Publications by authors named "Daniela Valenti"

52 Publications

A Walk in the Memory, from the First Functional Approach up to Its Regulatory Role of Mitochondrial Bioenergetic Flow in Health and Disease: Focus on the Adenine Nucleotide Translocator.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Apr 17;22(8). Epub 2021 Apr 17.

Institute of Biomembranes, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnologies (IBIOM)-CNR, Via G. Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari, Italy.

The mitochondrial adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT) plays the fundamental role of gatekeeper of cellular energy flow, carrying out the reversible exchange of ADP for ATP across the inner mitochondrial membrane. ADP enters the mitochondria where, through the oxidative phosphorylation process, it is the substrate of Fo-F1 ATP synthase, producing ATP that is dispatched from the mitochondrion to the cytoplasm of the host cell, where it can be used as energy currency for the metabolic needs of the cell that require energy. Long ago, we performed a method that allowed us to monitor the activity of ANT by continuously detecting the ATP gradually produced inside the mitochondria and exported in the extramitochondrial phase in exchange with externally added ADP, under conditions quite close to a physiological state, i.e., when oxidative phosphorylation takes place. More than 30 years after the development of the method, here we aim to put the spotlight on it and to emphasize its versatile applicability in the most varied pathophysiological conditions, reviewing all the studies, in which we were able to observe what really happened in the cell thanks to the use of the "ATP detecting system" allowing the functional activity of the ANT-mediated ADP/ATP exchange to be measured.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22084164DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8073645PMC
April 2021

Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Plus Omega-3 Restores the Mitochondrial Complex I and FF-ATP Synthase Activities in PBMCs of Young Children with Down Syndrome: A Pilot Study of Safety and Efficacy.

Antioxidants (Basel) 2021 Mar 16;10(3). Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Department of Translational Medical Sciences, Section of Pediatrics, Federico II University, 80131 Naples, Italy.

Down syndrome (DS) is a major genetic cause of intellectual disability. DS pathogenesis has not been fully elucidated, and no specific pharmacological therapy is available. DYRK1A overexpression, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction were described in trisomy 21. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a multimodal nutraceutical with antioxidant properties. EGCG inhibits DYRK1A overexpression and corrects DS mitochondrial dysfunction in vitro. The present study explores safety profiles in DS children aged 1-8 years treated with EGCG (10 mg/kg/die, suspended in omega-3, per os, in fasting conditions, for 6 months) and EGCG efficacy in restoring mitochondrial complex I and FF-ATP synthase (complex V) deficiency, assessed on PBMCs. The Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales-Extended Revised (GMDS-ER) was used for developmental profiling. Results show that decaffeinated EGCG (>90%) plus omega-3 is safe in DS children and effective in reverting the deficit of mitochondrial complex I and V activities. Decline of plasma folates was observed in 21% of EGCG-treated patients and should be carefully monitored. GMDS-ER scores did not show differences between the treated group compared to the DS control group. In conclusion, EGCG plus omega-3 can be safely administered under medical supervision in DS children aged 1-8 years to normalize mitochondria respiratory chain complex activities, while results on the improvement of developmental performance are still inconclusive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/antiox10030469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8002266PMC
March 2021

Antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is extremely vivacious in subjects with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.

J Med Virol 2021 Mar 31. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Division of Infectious Diseases, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic calls for rapid actions, now principally oriented to a world-wide vaccination campaign. In this study we verified if, in individuals with a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, a single dose of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine would be immunologically equivalent to a full vaccine schedule in naïve individuals. Health care workers (184) with a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection were sampled soon before the second dose of vaccine and between 7 and 10 days after the second dose, the last sampling time was applied to SARS-CoV-2 naïve individuals, too. Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were measured using Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S immunoassay. The study was powered for non-inferiority. We used non parametric tests and Pearson correlation test to perform inferential analysis. After a single vaccine injection, the median titer of specific antibodies in individuals with previous coronavirus disease 2019 was 30.527 U/ml (interquartile range [IQR]: 19.992-39.288) and in subjects with previous SARS-CoV-2 asymptomatic infection was 19.367.5 U/ml (IQR: 14.688-31.353) (p = .032). Both results were far above the median titer in naïve individuals after a full vaccination schedule: 1974.5 U/ml (IQR: 895-3455) (p < .0001). Adverse events after vaccine injection were more frequent after the second dose of vaccine (mean: 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-1.14 vs. mean: 1.91; 95% CI: 1.63-2.19) (p < .0001) and in exposed compared to naïve (mean: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.28-1.98 vs. mean: 2.35; 95% CI: 1.87-2.82) (p = .015). In SARS-CoV-2 naturally infected individuals a single mRNA vaccine dose seems sufficient to reach immunity. Modifying current dosing schedules would speed-up vaccination campaigns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmv.26982DOI Listing
March 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection in persons living with HIV: A single center prospective cohort.

J Med Virol 2021 02 8;93(2):1145-1149. Epub 2020 Oct 8.

Department of Laboratory, Biobanking Unit, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy.

Information about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in HIV-infected individuals is scarce. In this prospective study, we included HIV (human immunodefeciency virus)-infected individuals (people living with HIV [PLWHIV]) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and compared them with PLWHIV negative for SARS-CoV-2. We compared 55 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection with 69 asymptomatic PLWHIV negative for SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and/or serology. There was no significant difference between SARS-CoV-2 positive or negative patients for age distribution, gender, time with HIV infection, nadir CD4-cell counts, type and number of co-morbidities, current CD4 and CD8 counts and type of anti-HIV therapy. Positive patients presented with a median of three symptoms (interquartile range, 1-3). Most common symptoms were fever (76%), dyspnea (35%), anosmia (29%) non-productive cough (27%), fatigue 22%), and ageusia (20%). Ten patients (18%) were completely asymptomatic. Four (7.2%) subjects died of coronavirus disease 2019. Factors significantly (P < .05) associated with death included age and number of co-morbidities, while time from HIV infection and lower current CD4 counts were significant only in univariate analysis. HIV-infected individuals are not protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection or have a lower risk of severe disease. Indeed, those with low CD4 cell counts might have worse outcomes. Infection is asymptomatic in a large proportion of subjects and this is relevant for epidemiological studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmv.26352DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7404443PMC
February 2021

The Anti-Diabetic Drug Metformin Rescues Aberrant Mitochondrial Activity and Restrains Oxidative Stress in a Female Mouse Model of Rett Syndrome.

J Clin Med 2020 Jun 1;9(6). Epub 2020 Jun 1.

Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Metformin is the first-line therapy for diabetes, even in children, and a promising attractive candidate for drug repurposing. Mitochondria are emerging as crucial targets of metformin action both in the periphery and in the brain. The present study evaluated whether treatment with metformin may rescue brain mitochondrial alterations and contrast the increased oxidative stress in a validated mouse model of Rett syndrome (RTT), a rare neurologic disorder of monogenic origin characterized by severe behavioral and physiological symptoms. No cure for RTT is available. In fully symptomatic RTT mice (12 months old MeCP2-308 heterozygous female mice), systemic treatment with metformin (100 mg/kg ip for 10 days) normalized the reduced mitochondrial ATP production and ATP levels in the whole-brain, reduced brain oxidative damage, and rescued the increased production of reactive oxidizing species in blood. A 10-day long treatment with metformin also boosted pathways related to mitochondrial biogenesis and antioxidant defense in the brain of metformin-treated RTT mice. This treatment regimen did not improve general health status and motor dysfunction in RTT mice at an advanced stage of the disease. Present results provide evidence that systemic treatment with metformin may represent a novel, repurposable therapeutic strategy for RTT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061669DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7355965PMC
June 2020

Patient-Reported Outcomes in an Observational Cohort of HIV-1-Infected Adults on Darunavir/Cobicistat-Based Regimens: Beyond Viral Suppression.

Patient 2020 06;13(3):375-387

Medical Affairs Department, Infectious Diseases, Janssen-Cilag SpA, Via Michelangelo Buonarroti, 23, Cologno Monzese, 20093, Milan, Italy.

Objective: This prospective, multicenter, non-interventional cohort study enrolling human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-infected, virally suppressed adult outpatients in Italy aimed to describe results obtained from patient-reported outcome questionnaires regarding treatment satisfaction and symptom perceptions in HIV-1-positive patients who switched to cobicistat-boosted darunavir antiretroviral regimens, coming from ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitors.

Methods: Patients entered this study between June 2016 and February 2017, once their treating physician had considered them eligible for cobicistat-boosted darunavir-based treatment as per clinical practice. Patients' satisfaction regarding regimen and current symptom burdens were assessed using two previously validated, patient-reported outcome questionnaires: HIV Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire (HIV-TSQ) and HIV Symptoms Distress Module (HIV-SDM). These questionnaires were administered at prespecified time-points: enrollment (Visit 1), 4-8 weeks later (Visit 2), and 48 ± 6 weeks after study enrollment (Visit 4). Data of patient-reported outcome total scores for both questionnaires are presented as median with 25th-75th percentiles. Questionnaires scores were analyzed overall and stratified by gender when applicable. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to evaluate the role of lost to follow-up, using the "last observation carried forward" method.

Results: A total of 348 patients were enrolled in this study; 296 patients (208 male and 88 female) provided both evaluable HIV-TSQ and HIV-SDM at enrollment and at 4-8 weeks, while 250 patients (174 male and 76 female) provided questionnaire data at enrollment and at 48 ± 6 weeks. The total scores of HIV-TSQ showed improvements in patient satisfaction in the overall population both at Visit 2 and Visit 4 (p < 0.001, sign test) and also when stratified by gender throughout the study period. In addition, the overall burden of symptoms, as shown by the HIV-SDM scores, decreased.

Conclusions: Switching to a cobicistat-boosted darunavir-based therapy led to overall increased patient satisfaction and reduced symptom burden when compared with previous regimens. The use of patient-reported outcomes in clinical daily practice could provide a useful tool towards achieving guideline goals to achieve "fourth 90", having 90% of virally suppressed patients with a good health-related quality of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40271-020-00413-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7210246PMC
June 2020

Aberrant mitochondrial bioenergetics in the cerebral cortex of the Fmr1 knockout mouse model of fragile X syndrome.

Biol Chem 2020 03;401(4):497-503

Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation (IRIB), National Research Council (CNR), Via Paolo Gaifami 18, I-95126 Catania, Italy.

Impaired energy metabolism may play a role in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders including fragile X syndrome (FXS). We checked brain energy status and some aspects of cell bioenergetics, namely the activity of key glycolytic enzymes, glycerol-3-phosphate shuttle and mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) complexes, in the cerebral cortex of the Fmr1 knockout (KO) mouse model of FXS. We found that, despite a hyperactivation of MRC complexes, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production via mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is compromised, resulting in brain energy impairment in juvenile and late-adult Fmr1 KO mice. Thus, an altered mitochondrial energy metabolism may contribute to neurological impairment in FXS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2019-0221DOI Listing
March 2020

Brain-Immune Alterations and Mitochondrial Dysfunctions in a Mouse Model of Paediatric Autoimmune Disorder Associated with Streptococcus: Exacerbation by Chronic Psychosocial Stress.

J Clin Med 2019 Sep 20;8(10). Epub 2019 Sep 20.

Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, I-00161 Rome, Italy.

Adverse psychosocial experiences have been shown to modulate individual responses to immune challenges and affect mitochondrial functions. The aim of this study was to investigate inflammation and immune responses as well as mitochondrial bioenergetics in an experimental model of Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS). Starting in adolescence (postnatal day 28), male SJL/J mice were exposed to five injections (interspaced by two weeks) with Group-A beta-haemolytic streptococcus (GAS) homogenate. Mice were exposed to chronic psychosocial stress, in the form of protracted visual exposure to an aggressive conspecific, for four weeks. Our results indicate that psychosocial stress exacerbated individual response to GAS administrations whereby mice exposed to both treatments exhibited altered cytokine and immune-related enzyme expression in the hippocampus and hypothalamus. Additionally, they showed impaired mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes IV and V, and reduced adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production by mitochondria and ATP content. These brain abnormalities, observed in GAS-Stress mice, were associated with blunted titers of plasma corticosterone. Present data support the hypothesis that challenging environmental conditions, in terms of chronic psychosocial stress, may exacerbate the long-term consequences of exposure to GAS processes through the promotion of central immunomodulatory and oxidative stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm8101514DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6833026PMC
September 2019

Down syndrome: Neurobiological alterations and therapeutic targets.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2019 03 4;98:234-255. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Applied Biotechnology Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disease that occurs due to an aneuploidy of human chromosome 21. Trisomy of chromosome 21 is a primary genetic cause of developmental abnormalities leading to cognitive and learning deficits. Impairments in GABAergic transmission, noradrenergic neuronal loss, anomalous glutamatergic transmission and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor signalling, mitochondrial dysfunction, increased oxidative stress and inflammation, differentially expressed microRNAs, increased expression of crucial chromosome 21 genes, and DNA hyper-methylation and hyperactive homocysteine trans-sulfuration pathway, are common incongruities that have been reported in DS and might contribute to cognitive impairment and intellectual disability. This review provides an update on metabolic and neurobiological alterations in DS. It also provides an overview of the currently available pharmacological therapies that may influence and/or reverse these alterations in DS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.01.001DOI Listing
March 2019

Rescue of prepulse inhibition deficit and brain mitochondrial dysfunction by pharmacological stimulation of the central serotonin receptor 7 in a mouse model of CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder.

Neuropharmacology 2019 01 13;144:104-114. Epub 2018 Oct 13.

Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 00161 Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Mutations in the X-linked cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5) gene cause CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder (CDD), a rare neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by severe behavioural and physiological symptoms. No cure is available for CDD. CDKL5 is a kinase that is abundantly expressed in the brain and plays a critical role in neurodevelopmental processes, such as neuronal morphogenesis and plasticity. This study provides the first characterization of the neurobehavioural phenotype of 1 year old Cdkl5-null mice and demonstrates that stimulation of the serotonin receptor 7 (5-HTR) with the agonist molecule LP-211 (0.25 mg/kg once/day for 7 days) partially rescues the abnormal phenotype and brain molecular alterations in Cdkl5-null male mice. In particular, LP-211 treatment completely normalizes the prepulse inhibition defects observed in Cdkl5-null mice and, at a molecular level, restores the abnormal cortical phosphorylation of rpS6, a downstream target of mTOR and S6 kinase, which plays a direct role in regulating protein synthesis. Moreover, we demonstrate for the first time that mitochondria show prominent functional abnormalities in Cdkl5-null mouse brains that can be restored by pharmacological stimulation of brain 5-HTR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.10.018DOI Listing
January 2019

Activation of the Calcium-Sensing Receptor Corrects the Impaired Mitochondrial Energy Status Observed in Renal Polycystin-1 Knockdown Cells Modeling Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Front Mol Biosci 2018 24;5:77. Epub 2018 Aug 24.

Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and Biopharmaceutics, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Autosomal Dominant Polycistic kidney Disease (ADPKD) is a renal channelopathy due to loss-of-function mutations in the or genes, encoding polycystin-1 (PC1) or polycystin-2 (PC2), respectively. PC1 is a large protein found predominantly on the plasma membrane where interacts with different proteins, including PC2. PC2 is a smaller integral membrane protein also expressed in intracellular organelles, acting as a non-selective cation channel permeable to calcium. Both PC1 and PC2 are also localized to the primary cilium of renal epithelial cells serving as mechanosensor that controls calcium influx through the plasma membrane and regulates intracellular calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum. The mechanisms by which PC1/2 dysfunction leads to ADPKD needs still to be clarified. We have recently reported that selective Calcium-Sensing Receptor (CaSR) activation in human conditionally immortalized Proximal Tubular Epithelial cells deficient for PC1 (ciPTEC-PC1KD), deriving from urine sediments reduces intracellular cAMP and mTOR activity, and increases intracellular calcium reversing the principal ADPKD dysregulations. Reduced cellular free calcium found in ADPKD can, on the other hand, affect mitochondrial function and ATP production and, interestingly, a relationship between mitochondria and renal polycystic diseases have been suggested. By using ciPTEC-PC1KD as experimental tool modeling of ADPKD, we show here that, compared with wild type cells, ciPTEC-PC1KD have significantly lower mitochondrial calcium levels associated with a severe deficit in mitochondrial ATP production, secondary to a multilevel impairment of oxidative phosphorylation. Notably, selective CaSR activation with the calcimimetic NPS-R568 increases mitochondrial calcium content close to the levels found in resting wild type cells, and fully recovers the cell energy deficit associated to the PC1 channel disruption. Treatment of ciPTEC-PC1KD with 2-APB, an IP3R inhibitor, prevented the rescue of bioenergetics deficit induced by CaSR activation supporting a critical role of IP3Rs in driving ER-to-mitochondria Ca2+ shuttle. Together these data indicate that, besides reversing the principal dysregulations considered the most proximal events in ADPKD pathogenesis, selective CaSR activation in PKD1 deficient cells restores altered mitochondrial function that, in ADPKD, is known to facilitate cyst formation. These findings identify CaSR as a potential therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmolb.2018.00077DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6117232PMC
August 2018

Inhibition of Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission improves mitochondrial dynamics and bioenergetics stimulating neurogenesis in hippocampal progenitor cells from a Down syndrome mouse model.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2017 12 20;1863(12):3117-3127. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

Institute of Biomembranes, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnologies, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Functional and structural damages to mitochondria have been critically associated with the pathogenesis of Down syndrome (DS), a human multifactorial disease caused by trisomy of chromosome 21 and associated with neurodevelopmental delay, intellectual disability and early neurodegeneration. Recently, we demonstrated in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) isolated from the hippocampus of Ts65Dn mice -a widely used model of DS - a severe impairment of mitochondrial bioenergetics and biogenesis and reduced NPC proliferation. Here we further investigated the origin of mitochondrial dysfunction in DS and explored a possible mechanistic link among alteration of mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial dysfunctions and defective neurogenesis in DS. We first analyzed mitochondrial network and structure by both confocal and transmission electron microscopy as well as by evaluating the levels of key proteins involved in the fission and fusion machinery. We found a fragmentation of mitochondria due to an increase in mitochondrial fission associated with an up-regulation of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), and a decrease in mitochondrial fusion associated with a down-regulation of mitofusin 2 (Mnf2) and increased proteolysis of optic atrophy 1 (Opa1). Next, using the well-known neuroprotective agent mitochondrial division inhibitor 1 (Mdivi-1), we assessed whether the inhibition of mitochondrial fission might reverse alteration of mitochondrial dynamics and mitochondrial dysfunctions in DS neural progenitors cells. We demonstrate here for the first time, that Mdivi-1 restores mitochondrial network organization, mitochondrial energy production and ultimately improves proliferation and neuronal differentiation of NPCs. This research paves the way for the discovery of new therapeutic tools in managing some DS-associated clinical manifestations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2017.09.014DOI Listing
December 2017

Mitochondria as pharmacological targets in Down syndrome.

Free Radic Biol Med 2018 01 31;114:69-83. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Institute of Biomembranes, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnologies, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Mitochondria play a pivotal role in cellular energy-generating processes and are considered master regulators of cell life and death fate. Mitochondrial function integrates signalling networks in several metabolic pathways controlling neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Indeed, dysfunctional mitochondria and mitochondrial-dependent activation of intracellular stress cascades are critical initiating events in many human neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental diseases including Down syndrome (DS). It is well established that trisomy of human chromosome 21 can cause DS. DS is associated with neurodevelopmental delay, intellectual disability and early neurodegeneration. Recently, molecular mechanisms responsible for mitochondrial damage and energy deficits have been identified and characterized in several DS-derived human cells and animal models of DS. Therefore, therapeutic strategies targeting mitochondria could have great potential for new treatment regimens in DS. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent studies concerning mitochondrial impairment in DS, focusing on alterations of the molecular pathways controlling mitochondrial function. We will also discuss the effects and molecular mechanisms of naturally occurring and chemically synthetized drugs that exert neuroprotective effects through modulation of mitochondrial function and attenuation of oxidative stress. These compounds might represent novel therapeutic tools for the modulation of energy deficits in DS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2017.08.014DOI Listing
January 2018

Stimulation of the brain serotonin receptor 7 rescues mitochondrial dysfunction in female mice from two models of Rett syndrome.

Neuropharmacology 2017 Jul 15;121:79-88. Epub 2017 Apr 15.

Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by severe behavioral and physiological symptoms. Mutations in the methyl CpG binding protein 2 gene (MECP2) cause more than 95% of classic cases, and currently there is no cure for this devastating disorder. Recently we have demonstrated that neurobehavioral and brain molecular alterations can be rescued in a RTT mouse model, by pharmacological stimulation of the brain serotonin receptor 7 (5-HT7R). This member of the serotonin receptor family, crucially involved in the regulation of brain structural plasticity and cognitive processes, can be stimulated by systemic repeated treatment with LP-211, a brain-penetrant selective agonist. The present study extends previous findings by demonstrating that LP-211 treatment (0.25 mg/kg, once per day for 7 days) rescues mitochondrial respiratory chain impairment, oxidative phosphorylation deficiency and the reduced energy status in the brain of heterozygous female mice from two highly validated mouse models of RTT (MeCP2-308 and MeCP2-Bird mice). Moreover, LP-211 treatment completely restored the radical species overproduction by brain mitochondria in the MeCP2-308 model and partially recovered the oxidative imbalance in the more severely affected MeCP2-Bird model. These results provide the first evidence that RTT brain mitochondrial dysfunction can be rescued targeting the brain 5-HT7R and add compelling preclinical evidence of the potential therapeutic value of LP-211 as a pharmacological approach for this devastating neurodevelopmental disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.04.024DOI Listing
July 2017

Lamivudine/dolutegravir dual therapy in HIV-infected, virologically suppressed patients.

BMC Infect Dis 2017 03 16;17(1):215. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Modena, Modena, Italy.

Background: Little is known about the applicability of dual treatments based on integrase inhibitors. We explored the combination of lamivudine + dolutegravir as an option when switching from standard cART in virologically suppressed patients.

Methods: In this prospective cohort we enrolled patients previously switched to 3TC + DTG who were 18 years or older, with no previous resistance mutations to the used drugs, having a HIV-RNA <50 copies/ml for 6 months or longer, negative for HBsAg and on a stable (>6 months) cART.

Results: Ninety-four individuals were included. They were mostly men (77.7%) with a mean age of 53 years. They presented 159 co-morbidities including cardiovascular, bone, hepatic, kidney, and CNS diseases. Because of these pathologies, they took 207 non-ARV drugs (mean 2.2 per patient). Median duration of viral suppression was 77.5 months (IQR 61). All subjects were prospectively followed up to week 24 and all remained on dual therapy during the whole period. Neither virological failure, nor viral blip was detected. The median CD4 count rose from 658 cells/mcl (IQR 403) to 724 cells/mcl (IQR 401) (P = 0.006) without a significant (P = 0.44) change in the CD4/CD8 ratio. A significant (P < 0.0001) increment of median creatinine from 0.87 mg/dl (IQR 0.34) to 0.95 mg/dl (IQR 0.29) was observed in the first 2 months but thereafter leveled on these values (1.00 mg/dl; IQR 0.35) (P = 0.111 compared to 2 months). The lipid profile slightly improved. The daily cost of cART was significantly (P < 0.0001) reduced of 6.89 euros (SD 6.10).

Discussion: Switching to a dual cART regimen based on lamivudine + dolutegravir maintains virological efficacy up to week 24, and is associated to slight improvements of the immunologic and metabolic status. The strategy allows to freely using concomitant medications for associated pathologies. The dual therapy is less expensive in economic terms.

Conclusion: Although still limited evidence exists, a dolutegravir-based dual therapy in combination with lamivudine shows promising results to be confirmed in larger controlled trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12879-017-2311-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356275PMC
March 2017

Plant polyphenols as natural drugs for the management of Down syndrome and related disorders.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2016 Dec 5;71:865-877. Epub 2016 Nov 5.

Applied Biotechnology Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 19395 5487, Tehran, Iran; Bioactive Natural Products, Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address:

Polyphenols are secondary metabolites of plants largely found in fruits, vegetables, cereals and beverages, and therefore represent important constituents of the human diet. Increasing studies have demonstrated the potential beneficial effects of polyphenols on human health. Extensive reviews have discussed the protective effects of polyphenols against a series of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders. Limited studies have investigated the potential therapeutic effects of these natural compounds on neurodevelopmental disorders associated with intellectual disability, such as Down syndrome (DS), for which mitochondrial dysfunctions and oxidative stress are hallmarks and contribute to the deleterious symptoms and cognitive decline. This review, starting from the structure, source, bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of relevant polyphenols, highlights recent studies on the effect and potential molecular mechanism(s) of action of the phenolic compounds epigallocatechin-3-gallate, resveratrol and hydroxytyrosol in restoring mitochondrial energy deficit and in reversing phenotypical alteration in DS. The clinical implications of plant polyphenol dietary supplements as therapeutic tools in managing DS and other intellectual disability-related diseases, is also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.10.023DOI Listing
December 2016

The polyphenols resveratrol and epigallocatechin-3-gallate restore the severe impairment of mitochondria in hippocampal progenitor cells from a Down syndrome mouse model.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2016 06 7;1862(6):1093-104. Epub 2016 Mar 7.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Mitochondrial dysfunctions critically impair nervous system development and are potentially involved in the pathogenesis of various neurodevelopmental disorders, including Down syndrome (DS), the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability. Previous studies from our group demonstrated impaired mitochondrial activity in peripheral cells from DS subjects and the efficacy of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) - a natural polyphenol major component of green tea - to counteract the mitochondrial energy deficit. In this study, to gain insight into the possible role of mitochondria in DS intellectual disability, mitochondrial functions were analyzed in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) isolated from the hippocampus of Ts65Dn mice, a widely used model of DS which recapitulates many major brain structural and functional phenotypes of the syndrome, including impaired hippocampal neurogenesis. We found that, during NPC proliferation, mitochondrial bioenergetics and mitochondrial biogenic program were strongly compromised in Ts65Dn cells, but not associated with free radical accumulation. These data point to a central role of mitochondrial dysfunction as an inherent feature of DS and not as a consequence of cell oxidative stress. Further, we disclose that, besides EGCG, also the natural polyphenol resveratrol, which displays a neuroprotective action in various human diseases but never tested in DS, restores oxidative phosphorylation efficiency and mitochondrial biogenesis, and improves proliferation of NPCs. These effects were associated with the activation of PGC-1α/Sirt1/AMPK axis by both polyphenols. This research paves the way for using nutraceuticals as a potential therapeutic tool in preventing or managing some energy deficit-associated DS clinical manifestations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2016.03.003DOI Listing
June 2016

NRTI Sparing Therapy in Virologically Controlled HIV-1 Infected Subjects: Results of a Controlled, Randomized Trial (Probe).

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2016 05;72(1):46-51

*Division of Infectious Diseases, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy; and †Laboratory of Virology and Microbiology, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy.

Dual treatments could help clinicians to avoid drawbacks and toxicities due to the nucleosidic backbone, while maintaining the efficacy and convenience of robust combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). We explored the combination of rilpivirine plus boosted darunavir (DRV) as an option when switching from standard cART in patients who are virologically suppressed. In this randomized, open-label, proof-of-concept, noninferiority trial, we recruited patients aged 18 years or older with chronic HIV-1 infection and on a stable, effective (>6 months) protease inhibitor-based cART including a nucleosidic backbone. The primary endpoint was noninferiority of the virological response between treatment groups, according to FDA snapshot approach. Sixty patients were randomly allocated to dual treatment with rilpivirine plus boosted DRV or to continue their ongoing triple treatment. Noninferiority was shown at the prespecified level of -12% both at 24 and 48 weeks. At week 24, 100% of patients in the dual arm presented a blood HIV-RNA level <50 copies per milliliter compared with 90.1% in the triple drug arm (difference 9.9%, 95% CI: -0.7 to 20.7), whereas, at 48 weeks, the same proportions were 96.7% and 93.4%, respectively (difference 3.3%, 95% CI: -7.15 to 13.5). The mean change in CD4 cell count from baseline was 6.0 cells per microliter (SD, 184) for dual treatment and 16.5 cells per microliter (SD, 142) for triple treatment. A relevant decrement in CD838HLADR cells was observed in both arms. The reduction was, however, significantly more pronounced in the dual-therapy arm. At week 48, the CD838HLADR cell count was 3.4% (SD, 2.2) in the dual-therapy arm and 5.2% (SD, 3.1) in the triple arm (P = 0.018). None of the patients developed severe adverse events nor had to stop treatment because of adverse events or presented grade 3-4 laboratory abnormalities. A greater reduction of bone stiffness (-2.25; SD, 7.1) was observed in patients randomized to continue triple therapy compared with patients switched to dual therapy (-0.32; SD, 8.8). Finally, baseline HIV-DNA content directly correlated with pre-cART viral load of patients (P = 0.021), but not with time on cART or time with HIV-RNA below 50 copies per milliliter. Independently of the study arm, patients with a n HIV-RNA level constantly above 3 copies per milliliter or showing viral blips had baseline HIV-DNA levels significantly higher (64,656 copies per 10 cells; SD, 93057) compared with patients who constantly presented a HIV-RNA level below the detection limit of 3 copies per milliliter (14,457 copies per 10 cells; SD, 14098) (P = 0.001). A rilpivirine-boosted plus ritonavir-boosted DRV therapy was not inferior over 48 weeks to a standard boosted protease inhibitor-based triple cART. The dual therapy did not negatively affect lipid profile and renal function and was more friendly on bone metabolism. This approach constitutes an alternative for patients experiencing nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-related toxicities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/QAI.0000000000000966DOI Listing
May 2016

3-Bromopyruvate induces rapid human prostate cancer cell death by affecting cell energy metabolism, GSH pool and the glyoxalase system.

J Bioenerg Biomembr 2015 Dec 3;47(6):493-506. Epub 2015 Nov 3.

Istituto di Biomembrane e Bioenergetica, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via G. Amendola, 165/A, 70126, Bari, Italy.

3-bromopyruvate (3-BP) is an anti-tumour drug effective on hepatocellular carcinoma and other tumour cell types, which affects both glycolytic and mitochondrial targets, depleting cellular ATP pool. Here we tested 3-BP on human prostate cancer cells showing, differently from other tumour types, efficient ATP production and functional mitochondrial metabolism. We found that 3-BP rapidly induced cultured androgen-insensitive (PC-3) and androgen-responsive (LNCaP) prostate cancer cell death at low concentrations (IC(50) values of 50 and 70 μM, respectively) with a multimodal mechanism of action. In particular, 3-BP-treated PC-3 cells showed a selective, strong reduction of glyceraldeide 3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity, due to the direct interaction of the drug with the enzyme. Moreover, 3-BP strongly impaired both glutamate/malate- and succinate-dependent mitochondrial respiration, membrane potential generation and ATP synthesis, concomitant with the inhibition of respiratory chain complex I, II and ATP synthase activities. The drastic reduction of cellular ATP levels and depletion of GSH pool, associated with significant increase in cell oxidative stress, were found after 3-BP treatment of PC-3 cells. Interestingly, the activity of both glyoxalase I and II, devoted to the elimination of the cytotoxic methylglyoxal, was strongly inhibited by 3-BP. Both N-acetylcysteine and aminoguanidine, GSH precursor and methylglyoxal scavenger, respectively, prevented 3-BP-induced PC-3 cell death, showing that impaired cell antioxidant and detoxifying capacities are crucial events leading to cell death. The provided information on the multi-target cytotoxic action of 3-BP, finally leading to PC-3 cell necrosis, might be useful for future development of 3-BP as a therapeutic option for prostate cancer treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10863-015-9631-yDOI Listing
December 2015

Green tea EGCG plus fish oil omega-3 dietary supplements rescue mitochondrial dysfunctions and are safe in a Down's syndrome child.

Clin Nutr 2015 Aug 25;34(4):783-4. Epub 2015 Apr 25.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2015.04.012DOI Listing
August 2015

Modulation of Rho GTPases rescues brain mitochondrial dysfunction, cognitive deficits and aberrant synaptic plasticity in female mice modeling Rett syndrome.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2015 Jun 30;25(6):889-901. Epub 2015 Mar 30.

Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy.

Rho GTPases are molecules critically involved in neuronal plasticity and cognition. We have previously reported that modulation of brain Rho GTPases by the bacterial toxin CNF1 rescues the neurobehavioral phenotype in MeCP2-308 male mice, a model of Rett syndrome (RTT). RTT is a rare X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder and a genetic cause of intellectual disability, for which no effective therapy is available. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been proposed to be involved in the mechanism of the disease pathogenesis. Here we demonstrate that modulation of Rho GTPases by CNF1 rescues the reduced mitochondrial ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation in the brain of MeCP2-308 heterozygous female mice, the condition which more closely recapitulates that of RTT patients. In RTT mouse brain, CNF1 also restores the alterations in the activity of the mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) complexes and of ATP synthase, the molecular machinery responsible for the majority of cell energy production. Such effects were achieved through the upregulation of the protein content of those MRC complexes subunits, which were defective in RTT mouse brain. Restored mitochondrial functionality was accompanied by the rescue of deficits in cognitive function (spatial reference memory in the Barnes maze), synaptic plasticity (long-term potentiation) and Tyr1472 phosphorylation of GluN2B, which was abnormally enhanced in the hippocampus of RTT mice. Present findings bring into light previously unknown functional mitochondrial alterations in the brain of female mice modeling RTT and provide the first evidence that RTT brain mitochondrial dysfunction can be rescued by modulation of Rho GTPases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.03.012DOI Listing
June 2015

Mitochondrial free radical overproduction due to respiratory chain impairment in the brain of a mouse model of Rett syndrome: protective effect of CNF1.

Free Radic Biol Med 2015 Jun 20;83:167-77. Epub 2015 Feb 20.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder mainly caused by mutations in the X-linked MECP2 gene associated with severe intellectual disability, movement disorders, and autistic-like behaviors. Its pathogenesis remains mostly not understood and no effective therapy is available. High circulating levels of oxidative stress markers in patients and the occurrence of oxidative brain damage in MeCP2-deficient mouse models suggest the involvement of oxidative stress in RTT pathogenesis. However, the molecular mechanism and the origin of the oxidative stress have not been elucidated. Here we demonstrate that a redox imbalance arises from aberrant mitochondrial functionality in the brain of MeCP2-308 heterozygous female mice, a condition that more closely recapitulates that of RTT patients. The marked increase in the rate of hydrogen peroxide generation in the brain of RTT mice seems mainly produced by the dysfunctional complex II of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In addition, both membrane potential generation and mitochondrial ATP synthesis are decreased in RTT mouse brains when succinate, the complex II respiratory substrate, is used as an energy source. Respiratory chain impairment is brain area specific, owing to a decrease in either cAMP-dependent phosphorylation or protein levels of specific complex subunits. Further, we investigated whether the treatment of RTT mice with the bacterial protein CNF1, previously reported to ameliorate the neurobehavioral phenotype and brain bioenergetic markers in an RTT mouse model, exerts specific effects on brain mitochondrial function and consequently on hydrogen peroxide production. In RTT brains treated with CNF1, we observed the reactivation of respiratory chain complexes, the rescue of mitochondrial functionality, and the prevention of brain hydrogen peroxide overproduction. These results provide definitive evidence of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species overproduction in RTT mouse brain and highlight CNF1 efficacy in counteracting RTT-related mitochondrial defects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2015.02.014DOI Listing
June 2015

Switching from an EFV-based STR to a RPV-based STR is effective, safe and improves HIV patients health status.

J Int AIDS Soc 2014 2;17(4 Suppl 3):19798. Epub 2014 Nov 2.

Drug Science, School of Pharmacy, Pavia, Italy.

Introduction: TDF/FTC/RPV has been shown effective in both naïve and PI-pre-treated patients. Less is known about a switch strategy in subjects receiving EFV.

Materials And Methods: We evaluated viro-immunologic outcomes, Quality of Life (QoL) and costs of an unselected cohort of patients switching from a TDF/FTC/EFV STR (≥6 months duration) to a TDF/FTC/RPV STR. The considered outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) as measured with the EQ5D questionnaire and the overall direct health costs. 64 patients with a baseline viral load<50 copies/mL were randomized to immediately switch therapy or to continue TDF/FTC/EFV for four months and then switch to TDF/FTC/RPV. Six patients in the deferred switch group did not actually change cART.

Results: Patients were mostly males (73.4%) with a mean age of 46 years, a baseline mean HIV-RNA of 6.4 copies/mL and a mean baseline CD4 count of 588 cells/µL. For the considered follow-up period, the mean cost per patient resulted 2,563 for TDF/FTC/RPV and 2,572 for TDF/FTC/EFV. Viremia remained undetectable and CD4 stable in all patients. Over time the mean QoL increased in the RPV arm ad slightly decreased in the EFV arm, after four months the mean per patient QALYs was 0.849 for RPV and 0.841 for EFV, respectively (Figure 1). A sharp increment of QoL was observed in the deferred-switch arm after switch, too. VAS analysis of health status perception also increased overall from 82.78 to 83.79 due to the improvement in the RPV arm. Mean cholesterol levels improved in the RPV arm from 203 to 170 mg/dL, while an increment from 190 to 207 mg/dL was observed in the EFV arm. HDL levels lowered from 49 to 45 and rose from 53 to 54 mg/dL in the RPV and EFV arms, respectively. Triglycerides levels improved both in the RPV arm (from 138 to 112 mg/dL) and in the EFV arm (from 110 to 103 mg/dL).

Conclusions: Switching from TDF/FTC/EFV to TDF/FTC/RPV is a safe, well tolerated strategy that improves the overall health status of HIV-treated patients. The switch does not expose patients to a risk of virologic failure due to possible PK interactions of the drugs. RPV compared to EFV proved to be cost-effective showing lower cost and higher outcome measure values.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225414PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.17.4.19798DOI Listing
January 2016

Long-term effect of a four-drugs induction regimen for patients with high baseline viral load.

J Int AIDS Soc 2014 2;17(4 Suppl 3):19776. Epub 2014 Nov 2.

Laboratory of Virology and Microbiology, AO Papa Giovanni XXIII Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy.

Introduction: The long-term effects of an intensified induction regimen are unknown. In this pilot, randomized, prospective study we evaluate the effect of a short-term four-drugs induction regimen in patients with high baseline viral load.

Methods: Naive patients with HIV-RNA>100.000 copies/ml receiving TDF+FTC+EFV+RAL (group ER) for 4 months and were then simplified to TDF+FTC+EFV. Two randomized control groups treated ab-initio with TDF+FTC+EFV (E) or TDF+FTC+RAL (R) were used.

Results: 19 patients with a mean age of 38 years and mean baseline CD4 count of 334 (SD 216) cells/mcL and HIV-RNA of 5.47 log (SD 0.32) copies/mL were enrolled. No baseline significant difference was observed among groups. Early HIV-RNA reduction was significantly higher in ER compared to the other groups from week 1 to week 4 (P from 0.026 to 0.003) (figure 1), thereafter HIV-RNA values were comparable among the groups. At week 96, all patients had an HIV-RNA < 50 copies/mL, however only patients in the ER group had in all cases an HIV-RNA level < 3 copies/mL with a statistically significant difference compared to E (60%; P=0.038) and R (50%; P=0.020). At 96 weeks, CD4 cell median counts were 765 cells/mcL for ER, 600 cells/mcL for E and 771 for R (P=0.16), however patients in the ER group presented a lower proportion of activated CD4+CD38+HLADR+ cells (1.9% versus 3.9 and 3.8%) and CD8+CD38+HLADR+ cells (10.3% versus 16.8 and 16.5%) and a significantly better CD4/CD8 ratio (0.98 versus 0.53 and 0.61; P=0.03).

Conclusions: A four-drug regimen in naive patients with high pre-therapy viral load improves early virologic response. A quick drop of HIV-RNA seems to correlate with a sustained virologic response. Although limited in time (four months), the four-drug regimens correlates with an improved immunological response as measured by the CD4/CD8 ratio or the percentage of activated CD4+ and CD8+ cells. The reasons why this happens deserve further studies. This study highlights the importance of a personalised therapy especially in high risk patients.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225274PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.17.4.19776DOI Listing
January 2016

Early clinical response and presence of viral resistant minority variants: a proof of concept study.

J Int AIDS Soc 2014 2;17(4 Suppl 3):19759. Epub 2014 Nov 2.

USC Infectious Diseases, AO Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy.

Introduction: Traditional genotyping assays detect viral variants present in at least 15-25% of the entire virus population. We tested the Next generation GS Junior System (NGS) setted with a detection limit of 0.05% and evaluated the clinical relevance of low prevalent mutations.

Methods: NGS was performed on the plasma of 26 infected individuals who started a TDF/FTC/RPV (15 subjects) or TDF/FTC/EFV (11 subjects) cART after a routine HIV-1 drug-resistance negative test by Viroseq HIV-1 Genotyping System. Amplicon Sequencing of HIV-1 RT and PR Plate (Roche) was performed following the manufacturer's instructions. HIV-1 variants were analyzed by a specific HIV-1 tool by AVA software v. 2.7. The updated IAS resistance mutations list (March 2013) was considered for the analysis of resistance positions. Patients were followed testing viral load and immunologic parameters.

Results: Twenty four males and two females with a mean age of 43 years were included. Twenty-one were nave for cART. At baseline, median HIV-RNA was 4.57 log copies/mL (range 2.15-6.57) and CD4 count 315 cells/mcL (range 16-648). In 18 patients, NGS did not detect any additional variant relevant for the selected cART compared to population genotyping. In the remaining eight patients resistance conferring mutations to part of the ongoing regimen were detected. Single mutations E138K (two cases) and M184V in three distinct patients and V90I+G190E; M184V+A98S; Y215F+V118I+T215I; L210S+T215I+F227L; and A62V+D67G+K70N+188H in the remaining five subjects. In all cases, the mutation prevalence was inferior to 5%. The mean daily reduction of VL was -3759 copies/mL in patients without NGS detected mutations and -1045 copies/mL in those with mutations. The median KM estimates for reaching an HIV-RNA blood level <50 copies/mL were 127 days and 161 days, respectively. One patient without baseline resistance selected for M184I+E138K+T215I (NGS) after four months of TDF/FTC/RPV therapy.

Conclusions: NGS detected low-frequency HIV-1 variants harbouring RT drug resistance mutations that could have affected the therapy outcome. However, viral decay in an early cART phase was not affected by the presence of resistant minority variants. The low prevalence of the detected mutation, the limited effect on the combination regimen and the potency of cART components could be possible explanations of our findings. Longer follow-up and larger casuistries are needed to determine the clinical relevance of NGS in routine clinical practice and eventually define a clinically relevant mutations' prevalence.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225251PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.17.4.19759DOI Listing
January 2016

Mitochondrial dysfunction as a central actor in intellectual disability-related diseases: an overview of Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X and Rett syndrome.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2014 Oct 15;46 Pt 2:202-17. Epub 2014 Feb 15.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Clinical manifestations typical of mitochondrial diseases are often present in various genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disability, a condition leading to deficit in cognitive functions and adaptive behaviors. Until now, the causative mechanism leading to intellectual disability is unknown and the progression of the condition is poorly understood. We first report latest advances on genetic and environmental regulation of mitochondrial function and its role in brain development. Starting from the structure, function and regulation of the oxidative phosphorylation apparatus, we review how mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics play a central role in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. We then discuss how dysfunctional mitochondria and alterations in reactive oxygen species homeostasis are potentially involved in the pathogenesis of various neurodevelopmental syndromes with a special focus on Down, Rett, Fragile X syndromes and autism spectrum disorders. Finally, we review and suggest novel therapeutic approaches aimed at improving intellectual disability by activating mitochondrial function and reducing oxidative stress to amiliorate the quality of life in the subjects affected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.01.012DOI Listing
October 2014

Preservation of mitochondrial functional integrity in mitochondria isolated from small cryopreserved mouse brain areas.

Anal Biochem 2014 Jan 7;444:25-31. Epub 2013 Sep 7.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, 70126 Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Studies of mitochondrial bioenergetics in brain pathophysiology are often precluded by the need to isolate mitochondria immediately after tissue dissection from a large number of brain biopsies for comparative studies. Here we present a procedure of cryopreservation of small brain areas from which mitochondrial enriched fractions (crude mitochondria) with high oxidative phosphorylation efficiency can be isolated. Small mouse brain areas were frozen and stored in a solution containing glycerol as cryoprotectant. Crude mitochondria were isolated by differential centrifugation from both cryopreserved and freshly explanted brain samples and were compared with respect to their ability to generate membrane potential and produce ATP. Intactness of outer and inner mitochondrial membranes was verified by polarographic ascorbate and cytochrome c tests and spectrophotometric assay of citrate synthase activity. Preservation of structural integrity and oxidative phosphorylation efficiency was successfully obtained in crude mitochondria isolated from different areas of cryopreserved mouse brain samples. Long-term cryopreservation of small brain areas from which intact and phosphorylating mitochondria can be isolated for the study of mitochondrial bioenergetics will significantly expand the study of mitochondrial defects in neurological pathologies, allowing large comparative studies and favoring interlaboratory and interdisciplinary analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ab.2013.08.030DOI Listing
January 2014

Negative modulation of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation by epigallocatechin-3 gallate leads to growth arrest and apoptosis in human malignant pleural mesothelioma cells.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2013 Dec 2;1832(12):2085-96. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, National Council of Research, Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

Increasing evidence reveals a large dependency of epithelial cancer cells on oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for energy production. In this study we tested the potential of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a natural polyphenol known to target mitochondria, in inducing OXPHOS impairment and cell energy deficit in human epitheliod (REN cells) and biphasic (MSTO-211H cells) malignant pleural mesothelioma (MMe), a rare but highly aggressive tumor with high unmet need for treatment. Due to EGCG instability that causes H2O2 formation in culture medium, the drug was added to MMe cells in the presence of exogenous superoxide dismutase and catalase, already proved to stabilize the EGCG molecule and prevent EGCG-dependent reactive oxygen species formation. We show that under these experimental conditions, EGCG causes the selective arrest of MMe cell growth with respect to normal mesothelial cells and the induction of mitochondria-mediated apoptosis, as revealed by early mitochondrial ultrastructure modification, swelling and cytochrome c release. We disclose a novel mechanism by which EGCG induces apoptosis through the impairment of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes, particularly of complex I, II and ATP synthase. This induces a strong reduction in ATP production by OXPHOS, that is not adequately counterbalanced by glycolytic shift, resulting in cell energy deficit, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The EGCG-dependent negative modulation of mitochondrial energy metabolism, selective for cancer cells, gives an important input for the development of novel pharmacological strategies for MMe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.07.014DOI Listing
December 2013

Migration patterns of HIV-1 subtype B virus in Northern Italy.

New Microbiol 2013 Jan 1;36(1):75-9. Epub 2013 Jan 1.

Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immunomediated Diseases, National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.

Gene flow analysis is used to identify the migration patterns of viruses within a geographical area and /or in different populations. 883 HIV-1 B subtype pol gene sequences were analyzed. The gene analysis among different geographical areas of the Bergamo district and from different transmission risk groups showed 25% of the observed gene flow was from people living in the north valleys to lowland and 40.5% from a heterosexual risk group to injecting drug users. Injecting drug users seem to be the central link, mercenary sex being the common route of transmission (and gene flow) between this group and both heterosexual and homosexual individuals.
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January 2013