis. This was associated with increased recruitment of granulocytes, monocytes, and undifferentiated bone marrow-derived lymphoid cells. Pharmacokinetic analyses revealed adequate blood-brain penetration of vosaroxin. Vosaroxin/RT increased disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) significantly compared with RT, vosaroxin alone, temozolomide, and temozolomide/RT in the U251-luciferase orthotopic model.

Materials And Methods: Cellular, molecular, and antiproliferative effects of vosaroxin alone or combined with RT were evaluated in 13 GBM cell lines. Tumor growth delay was determined in U87MG, U251, and T98G xenograft mouse models. (DFS) and (OS) were assessed in orthotopic intrabrain models using luciferase-transfected U251 cells by bioluminescence and magnetic resonance imaging.

Conclusions: Vosaroxin demonstrated significant activity in vitro and in vivo in GBM models, and showed additive/synergistic activity when combined with RT in O6-methylguanine methyltransferase-negative and -positive cell lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16168DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5444710PMC
May 2017

HDAC4 and HDAC6 sustain DNA double strand break repair and stem-like phenotype by promoting radioresistance in glioblastoma cells.

Cancer Lett 2017 07 23;397:1-11. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

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

The role of histone deacetylase (HDAC) 4 and 6 in glioblastoma (GBM) radioresistance was investigated. We found that tumor samples from 31 GBM patients, who underwent temozolomide and radiotherapy combined treatment, showed HDAC4 and HDAC6 expression in 93.5% and 96.7% of cases, respectively. Retrospective clinical data analysis demonstrated that high-intensity HDAC4 and/or HDAC6 immunostaining was predictive of poor clinical outcome. In vitro experiments revealed that short hairpin RNA-mediated silencing of HDAC4 or HDAC6 radiosensitized U87MG and U251MG GBM cell lines by promoting DNA double-strand break (DSBs) accumulation and by affecting DSBs repair molecular machinery. We found that HDAC6 knock-down predisposes to radiation therapy-induced U251MG apoptosis- and U87MG autophagy-mediated cell death. HDAC4 silencing promoted radiation therapy-induced senescence, independently by the cellular context. Finally, we showed that p53 expression contributed to the radiotherapy lethal effects and that HDAC4 or HDAC6 sustained GBM stem-like radioresistant phenotype. Altogether, these observations suggest that HDAC4 and HDAC6 are guardians of irradiation-induced DNA damages and stemness, thus promoting radioresistance, and may represent potential prognostic markers and therapeutic targets in GBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2017.03.028DOI Listing
July 2017

Role of glycogen synthase kinase-3β and PPAR-γ on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in DSS-induced colorectal fibrosis.

PLoS One 2017 16;12(2):e0171093. Epub 2017 Feb 16.

Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Gastroenterology Unit, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.

Background: Intestinal fibrosis is characterized by abnormal production and deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins by activated myofibroblasts. The main progenitor cells of activated myofibroblasts are the fibroblasts and the epithelial cells, the latter through the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT).

Aim: To evaluate the action of the new PPAR-γ modulator, GED-0507-34 Levo (GED) on the expression of EMT associated and regulatory proteins such as TGF-β, Smad3, E-cadherin, Snail, ZEB1, β-catenin, and GSK-3β, in a mouse model of DSS-induced intestinal fibrosis.

Methods: Chronic colitis and fibrosis were induced by oral administration of 2.5% DSS (w/v) for 6 weeks. GW9662 (GW), a selective PPAR-γ inhibitor, was also administered by intraperitoneal injection at the dose of 1 mg/kg/day combined with GED treatment. All drugs were administered at the beginning of the second cycle of DSS (day 12). 65 mice were randomly divided into five groups (H2O as controls n = 10, H2O+GED n = 10, DSS n = 15, DSS+GED n = 15, DSS+GED+GW n = 15). The colon was excised for macroscopic examination and histological and morphometric analyses. The level of expression of molecules involved in EMT and fibrosis, like TGF-β, Smad3, E-cadherin, Snail, ZEB1, β-catenin, GSK-3β and PPAR-γ, was assessed by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, western blot and Real Time PCR.

Results: GED improved the DSS-induced chronic colitis and fibrosis. GED was able to reduce the expression of the main fibrosis markers (α-SMA, collagen I-III and fibronectin) as well as the pivotal pro-fibrotic molecules IL-13, TGF-β and Smad3, while it increased the anti-fibrotic PPAR-γ. All these GED effects were nullified by co-administration of GW with GED. Furthermore, GED was able to normalize the expression levels of E-cadherin and β-catenin and upregulated GSK-3β, that are all known to be involved both in EMT and fibrosis.

Conclusions: The DSS-induced intestinal fibrosis was improved by the new PPAR-γ modulator GED-0507-34 Levo through the modulation of EMT mediators and pro-fibrotic molecules and through GSK-3β induction.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0171093PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313173PMC
August 2017

Expression of pro-fibrotic and anti-fibrotic molecules in dimethylnitrosamine-induced hepatic fibrosis.

Pathol Res Pract 2017 Jan 11;213(1):58-65. Epub 2016 Nov 11.

Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Gastroenterology Unit, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio Coppito 2, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by a progressive accumulation of fibrillar extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, produced by activated myofibroblasts which are modulated by both profibrotic and antifibrotic factors.

Objective: To evaluate in vivo the expression of pro-fibrotic molecules like avβ6 integrin, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), Smad3, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR), as well as anti-fibrotic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) in an experimental model of chronic hepatitis-associated fibrosis induced by intraperitoneal administration of dimethylnitrosamine (DMN) in mice.

Methods: Chronic hepatitis was induced in 12 Smad3 wild-type (WT) and 12 knock-out (KO) mice by intraperitoneal DMN administration. Histological, morphometric and immunohistochemical analyses using α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), collagen types I-III, TGF-β1, Smad3, avβ6 integrin, CTGF, mTOR and PPARγ antibodies were performed.

Results: The liver of DMN-treated Smad3 WT mice showed a higher degree of hepatic accumulation of connective tissue compared to KO mice. The expression of α-SMA, collagen I-III and CTGF was increased in Smad3 WT compared to KO mice treated with DMN, associated with a concomitant up-regulation of avβ6, TGFβ, Smad3, and mTOR and a reduction in PPARγ expression.

Conclusions: These results suggest a possible interaction between pro-fibrotic and anti-fibrotic molecules in the development of hepatic fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.prp.2016.11.004DOI Listing
January 2017

Vasopressin regulates the growth of the biliary epithelium in polycystic liver disease.

Lab Invest 2016 11 29;96(11):1147-1155. Epub 2016 Aug 29.

Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedics Sciences, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

The neurohypophysial hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP) acts by three distinct receptor subtypes: V1a, V1b, and V2. In the liver, AVP is involved in ureogenesis, glycogenolysis, neoglucogenesis and regeneration. No data exist about the presence of AVP in the biliary epithelium. Cholangiocytes are the target cells in a number of animal models of cholestasis, including bile duct ligation (BDL), and in several human pathologies, such as polycystic liver disease characterized by the presence of cysts that bud from the biliary epithelium. In vivo, liver fragments from normal and BDL mice and rats as well as liver samples from normal and ADPKD patients were collected to evaluate: (i) intrahepatic bile duct mass by immunohistochemistry for cytokeratin-19; and (ii) expression of V1a, V1b and V2 by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and real-time PCR. In vitro, small and large mouse cholangiocytes, H69 (non-malignant human cholangiocytes) and LCDE (human cholangiocytes from the cystic epithelium) were stimulated with vasopressin in the absence/presence of AVP antagonists such as OPC-31260 and Tolvaptan, before assessing cellular growth by MTT assay and cAMP levels. Cholangiocytes express V2 receptor that was upregulated following BDL and in ADPKD liver samples. Administration of AVP increased proliferation and cAMP levels of small cholangiocytes and LCDE cells. We found no effect in the proliferation of large mouse cholangiocytes and H69 cells. Increases were blocked by preincubation with the AVP antagonists. These results showed that AVP and its receptors may be important in the modulation of the proliferation rate of the biliary epithelium.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/labinvest.2016.93DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480400PMC
November 2016

MicroRNA expression analysis in high fat diet-induced NAFLD-NASH-HCC progression: study on C57BL/6J mice.

BMC Cancer 2016 Jan 5;16. Epub 2016 Jan 5.

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

Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common malignant tumor of the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a frequent chronic liver disorder in developed countries. NAFLD can progress through the more severe non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and, lastly, HCC. Genetic and epigenetic alterations of coding genes as well as deregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) activity play a role in HCC development. In this study, the C57BL/6J mouse model was long term high-fat (HF) or low-fat (LF) diet fed, in order to analyze molecular mechanisms responsible for the hepatic damage progression.

Methods: Mice were HF or LF diet fed for different time points, then plasma and hepatic tissues were collected. Histological and clinical chemistry assays were performed to assess the progression of liver disease. MicroRNAs' differential expression was evaluated on pooled RNAs from tissues, and some miRNAs showing dysregulation were further analyzed at the individual level.

Results: Cholesterol, low and high density lipoproteins, triglycerides and alanine aminotransferase increase was detected in HF mice. Gross anatomical examination revealed hepatomegaly in HF livers, and histological analysis highlighted different degrees and levels of steatosis, inflammatory infiltrate and fibrosis in HF and LF animals, demonstrating the progression from NAFLD through NASH. Macroscopic nodules, showing typical neoplastic features, were observed in 20% of HF diet fed mice. Fifteen miRNAs differentially expressed in HF with respect to LF hepatic tissues during the progression of liver damage, and in tumors with respect to HF non tumor liver specimens were identified. Among them, miR-340-5p, miR-484, miR-574-3p, miR-720, whose expression was never described in NAFLD, NASH and HCC tissues, and miR-125a-5p and miR-182, which showed early and significant dysregulation in the sequential hepatic damage process.

Conclusions: In this study, fifteen microRNAs which were modulated in hepatic tissues and in tumors during the transition NAFLD-NASH-HCC are reported. Besides some already described, new and early dysregulated miRNAs were identified. Functional analyses are needed to validate the results here obtained, and to better define the role of these molecules in the progression of the hepatic disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-015-2007-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700747PMC
January 2016

Cyclin D1 silencing suppresses tumorigenicity, impairs DNA double strand break repair and thus radiosensitizes androgen-independent prostate cancer cells to DNA damage.

Oncotarget 2016 Feb;7(5):5383-400

Department of Cancer Biology, Medical Oncology and Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Patients with hormone-resistant prostate cancer (PCa) have higher biochemical failure rates following radiation therapy (RT). Cyclin D1 deregulated expression in PCa is associated with a more aggressive disease: however its role in radioresistance has not been determined. Cyclin D1 levels in the androgen-independent PC3 and 22Rv1 PCa cells were stably inhibited by infecting with cyclin D1-shRNA. Tumorigenicity and radiosensitivity were investigated using in vitro and in vivo experimental assays. Cyclin D1 silencing interfered with PCa oncogenic phenotype by inducing growth arrest in the G1 phase of cell cycle and reducing soft agar colony formation, migration, invasion in vitro and tumor formation and neo-angiogenesis in vivo. Depletion of cyclin D1 significantly radiosensitizes PCa cells by increasing the RT-induced DNA damages by affecting the NHEJ and HR pathways responsible of the DNA double-strand break repair. Following treatment of cells with RT the abundance of a biomarker of DNA damage, γ-H2AX, was dramatically increased in sh-cyclin D1 treated cells compared to shRNA control. Concordant with these observations DNA-PKcs-activation and RAD51-accumulation, part of the DNA double-strand break repair machinery, were reduced in shRNA-cyclin D1 treated cells compared to shRNA control. We further demonstrate the physical interaction between CCND1 with activated-ATM, -DNA-PKcs and RAD51 is enhanced by RT. Finally, siRNA-mediated silencing experiments indicated DNA-PKcs and RAD51 are downstream targets of CCND1-mediated PCa cells radioresistance. In summary, these observations suggest that CCND1 is a key mediator of PCa radioresistance and could represent a potential target for radioresistant hormone-resistant PCa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6579DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868693PMC
February 2016

Novel PPARγ Modulator GED-0507-34 Levo Ameliorates Inflammation-driven Intestinal Fibrosis.

Inflamm Bowel Dis 2016 Feb;22(2):279-92

*Inserm, LIRIC UMR995, Lille, France; †CHRU de Lille, Service des Maladies de l'Appareil Digestif et de la Nutrition, Hôpital Claude Huriez, LIRIC, UMR995, Lille, France; ‡Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Gastroenterology Unit, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy; §IBD, Lille, France; ‖Department of Pathobiology, Lerner Research Institute, and Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, Digestive Disease Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio; ¶Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France; and **Department of Human Anatomy, University of Roma "La Sapienza," Roma, Italy.

Background: Intestinal fibrosis is mainly associated with Crohn's disease and is defined as a progressive and excessive deposition of extracellular matrix components. No specific antifibrotic therapies are available. In this study, we evaluate the antifibrotic effect of a novel 5-ASA analog able to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, named GED-0507-34 Levo.

Methods: Colonic fibrosis was induced in 110 C57BL/6 mice by 3 cycles of 2.5% (wt/vol) dextran sulfate sodium administration for 6 weeks. The preventive effects of oral daily GED (30 mg · kg(-1) · d(-1)) administration were evaluated using a macroscopic and histological score and also through biological endpoints. Expression of main markers of myofibroblasts activation was determined in transforming growth factor (TGF-β)-stimulated intestinal fibroblasts and epithelial cells.

Results: GED improved macroscopic and microscopic intestinal lesions in dextran sulfate sodium-treated animals and reduced the profibrotic gene expression of Acta2, COL1a1, and Fn1 by 1.48-folds (P < 0.05), 1.93-folds (P < 0.005), and 1.03-fold (P < 0.05), respectively. It reduced protein levels of main markers of fibrosis (α-SMA and Collagen I-II) and the main TGF-β/Smad pathway components. GED also decreased the interleukin-13 and connective tissue growth factor expression by 1.89-folds (P < 0.05) and 2.2-folds (P < 0.005), respectively. GED inhibited TGF-β-induced activation of both fibroblast and intestinal epithelial cell lines, by regulating mRNA expression of α-SMA and fibronectin, and restoring the TGF-β-induced loss of intestinal epithelial cell markers. GED treatment also reduced the TGF-β and ACTA1 expression in primary human intestinal fibroblasts from ulcerative colitis patients.

Conclusions: GED ameliorates intestinal fibrosis in dextran sulfate sodium-induced chronic colitis in mice and regulates major profibrotic cellular and molecular mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MIB.0000000000000618DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718865PMC
February 2016

Ischemia reperfusion of the hepatic artery induces the functional damage of large bile ducts by changes in the expression of angiogenic factors.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2015 Dec 8;309(11):G865-73. Epub 2015 Oct 8.

Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedics Sciences, Sapienza, Rome, Italy;

Liver transplantation and cholangiocarcinoma induce biliary dysfunction following ischemia reperfusion (IR). The function of the intrahepatic biliary tree is regulated by both autocrine and paracrine factors. The aim of the study was to demonstrate that IR-induced damage of cholangiocytes is associated with altered expression of biliary angiogenic factors. Normal and bile duct ligation rats underwent 24-h sham or hepatic reperfusion after 30 min of transient occlusion of the hepatic artery (HAIR) or portal vein (PVIR) before collecting liver blocks and cholangiocyte RNA or protein. We evaluated liver histology, biliary apoptosis, proliferation and expression of VEGF-A/C, VEGFR-2/3, Ang-1/2, and Tie-1/2 in liver sections and isolated small and large cholangiocytes. Normal rat intrahepatic cholangiocyte cultures (NRICC) were maintained under standard conditions in normoxic or under a hypoxic atmosphere for 4 h and then transferred to normal conditions for selected times. Subsequently, we measured changes in biliary proliferation and apoptosis and the expression of VEGF-A/C and VEGFR-2/3. In vivo, HAIR (but not PVIR) induced damage of large bile ducts and decreased proliferation and secretin-stimulated cAMP levels. HAIR-induced damage of large bile ducts was associated with increased expression of VEGF-A/C, VEGFR-2/3, Ang-1/2, and Tie-1/2. In vitro, under hypoxic conditions, there was increased apoptosis and reduced proliferation of NRICC concomitant with enhanced expression of VEGF-A/C and VEGFR-2/3. The functional damage of large bile ducts by HAIR and hypoxia is associated with increased expression of angiogenic factors in small cholangiocytes, presumably due to a compensatory mechanism in response to biliary damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00015.2015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4669349PMC
December 2015

Features of intestinal lesions in the clinical course of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Ital J Anat Embryol 2014 ;119(3):286-303

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD), are chronic, progressive and relapsing inflammatory disorders of unknown etiology. UC is characterized by inflammation of the large bowel mucosa and submucosa, whereas in CD inflammation is transmural and may involve various sites of the gastrointestinal tract. Superficial mucosal lesions are most prone to heal, whereas deep ulcers or transmural fissures may heal with more difficulty and may be followed by the development of fibrosis and strictures requiring surgery. Inflammation appears to be necessary to trigger the onset of the fibrotic process, but subsequently plays a minor role in its progression. In IBD, anti-inflammatory treatment does not prevent evolution of fibrosis once the process has started. Therefore, the mechanisms that regulate fibrosis appear to be distinct from those regulating inflammation. Intestinal fibrosis is due to an abnormal accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins producted by activated intestinal myofibroblasts. Increased evidence indicate that a number of molecules are involved in the development of the disease and a crosstalk between TGFbeta/Smads pathway and alphavbeta6 integrin, mTOR and PPARgamma could play a crucial role in the development of intestinal fibrosis. Animal models represent a useful tool to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms of intestinal inflammation and fibrosis and to test the effectiveness of novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of intestinal fibrosis that still remain the major cause of surgical intervention.
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February 2016

Immunopathogenesis of psoriasis: a possible role of TGFbeta/Smads pathway.

Ital J Anat Embryol 2014 ;119(3):277-85

Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory skin disease with both genetic and environmental factors contributing to its pathogenesis. Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGFbeta) is a member of a large family of pleiotropic cytokines with three different isoforms (TGFbeta1,2,3). Smads are a family of eight-related proteins that function as intracellular signaling intermediates for TGFbeta once the latter is bound to its receptors (TGFbRI, II and III). The involvement of Smads in TGFbeta signaling has been studied intensively in the skin in the process of wound healing. Few studies, and with controversial results, have investigated at the immunohistochemical and molecular level the role of TGFbeta/Smads signaling in psoriasis.
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February 2016

Taurocholic acid prevents biliary damage induced by hepatic artery ligation in cholestatic rats.

Dig Liver Dis 2010 Oct 20;42(10):709-17. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Scott & White Digestive Disease Research Center, Scott & White, Temple, TX 76504, United States.

Background: Ischemic injury by hepatic artery ligation (HAL) during obstructive cholestasis induced by bile duct ligation (BDL) results in bile duct damage, which can be prevented by administration of VEGF-A. The potential regulation of VEGF and VEGF receptor expression and secretion by bile acids in BDL with HAL is unknown.

Aims: We evaluated whether taurocholic acid (TC) can prevent HAL-induced cholangiocyte damage via the alteration of VEGFR-2 and/or VEGF-A expression.

Methods: Utilizing BDL, BDL+TC, BDL+HAL, BDL+HAL+TC, and BDL+HAL+wortmannin+TC treated rats, we evaluated cholangiocyte apoptosis, proliferation, and secretion as well VEGF-A and VEGFR-2 expression by immunohistochemistry. In vitro, we evaluated the effects of TC on cholangiocyte secretion of VEGF-A and the dependence of TC-induced proliferation on the activity of VEGFR-2.

Results: In BDL rats with HAL, chronic feeding of TC prevented HAL-induced loss of bile ducts and HAL-induced decreased cholangiocyte secretion. TC also prevented HAL-inhibited VEGF-A and VEGFR-2 expression in liver sections and HAL-induced circulating VEGF-A levels, which were blocked by wortmannin administration. In vitro, TC stimulated increased VEGF-A secretion by cholangiocytes, which was blocked by wortmannin and stimulated cholangiocyte proliferation that was blocked by VEGFR-2 kinase inhibitor.

Conclusion: TC prevented HAL-induced biliary damage by upregulation of VEGF-A expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dld.2010.02.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891101PMC
October 2010

H3 histamine receptor-mediated activation of protein kinase Calpha inhibits the growth of cholangiocarcinoma in vitro and in vivo.

Mol Cancer Res 2009 Oct 13;7(10):1704-13. Epub 2009 Oct 13.

Scott & White Digestive Disease Research Center, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, TX 76504, USA.

Histamine regulates functions via four receptors (HRH1, HRH2, HRH3, and HRH4). The d-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3))/Ca(2+)/protein kinase C (PKC)/mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway regulates cholangiocarcinoma growth. We evaluated the role of HRH3 in the regulation of cholangiocarcinoma growth. Expression of HRH3 in intrahepatic and extrahepatic cell lines, normal cholangiocytes, and human tissue arrays was measured. In Mz-ChA-1 cells stimulated with (R)-(alpha)-(-)-methylhistamine dihydrobromide (RAMH), we measured (a) cell growth, (b) IP(3) and cyclic AMP levels, and (c) phosphorylation of PKC and mitogen-activated protein kinase isoforms. Localization of PKCalpha was visualized by immunofluorescence in cell smears and immunoblotting for PKCalpha in cytosol and membrane fractions. Following knockdown of PKCalpha, Mz-ChA-1 cells were stimulated with RAMH before evaluating cell growth and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1/2 phosphorylation. In vivo experiments were done in BALB/c nude mice. Mice were treated with saline or RAMH for 44 days and tumor volume was measured. Tumors were excised and evaluated for proliferation, apoptosis, and expression of PKCalpha, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, VEGF-C, VEGF receptor 2, and VEGF receptor 3. HRH3 expression was found in all cells. RAMH inhibited the growth of cholangiocarcinoma cells. RAMH increased IP(3) levels and PKCalpha phosphorylation and decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation. RAMH induced a shift in the localization of PKCalpha expression from the cytosolic domain into the membrane region of Mz-ChA-1 cells. Silencing of PKCalpha prevented RAMH inhibition of Mz-ChA-1 cell growth and ablated RAMH effects on ERK1/2 phosphorylation. In vivo, RAMH decreased tumor growth and expression of VEGF and its receptors; PKCalpha expression was increased. RAMH inhibits cholangiocarcinoma growth by PKCalpha-dependent ERK1/2 dephosphorylation. Modulation of PKCalpha by histamine receptors may be important in regulating cholangiocarcinoma growth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-09-0261DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2788765PMC
October 2009