Publications by authors named "Arcangela Giustino"

17 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Characterization of Student Drinking Behaviors at the Beginning of the First Academic Year at One University in Southern Italy.

J Addict Nurs 2019 Jul/Sep;30(3):193-200

Maria A. De Salvia, PhD, Maria Tattoli, MD, PhD, Jean Francois Desaphy, PhD, and Arcangela Giustino, PhD, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy. Angela Maria D'Uggento, PhD, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy. Giovanni Aquilino, PhD, Department of Humanities, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy. Carmine Finelli, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital "Cavalier Raffaele Apicella"-ASL Naples, Naples, Italy. Paola Imbrici, PhD, Department of Pharmacy-Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy.

It is well recognized that both college and noncollege students are at-risk age groups for alcohol consumption. We investigated the alcohol consumption habits of undergraduate students with an emphasis on binge drinking. Participants (N = 809, 61.2% female) were freshmen attending courses at one of the main universities of southern Italy. They were asked to fill out a paper-and-pencil questionnaire that was administered between October 2017 and January 2018. Nearly 90% of the questioned students reported drinking alcohol during the 12 months before the survey. Among them, 31.4% of female students and 41.5% of male students engaged in binge drinking, mainly once a month; binge drinkers preferred highly alcoholic beverages during parties, underestimated the alcoholic content of their drinks, started drinking alcohol at a younger age than nonbinge drinkers, and drank weekly and between meals. Binge drinkers started smoking earlier than their peers, and a great number of them consumed illicit drugs. Moreover, 30.3% of female and 34.8% of male nonbinge drinkers declared that they consumed 6 or more units of alcohol in one occasion, making them unaware binge drinkers. Furthermore, approximately 50% of students recognized that alcohol consumption has effects similar to those induced by illicit drugs but only considered their peers' drinking behavior to be risky.This study highlights that most students involved in this survey expose themselves to a risky lifestyle by heavy drinking and, most alarmingly, that some of them are not even aware of that.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JAN.0000000000000288DOI Listing
February 2020

Ryanodine channel complex stabilizer compound S48168/ARM210 as a disease modifier in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice: proof-of-concept study and independent validation of efficacy.

FASEB J 2018 02 3;32(2):1025-1043. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Pharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacy-Drug Sciences, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Muscle fibers lacking dystrophin undergo a long-term alteration of Ca homeostasis, partially caused by a leaky Ca release ryanodine (RyR) channel. S48168/ARM210, an RyR calcium release channel stabilizer (a Rycal compound), is expected to enhance the rebinding of calstabin to the RyR channel complex and possibly alleviate the pathologic Ca leakage in dystrophin-deficient skeletal and cardiac muscle. This study systematically investigated the effect of S48168/ARM210 on the phenotype of mdx mice by means of a first proof-of-concept, short (4 wk), phase 1 treatment, followed by a 12-wk treatment (phase 2) performed in parallel by 2 independent laboratories. The mdx mice were treated with S48168/ARM210 at two different concentrations (50 or 10 mg/kg/d) in their drinking water for 4 and 12 wk, respectively. The mice were subjected to treadmill sessions twice per week (12 m/min for 30 min) to unmask the mild disease. This testing was followed by in vivo forelimb and hindlimb grip strength and fatigability measurement, ex vivo extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and diaphragm (DIA) force contraction measurement and histologic and biochemical analysis. The treatments resulted in functional (grip strength, ex vivo force production in DIA and EDL muscles) as well as histologic improvement after 4 and 12 wk, with no adverse effects. Furthermore, levels of cellular biomarkers of calcium homeostasis increased. Therefore, these data suggest that S48168/ARM210 may be a safe therapeutic option, at the dose levels tested, for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).-Capogrosso, R. F., Mantuano, P., Uaesoontrachoon, K., Cozzoli, A., Giustino, A., Dow, T., Srinivassane, S., Filipovic, M., Bell, C., Vandermeulen, J., Massari, A. M., De Bellis, M., Conte, E., Pierno, S., Camerino, G. M., Liantonio, A., Nagaraju, K., De Luca, A. Ryanodine channel complex stabilizer compound S48168/ARM210 as a disease modifier in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice: proof-of-concept study and independent validation of efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201700182RRRDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5888399PMC
February 2018

Growth hormone secretagogues prevent dysregulation of skeletal muscle calcium homeostasis in a rat model of cisplatin-induced cachexia.

J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle 2017 Jun 10;8(3):386-404. Epub 2017 Mar 10.

Department of Pharmacy - Drug Sciences, University of Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70125, Bari, Italy.

Background: Cachexia is a wasting condition associated with cancer types and, at the same time, is a serious and dose-limiting side effect of cancer chemotherapy. Skeletal muscle loss is one of the main characteristics of cachexia that significantly contributes to the functional muscle impairment. Calcium-dependent signaling pathways are believed to play an important role in skeletal muscle decline observed in cachexia, but whether intracellular calcium homeostasis is affected in this situation remains uncertain. Growth hormone secretagogues (GHS), a family of synthetic agonists of ghrelin receptor (GHS-R1a), are being developed as a therapeutic option for cancer cachexia syndrome; however, the exact mechanism by which GHS interfere with skeletal muscle is not fully understood.

Methods: By a multidisciplinary approach ranging from cytofluorometry and electrophysiology to gene expression and histology, we characterized the calcium homeostasis in fast-twitch extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle of adult rats with cisplatin-induced cachexia and established the potential beneficial effects of two GHS (hexarelin and JMV2894) at this level. Additionally, in vivo measures of grip strength and of ultrasonography recordings allowed us to evaluate the functional impact of GHS therapeutic intervention.

Results: Cisplatin-treated EDL muscle fibres were characterized by a ~18% significant reduction of the muscle weight and fibre diameter together with an up-regulation of atrogin1/Murf-1 genes and a down-regulation of Pgc1-a gene, all indexes of muscle atrophy, and by a two-fold increase in resting intracellular calcium, [Ca ] , compared with control rats. Moreover, the amplitude of the calcium transient induced by caffeine or depolarizing high potassium solution as well as the store-operated calcium entry were ~50% significantly reduced in cisplatin-treated rats. Calcium homeostasis dysregulation parallels with changes of functional ex vivo (excitability and resting macroscopic conductance) and in vivo (forelimb force and muscle volume) outcomes in cachectic animals. Administration of hexarelin or JMV2894 markedly reduced the cisplatin-induced alteration of calcium homeostasis by both common as well as drug-specific mechanisms of action. This effect correlated with muscle function preservation as well as amelioration of various atrophic indexes, thus supporting the functional impact of GHS activity on calcium homeostasis.

Conclusions: Our findings provide a direct evidence that a dysregulation of calcium homeostasis plays a key role in cisplatin-induced model of cachexia gaining insight into the etiopathogenesis of this form of muscle wasting. Furthermore, our demonstration that GHS administration efficaciously prevents cisplatin-induced calcium homeostasis alteration contributes to elucidate the mechanism of action through which GHS could potentially ameliorate chemotherapy-associated cachexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcsm.12185DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5703021PMC
June 2017

Contractile efficiency of dystrophic mdx mouse muscle: in vivo and ex vivo assessment of adaptation to exercise of functional end points.

J Appl Physiol (1985) 2017 Apr 5;122(4):828-843. Epub 2017 Jan 5.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro," Bari, Italy;

Progressive weakness is a typical feature of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients and is exacerbated in the benign mdx mouse model by in vivo treadmill exercise. We hypothesized a different threshold for functional adaptation of mdx muscles in response to the duration of the exercise protocol. In vivo weakness was confirmed by grip strength after 4, 8, and 12 wk of exercise in mdx mice. Torque measurements revealed that exercise-related weakness in mdx mice correlated with the duration of the protocol, while wild-type (WT) mice were stronger. Twitch and tetanic forces of isolated diaphragm and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were lower in mdx compared with WT mice. In mdx, both muscle types exhibited greater weakness after a single exercise bout, but only in EDL after a long exercise protocol. As opposite to WT muscles, mdx EDL ones did not show any exercise-induced adaptations against eccentric contraction force drop. qRT-PCR analysis confirmed the maladaptation of genes involved in metabolic and structural remodeling, while damage-related genes remained significantly upregulated and angiogenesis impaired. Phosphorylated AMP kinase level increased only in exercised WT muscle. The severe histopathology and the high levels of muscular TGF-β1 and of plasma matrix metalloproteinase-9 confirmed the persistence of muscle damage in mdx mice. Therefore, dystrophic muscles showed a partial degree of functional adaptation to chronic exercise, although not sufficient to overcome weakness nor signs of damage. The improved understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying maladaptation of dystrophic muscle paves the way to a better managment of DMD patients. We focused on the adaptation/maladaptation of dystrophic mdx mouse muscles to a standard protocol of exercise to provide guidance in the development of more effective drug and physical therapies in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The mdx muscles showed a modest functional adaptation to chronic exercise, but it was not sufficient to overcome the progressive in vivo weakness, nor to counter signs of muscle damage. Therefore, a complex involvement of multiple systems underlies the maladaptive response of dystrophic muscle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00776.2015DOI Listing
April 2017

Statin-induced myotoxicity is exacerbated by aging: A biophysical and molecular biology study in rats treated with atorvastatin.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2016 09 1;306:36-46. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy & Drug Sciences, University of Bari - Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Statin-induced skeletal muscle damage in rats is associated to the reduction of the resting sarcolemmal chloride conductance (gCl) and ClC-1 chloride channel expression. These drugs also affect the ClC-1 regulation by increasing protein kinase C (PKC) activity, which phosphorylate and close the channel. Also the intracellular resting calcium (restCa) level is increased. Similar alterations are observed in skeletal muscles of aged rats, suggesting a higher risk of statin myotoxicity. To verify this hypothesis, we performed a 4-5-weeks atorvastatin treatment of 24-months-old rats to evaluate the ClC-1 channel function by the two-intracellular microelectrodes technique as well as transcript and protein expression of different genes sensitive to statins by quantitative real-time-PCR and western blot analysis. The restCa was measured using FURA-2 imaging, and histological analysis of muscle sections was performed. The results show a marked reduction of resting gCl, in agreement with the reduced ClC-1 mRNA and protein expression in atorvastatin-treated aged rats, with respect to treated adult animals. The observed changes in myocyte-enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) expression may be involved in ClC-1 expression changes. The activity of PKC was also increased and further modulate the gCl in treated aged rats. In parallel, a marked reduction of the expression of glycolytic and mitochondrial enzymes demonstrates an impairment of muscle metabolism. No worsening of restCa or histological features was found in statin-treated aged animals. These findings suggest that a strong reduction of gCl and alteration of muscle metabolism coupled to muscle atrophy may contribute to the increased risk of statin-induced myopathy in the elderly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2016.06.032DOI Listing
September 2016

Therapeutic Approaches to Genetic Ion Channelopathies and Perspectives in Drug Discovery.

Front Pharmacol 2016 10;7:121. Epub 2016 May 10.

Department of Pharmacy - Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro" Bari, Italy.

In the human genome more than 400 genes encode ion channels, which are transmembrane proteins mediating ion fluxes across membranes. Being expressed in all cell types, they are involved in almost all physiological processes, including sense perception, neurotransmission, muscle contraction, secretion, immune response, cell proliferation, and differentiation. Due to the widespread tissue distribution of ion channels and their physiological functions, mutations in genes encoding ion channel subunits, or their interacting proteins, are responsible for inherited ion channelopathies. These diseases can range from common to very rare disorders and their severity can be mild, disabling, or life-threatening. In spite of this, ion channels are the primary target of only about 5% of the marketed drugs suggesting their potential in drug discovery. The current review summarizes the therapeutic management of the principal ion channelopathies of central and peripheral nervous system, heart, kidney, bone, skeletal muscle and pancreas, resulting from mutations in calcium, sodium, potassium, and chloride ion channels. For most channelopathies the therapy is mainly empirical and symptomatic, often limited by lack of efficacy and tolerability for a significant number of patients. Other channelopathies can exploit ion channel targeted drugs, such as marketed sodium channel blockers. Developing new and more specific therapeutic approaches is therefore required. To this aim, a major advancement in the pharmacotherapy of channelopathies has been the discovery that ion channel mutations lead to change in biophysics that can in turn specifically modify the sensitivity to drugs: this opens the way to a pharmacogenetics strategy, allowing the development of a personalized therapy with increased efficacy and reduced side effects. In addition, the identification of disease modifiers in ion channelopathies appears an alternative strategy to discover novel druggable targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2016.00121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861771PMC
May 2016

Assessment of resveratrol, apocynin and taurine on mechanical-metabolic uncoupling and oxidative stress in a mouse model of duchenne muscular dystrophy: A comparison with the gold standard, α-methyl prednisolone.

Pharmacol Res 2016 Apr 27;106:101-113. Epub 2016 Feb 27.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy & Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Antioxidants have a great potential as adjuvant therapeutics in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, although systematic comparisons at pre-clinical level are limited. The present study is a head-to-head assessment, in the exercised mdx mouse model of DMD, of natural compounds, resveratrol and apocynin, and of the amino acid taurine, in comparison with the gold standard α-methyl prednisolone (PDN). The rationale was to target the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) via disease-related pathways that are worsened by mechanical-metabolic impairment such as inflammation and over-activity of NADPH oxidase (NOX) (taurine and apocynin, respectively) or the failing ROS detoxification mechanisms via sirtuin-1 (SIRT1)-peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) (resveratrol). Resveratrol (100mg/kg i.p. 5days/week), apocynin (38mg/kg/day per os), taurine (1g/kg/day per os), and PDN (1mg/kg i.p., 5days/week) were administered for 4-5 weeks to mdx mice in parallel with a standard protocol of treadmill exercise and the outcome was evaluated with a multidisciplinary approach in vivo and ex vivo on pathology-related end-points and biomarkers of oxidative stress. Resveratrol≥taurine>apocynin enhanced in vivo mouse force similarly to PDN. All the compounds reduced the production of superoxide anion, assessed by dihydroethidium staining, with apocynin being as effective as PDN, and ameliorated electrophysiological biomarkers of oxidative stress. Resveratrol also significantly reduced plasma levels of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. Force of isolated muscles was little ameliorated. However, the three compounds improved histopathology of gastrocnemius muscle more than PDN. Taurine>apocynin>PDN significantly decreased activated NF-kB positive myofibers. Thus, compounds targeting NOX-ROS or SIRT1/PGC-1α pathways differently modulate clinically relevant DMD-related endpoints according to their mechanism of action. With the caution needed in translational research, the results show that the parallel assessment can help the identification of best adjuvant therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2016.02.016DOI Listing
April 2016

In vivo longitudinal study of rodent skeletal muscle atrophy using ultrasonography.

Sci Rep 2016 Feb 1;6:20061. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

Department of Biomedical Sciences &Human Oncology, Polyclinic Biological Research Institute, University of Bari Aldo Moro, P.zza Giulio Cesare 11, Bari, 70124 Italy.

Muscle atrophy is a widespread ill condition occurring in many diseases, which can reduce quality of life and increase morbidity and mortality. We developed a new method using non-invasive ultrasonography to measure soleus and gastrocnemius lateralis muscle atrophy in the hindlimb-unloaded rat, a well-accepted model of muscle disuse. Soleus and gastrocnemius volumes were calculated using the conventional truncated-cone method and a newly-designed sinusoidal method. For Soleus muscle, the ultrasonographic volume determined in vivo with either method was linearly correlated to the volume determined ex-vivo from excised muscles as muscle weight-to-density ratio. For both soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, a strong linear correlation was obtained between the ultrasonographic volume and the muscle fiber cross-sectional area determined ex-vivo on muscle cryosections. Thus ultrasonography allowed the longitudinal in vivo evaluation of muscle atrophy progression during hindlimb unloading. This study validates ultrasonography as a powerful method for the evaluation of rodent muscle atrophy in vivo, which would prove useful in disease models and therapeutic trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep20061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735519PMC
February 2016

Angiotensin II modulates mouse skeletal muscle resting conductance to chloride and potassium ions and calcium homeostasis via the AT1 receptor and NADPH oxidase.

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2014 Oct 30;307(7):C634-47. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari "A. Moro," Bari, Italy; and

Angiotensin II (ANG II) plays a role in muscle wasting and remodeling; however, little evidence shows its direct effects on specific muscle functions. We presently investigated the acute in vitro effects of ANG II on resting ionic conductance and calcium homeostasis of mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle fibers, based on previous findings that in vivo inhibition of ANG II counteracts the impairment of macroscopic ClC-1 chloride channel conductance (gCl) in the mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy. By means of intracellular microelectrode recordings we found that ANG II reduced gCl in the nanomolar range and in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 = 0.06 μM) meanwhile increasing potassium conductance (gK). Both effects were inhibited by the ANG II receptors type 1 (AT1)-receptor antagonist losartan and the protein kinase C inhibitor chelerythrine; no antagonism was observed with the AT2 antagonist PD123,319. The scavenger of reactive oxygen species (ROS) N-acetyl cysteine and the NADPH-oxidase (NOX) inhibitor apocynin also antagonized ANG II effects on resting ionic conductances; the ANG II-dependent gK increase was blocked by iberiotoxin, an inhibitor of calcium-activated potassium channels. ANG II also lowered the threshold for myofiber and muscle contraction. Both ANG II and the AT1 agonist L162,313 increased the intracellular calcium transients, measured by fura-2, with a two-step pattern. These latter effects were not observed in the presence of losartan and of the phospholipase C inhibitor U73122 and the in absence of extracellular calcium, disclosing a Gq-mediated calcium entry mechanism. The data show for the first time that the AT1-mediated ANG II pathway, also involving NOX and ROS, directly modulates ion channels and calcium homeostasis in adult myofibers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00372.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187056PMC
October 2014

Gene expression in mdx mouse muscle in relation to age and exercise: aberrant mechanical-metabolic coupling and implications for pre-clinical studies in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Hum Mol Genet 2014 Nov 10;23(21):5720-32. Epub 2014 Jun 10.

Unit of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Drug Sciences, University of Bari 'A. Moro', Via Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy and

Weakness and fatigability are typical features of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and are aggravated in dystrophic mdx mice by chronic treadmill exercise. Mechanical activity modulates gene expression and muscle plasticity. Here, we investigated the outcome of 4 (T4, 8 weeks of age) and 12 (T12, 16 weeks of age) weeks of either exercise or cage-based activity on a large set of genes in the gastrocnemius muscle of mdx and wild-type (WT) mice using quantitative real-time PCR. Basal expression of the exercise-sensitive genes peroxisome-proliferator receptor γ coactivator 1α (Pgc-1α) and Sirtuin1 (Sirt1) was higher in mdx versus WT mice at both ages. Exercise increased Pgc-1α expression in WT mice; Pgc-1α was downregulated by T12 exercise in mdx muscles, along with Sirt1, Pparγ and the autophagy marker Bnip3. Sixteen weeks old mdx mice showed a basal overexpression of the slow Mhc1 isoform and Serca2; T12 exercise fully contrasted this basal adaptation as well as the high expression of follistatin and myogenin. Conversely, T12 exercise was ineffective in WT mice. Damage-related genes such as gp91-phox (NADPH-oxidase2), Tgfβ, Tnfα and c-Src tyrosine kinase were overexpressed in mdx muscles and not affected by exercise. Likewise, the anti-inflammatory adiponectin was lower in T12-exercised mdx muscles. Chronic exercise with minor adaptive effects in WT muscles leads to maladaptation in mdx muscles with a disequilibrium between protective and damaging signals. Increased understanding of the pathways involved in the altered mechanical-metabolic coupling may help guide appropriate physical therapies while better addressing pharmacological interventions in translational research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddu287DOI Listing
November 2014

Protein kinase C theta (PKCθ) modulates the ClC-1 chloride channel activity and skeletal muscle phenotype: a biophysical and gene expression study in mouse models lacking the PKCθ.

Pflugers Arch 2014 Dec 20;466(12):2215-28. Epub 2014 Mar 20.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy & Drug Sciences, University of Bari - Aldo Moro, 70125, Bari, Italy.

In skeletal muscle, the resting chloride conductance (gCl), due to the ClC-1 chloride channel, controls the sarcolemma electrical stability. Indeed, loss-of-function mutations in ClC-1 gene are responsible of myotonia congenita. The ClC-1 channel can be phosphorylated and inactivated by protein kinases C (PKC), but the relative contribution of each PKC isoforms is unknown. Here, we investigated on the role of PKCθ in the regulation of ClC-1 channel expression and activity in fast- and slow-twitch muscles of mouse models lacking PKCθ. Electrophysiological studies showed an increase of gCl in the PKCθ-null mice with respect to wild type. Muscle excitability was reduced accordingly. However, the expression of the ClC-1 channel, evaluated by qRT-PCR, was not modified in PKCθ-null muscles suggesting that PKCθ affects the ClC-1 activity. Pharmacological studies demonstrated that although PKCθ appreciably modulates gCl, other isoforms are still active and concur to this role. The modification of gCl in PKCθ-null muscles has caused adaptation of the expression of phenotype-specific genes, such as calcineurin and myocyte enhancer factor-2, supporting the role of PKCθ also in the settings of muscle phenotype. Importantly, the lack of PKCθ has prevented the aging-related reduction of gCl, suggesting that its modulation may represent a new strategy to contrast the aging process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00424-014-1495-1DOI Listing
December 2014

Developmental omega-3 supplementation improves motor skills in juvenile-adult rats.

Int J Dev Neurosci 2009 Oct 13;27(6):599-605. Epub 2009 Jun 13.

Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology, Medical School, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.

Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical for brain growth spurt during both foetal and postnatal period. They play important roles in the expression of genes regulating cell differentiation and neuronal growth, as well as in the development of synaptic processing of neural cell interaction. Foetus and placenta are dependent on maternal supply for their growth and development, and supplemented infants show significantly greater mental and psychomotor scores. In particular, it has been shown that if mothers take omega-3 supplements, their babies are smarter and better physically coordinated. On these grounds, the aim of the present study was to investigate, in the Sprague-Dawley rat, the effects of perinatal treatment with omega-3 on motor activity, motor coordination, motor learning and memory. From gestational day 8 throughout the lactation period, dams received either an emulsion of 0.05g/kg body weight omega-3 in fruit juice, or an emulsion of 1g/kg body weight omega-3 in fruit juice or just the fruit juice (control). Omega-3 formula was made of 27% docosahexaenoic acid and 53% eicosapentaenoic acid. On the day of birth (postnatal day 1), all pups were weighed, and then randomly culled to eight pups per litter. Pups were weaned at 21 days of age. One male pup per litter from each litter (control, n=6; omega-3 0.05g/kg, n=5; omega-3 1g/kg, n=6) was used. Both control and treated rats were tested for (i) locomotor activity using the open field paradigm, (ii) motor coordination and motor learning using the rotarod/accelerod task and (iii) memory using the passive avoidance paradigm. Rats were tested on postnatal day 21 and re-tested on postnatal day 90. As a result, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid supplementation significantly improved motor coordination. In particular, the latency to fall at the first speed was significantly increased in the treated rats as compared to the control animals. This benefit was observed with both doses at each tested age. The rat performance in accelerating rotation speed mode, which provides an indication of motor learning ability, was not modified by the omega-3 supply. Finally, the omega-3 treatment did not influence motor activity in the open field-tested rats, nor the memory ability in the passive avoidance task. In conclusion, perinatal omega-3 supplementation exerts a long lasting beneficial effect on the rotarod performance indicating improvement in balance and motor coordination and, possibly, in the functioning of pathways governing this task.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2009.05.011DOI Listing
October 2009

Effects of early gestational all-trans retinoic acid treatment on motor skills: a longitudinal study in the offspring of Sprague-Dawley rats.

Neurotoxicology 2008 Nov 18;29(6):1107-13. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the behavioral outcomes of all-trans retinoic acid (RA) treatment in the period spanning gestational day (GD) 8-10. A sublethal dose (2.5mg/kg b.w.) compatible with high neonatal survival, sufficient to supply male offspring for later behavioral testing, was used. Indeed, the mortality rate at birth was 7.8%. Reproduction parameters (body weight gain of dams during gestation, number of dams giving birth, pregnancy length, litter size at birth), offspring body weight gain and the development of their somatic characteristics (ear unfolding, auditory conduit opening, eyes opening, hair growth) were not altered by RA. Instead, the onset of righting reflex and negative geotaxis were delayed by 2 days, suggesting vestibular involvement and abnormal functioning of the cerebellum. Then, the performance of RA-treated rats on open field and rotarod/accelerod tasks was assessed from postnatal day (PND) 21 to 90. Similar to the previously investigated GD 11-13 RA treatment, the GD 8-10 RA treatment impaired the open field activity and rotarod/accelerod performance in young adult rats, thus suggesting a task-specific rather than a stage-specific effect of low-dose retinoids during brain development. The delayed appearance of these outcomes underlines the relevance of longitudinal studies to sort out specific RA-targeted neurochemical-behavioral pathways that could be labelled as having no phenotype based on standard examination at birth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2008.09.003DOI Listing
November 2008

Neurochemical and neurobehavioral effects of ganstigmine (CHF2819), a novel acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, in rat prefrontal cortex: an in vivo study.

Pharmacol Res 2007 Oct 27;56(4):288-94. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.

Ganstigmine (CHF2819) is a novel, orally active acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that induces a stimulation of brain cholinergic transmission. In vivo studies show that, in rat prefrontal cortex, extracellular acetylcholine (ACh) concentrations are significantly increased either after local (1 and 10 microM) or oral (1.5 and 3 mg/kg) administration. Moreover, repeated oral treatment (six consecutive days; 3 mg/kg) with ganstigmine significantly increases basal extracellular concentrations of ACh in rat prefrontal cortex. Then, acute ganstigmine administration induces a significant increase in extracellular ACh concentrations (actual values) with respect to the last sample in ganstigmine-treated rats. Concentrations of serotonin (5-HT) and noradrenaline (NA) are not affected by any oral dose of ganstigmine (1.5 and 3 mg/kg) used. Moreover, levels of dopamine (DA) and metabolites are not modified either. Basal extracellular concentrations of 5-HT, NA, DA and metabolites are not affected by repeated (six consecutive days) ganstigmine treatment (3 mg/kg). Furthermore, there is no effect of the challenge dose of ganstigmine (3 mg/kg) on 5-HT, NA, DA and metabolites levels. Finally, ganstigmine reverses the scopolamine-induced deficits of habituation and non-spatial working memory in rats. Taken together, these findings suggest that ganstigmine appears to be a suitable candidate for the treatment of the cholinergic deficit in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2007.07.006DOI Listing
October 2007

Effects of low dose methylmercury administration during the postnatal brain growth spurt in rats.

Neurotoxicol Teratol 2007 Mar-Apr;29(2):282-7. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology, Medical School, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.

Male Sprague-Dawley rats from eight litters were orally administered 0.75 mg/kg/day methylmercury (MeHg) chloride from postnatal day (PD) 14 to PD 23. One male pup per litter from eight different litters per treatment group was used. Each pup was used only for a single behavioral test and tested once. The MeHg dose level resulted in Hg brain concentrations of 0.82+/-0.05 microg/g tissue (n=4). Locomotor behavior was studied in the Opto-Varimex apparatus by testing rats (n=8) weekly from PD 24 to PD 45. Performance of rats (n=8) on learning paradigm was analysed on PD 90. MeHg treatment induced a significant reduction in the number of rearings without altering the distance travelled, the resting time and the time spent in the central part of the arena. Results of conditioned avoidance task showed that, unlike control rats, MeHg-treated animals did not show improvement over blocks and never reached a level of performance that would indicate significant learning had taken place. The present results show that low level exposure to MeHg during late brain growth spurt induces subtle and persistent motor and learning deficits, further underlining the serious potential hazard for the exposed children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2006.10.005DOI Listing
June 2007

Modulation of anxiety through blockade of anandamide hydrolysis.

Nat Med 2003 Jan 2;9(1):76-81. Epub 2002 Dec 2.

Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, California, USA.

The psychoactive constituent of cannabis, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, produces in humans subjective responses mediated by CB1 cannabinoid receptors, indicating that endogenous cannabinoids may contribute to the control of emotion. But the variable effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol obscure the interpretation of these results and limit the therapeutic potential of direct cannabinoid agonists. An alternative approach may be to develop drugs that amplify the effects of endogenous cannabinoids by preventing their inactivation. Here we describe a class of potent, selective and systemically active inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase, the enzyme responsible for the degradation of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide. Like clinically used anti-anxiety drugs, in rats the inhibitors exhibit benzodiazepine-like properties in the elevated zero-maze test and suppress isolation-induced vocalizations. These effects are accompanied by augmented brain levels of anandamide and are prevented by CB1 receptor blockade. Our results indicate that anandamide participates in the modulation of emotional states and point to fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibition as an innovative approach to anti-anxiety therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm803DOI Listing
January 2003

Genetic factors involved in the effects of developmental low-level alcohol induced behavioral alterations in rats.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2002 Feb;26(2):191-203

Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology, University of Bari, Italy.

Behavioral and neurochemical effects of perinatal alcohol exposure (3% v/v solution from Day 15 of gestation to Day 7 after parturition) have been investigated in Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) and alcohol-nonpreferring (sNP) rat lines, selectively bred for opposite alcohol preference and consumption. In an elevated zero-maze model of anxiety, sucrose-exposed sP rats (sP-S): (i) spent significantly less time on the open arms (TO); (ii) exhibited a significantly lower number of head dips (HDIPS); and (iii) showed a higher number of stretched attend-postures (SAP) than sucrose-exposed sNP rats (sNP-S) at 90 and 180 days of age. The two rat lines displayed different emotional reactivity in response to alcohol exposure. Subtle differences in sexual behavior and ultrasonic emission (latency to the first intromission and to the first 50 kHz call) were observed between sP-S and sNP-S rats. sP-alcohol exposed (sP-A) offspring exhibited a higher latency to the first intromission than sNP-alcohol (sNP-A) treated rats. Moreover, a lower number of sP-A rats exhibited both intromission and ejaculation with respect to sNP-A animals. sP-S rats were significantly slower in recover of the righting reflex than sNP-S animals after a challenge dose of alcohol (3 g/kg, i.p.). Perinatal alcohol did not affect either onset or duration of sleep time in either line. Neurochemical experiments have shown that perinatal alcohol did not influence basal dopamine levels or amphetamine-induced dopamine increase in the prefrontal cortex of either sP or sNP offspring. These results, showing an endpoint-specific differential sensitivity of sP and sNP lines to perinatal low alcohol exposure, indicate that genetic factors could be responsible for selective susceptibility to behavioral alterations induced by developmental treatment with this drug of abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0893-133X(01)00306-2DOI Listing
February 2002