Publications by authors named "Dominick Leone"

19 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Psychological impact of genetic and clinical screening for pulmonary fibrosis on asymptomatic first-degree relatives of affected individuals.

Thorax 2021 Jan 22. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Screening for pulmonary fibrosis may help to identify early stages of the disease. We assessed the psychological impact of screening undiagnosed first-degree relatives of patients with pulmonary fibrosis by administering two validated measures after participants received their results: the Decisional Regret Scale and the Feelings About genomiC Testing Results Questionnaire. More than 90% of relatives reported either no or mild decisional regret. Increased measures of decisional regret and negative feelings were present in those found to have a low diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide or interstitial lung abnormalities. Results of telomere length and genetic testing did not significantly impact regret.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-216244DOI Listing
January 2021

Proteomic Signatures of Lifestyle Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Plasma Proteome in the Framingham Heart Study.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 Jan 29;10(1):e018020. Epub 2020 Dec 29.

Boston University Department of Medicine Boston MA.

Background Proteomic biomarkers related to cardiovascular disease risk factors may offer insights into the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether modifiable lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease are associated with distinctive proteomic signatures. Methods and Results We analyzed 1305 circulating plasma proteomic biomarkers (assayed using the SomaLogic platform) in 897 FHS (Framingham Heart Study) Generation 3 participants (mean age 46±8 years; 56% women; discovery sample) and 1121 FOS (Framingham Offspring Study) participants (mean age 52 years; 54% women; validation sample). Participants were free of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and clinical cardiovascular disease. We used linear mixed effects models (adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and family structure) to relate levels of each inverse-log transformed protein to 3 lifestyle factors (ie, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity). A Bonferroni-adjusted value indicated statistical significance (based on number of proteins and traits tested, <4.2×10 in the discovery sample; <6.85×10 in the validation sample). We observed statistically significant associations of 60 proteins with smoking (37/40 top proteins validated in FOS), 30 proteins with alcohol consumption (23/30 proteins validated), and 5 proteins with physical activity (2/3 proteins associated with the physical activity index validated). We assessed the associations of protein concentrations with previously identified genetic variants (protein quantitative trait loci) linked to lifestyle-related disease traits in the genome-wide-association study catalogue. The protein quantitative trait loci were associated with coronary artery disease, inflammation, and age-related mortality. Conclusions Our cross-sectional study from a community-based sample elucidated distinctive sets of proteins associated with 3 key lifestyle factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.018020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955453PMC
January 2021

Interstitial Lung Disease in Relatives of Patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2020 05;201(10):1240-1248

Pulmonary and Critical Care Division.

Although relatives of patients with familial pulmonary fibrosis (FPF) are at an increased risk for interstitial lung disease (ILD), the risk among relatives of sporadic idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is not known. To identify the prevalence of interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) and ILD among relatives of patients with FPF and sporadic IPF. Undiagnosed first-degree relatives of patients with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) consented to participate in a screening study that included the completion of questionnaires, pulmonary function testing, chest computed tomography, a blood sample collection for immunophenotyping, telomere length assessments, and genetic testing. Of the 105 relatives in the study, 33 (31%) had ILA, whereas 72 (69%) were either indeterminate or had no ILA. Of the 33 relatives with ILA, 19 (58%) had further evidence for ILD (defined by the combination of imaging findings and pulmonary function testing decrements). There was no evidence in multivariable analyses that the prevalence of either ILA or ILD differed between the 46 relatives with FPF and the 59 relatives with sporadic IPF. Relatives with decrements in either total lung or diffusion capacity had a greater than 9-fold increase in their odds of having ILA (odds ratio, 9.6; 95% confidence interval, 3.1-29.8;  < 0.001). An undiagnosed form of ILD may be present in greater than 1 in 6 older first-degree relatives of patients with PF. First-degree relatives of patients with both familial and sporadic IPF appear to be at similar risk. Our findings suggest that screening for PF in relatives might be warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201908-1571OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7233344PMC
May 2020

Understanding the role of resilience resources, antiretroviral therapy initiation, and HIV-1 RNA suppression among people living with HIV in South Africa: a prospective cohort study.

AIDS 2019 06;33 Suppl 1:S71-S79

Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health, Portland, Oregon, USA.

Objective: Failure to initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) and achieve virologic suppression are significant barriers to the United Nations 90-90-90 goals. Identifying resilience resources, or modifiable strength-based factors, among people living with HIV is critical for successful HIV treatment and prevention.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Methods: From July 2014 to July 2015, 500 adults presenting for voluntary counseling and HIV testing who were diagnosed with HIV and were ART-eligible in South Africa (Soweto and Gugulethu) were enrolled and surveyed. Logistic regression models assessed resilience-related predictors of ART initiation within 6 months of voluntary counseling and HIV testing for HIV, and HIV-1 plasma RNA suppression within 9 months, adjusting for sociodemographic factors.

Results: Within 6 months, 62% initiated ART, and within 9 months, 25% had evidence of an undetectable HIV-1 plasma RNA (<50 copies/ml). Participants who initiated ART relied less on social support from friends [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89-0.99], coped using self-distraction (aOR 1.05, 95% CI: 1.00-1.10) and avoided coping through substance use (aOR 0.79, 95% CI: 0.65-0.97), as compared with participants who did not initiate ART. Those who achieved plasma RNA suppression relied more on social support from a significant other/partner (aOR 1.04, 95% CI: 1.02-1.07), used positive religious coping (aOR 1.03, 95% CI: 1.00-1.07), and were less likely to engage in denial coping (aOR 0.84, 95% CI: 0.77-0.92), compared with those who initiated ART but did not achieve plasma RNA suppression.

Conclusion: Interventions optimizing resilience resources and decreasing maladaptive coping strategies (e.g., substance use, denial) may present a feasible approach to maximizing ART-based HIV treatment strategies among South African people living with HIV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/QAD.0000000000002175DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6712569PMC
June 2019

Demographics, Risk Factors, and Incidence of Melanoma in Patients in the New England VA Healthcare system.

Mil Med 2019 05;184(5-6):e408-e416

Dermatopathology Section, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, VA Integrated Service Network (VISN-1), West Roxbury, MA.

Introduction: A recent study found that the incidence of melanoma and melanoma-related mortality was decreasing in residents of the New England region. However, it is unknown whether this trend is conserved in Veterans of New England who constitute more than 14% of the national Veteran population. Given this, our goal was to analyze the incidence of melanoma in patients of Veteran Integrated Service Network-1 (VISN-1) (geographically consisting of VA health care facilities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and to calculate an incidence rate ratio (IRR) of melanoma in VISN-1 compared to the general population. Additional goals were to ascertain the risk/susceptibility of this patient population with a view to improve quality of care and outcomes.

Materials And Methods: Data for 523 cases of melanoma [2000-2011] were obtained from the regional branch of the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) within the geographic area comprising VISN-1. A detailed retrospective chart review was conducted on these cases to gather demographic, risk factor, and clinical practice data. Demographic and incidence data from VISN-1 were compared to the general population via data from Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) from the same time period. Person-years (PY) were calculated for both populations to measure IRRs which was further standardized for age and gender.

Results: VISN-1 patients were predominantly older (94.26% >50 years), Caucasian (99.43%) males (96.75%). Compared to the general population, VISN-1 patients experienced more invasive lesions defined as stage T1 or greater (4.33% vs. 57.12%, p < 0.001), but reduced melanoma-associated mortality (40.96% vs. 19.05%, p < 0.001) although all-cause mortality was approximately doubled (52.20% vs. 26.14%, p < 0.001). Metastatic disease-rates were similar in both [approximately 4% in both]. IRR of melanoma in VISN-1 patients was 0.36 (95% CI: 0.20-0.67; p = 0.0063) which persisted in all age groups/genders. 60.92% of VISN-1 patients had recreational sun-exposure history and 72.41% of tobacco use. 95.02% of melanomas were located in continuously/intermittently sun-exposed areas, 93.28% were surgically-treated with a median treatment delay of 31 days [range 18-48]. Median lost to follow-up was 0 day [range 0-681 days].

Conclusions: Compared to the general population, melanoma incidence was lower in the VISN-1 cohort, possibly due to decreased UV index in the New England region, protective effects of past tobacco use, improved access to care through the VA and regional public health educational efforts. Yet melanomas were more often invasive in the VISN-1 cohort due to advanced age and male sex both of which are associated with more advanced disease at diagnosis. A strength of this study is the calculation of IRR using PY as this method enhances accuracy of incidence calculations. The data were limited by the fact that the population was from one geographic region and consisted mainly of elderly Caucasian males. Descriptive variable data such as sun-protective habits and risk factors from military service are limited by potential recall bias given the retrospective study design. Further study is necessary to replicate these results and to compare our data to Veteran populations from different geographic regions within the USA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usy267DOI Listing
May 2019

Concordance of somatic mutation profiles (BRAF,NRAS, and TERT) and tumoral PD-L1 in matched primary cutaneous and metastatic melanoma samples.

Hum Pathol 2018 12 16;82:206-214. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Dermatopathology Section, VA Integrated Systems Network (VISN1), Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, West Roxbury, MA 02132, USA. Electronic address:

Despite the efficacy of BRAF-targeted and PD-L1-related immune therapies in tackling metastatic melanoma, a significant number of patients exhibit resistance. Given this, the objective of the current study was to ascertain concordance of somatic mutations in BRAF/NRAS/TERT and immunohistochemical PD-L1 and CD8 in matched primary cutaneous and metastatic melanoma. A total of 43 archival paired samples with sufficient material for genetic and immunohistochemical analyses met the criteria for inclusion in the study. Immunohistochemistry was performed for PD-L1 and CD8 and direct-DNA Sanger sequencing for BRAF/NRAS/TERT promoter mutational analyses. Agreement between paired samples was assessed using Cohen κ. Poor concordance among primary and corresponding metastases was noted in BRAF (9/42 cases discordant, κ = 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21-0.77; P = .0013), TERT promoter mutations (13/41 cases discordant, κ = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.04-0.62; P = .033), tumoral PD-L1 immunoexpression (9/43 cases discordant, κ = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.07-0.72; P = .0099), and immunoexpression of CD8 T lymphocytes (12/43 cases discordant, κ = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.19-0.69; P = .002). Although NRAS1 and NRAS2 were highly concordant (42/43 and 39/43 cases, respectively), discordant NRAS2 mutational status was associated with a median time to metastasis of 90 versus 455 days for pairs with concordant status (P = .07). Although limited by sample size, our findings suggest that consideration be given to mutational analysis of metastatic tissue rather than the primary to guide BRAF-targeted therapy and question the roles of TERT promoter mutations and PD-L1 as predictive biomarkers in malignant melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2018.08.002DOI Listing
December 2018

Treatment guidelines and early loss from care for people living with HIV in Cape Town, South Africa: A retrospective cohort study.

PLoS Med 2017 Nov 14;14(11):e1002434. Epub 2017 Nov 14.

Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town Medical School, Cape Town, South Africa.

Background: South Africa has undergone multiple expansions in antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility from an initial CD4+ threshold of ≤200 cells/μl to providing ART for all people living with HIV (PLWH) as of September 2016. We evaluated the association of programmatic changes in ART eligibility with loss from care, both prior to ART initiation and within the first 16 weeks of starting treatment, during a period of programmatic expansion to ART treatment at CD4+ ≤ 350 cells/μl.

Methods And Findings: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 4,025 treatment-eligible, non-pregnant PLWH accessing care in a community health center in Gugulethu Township affiliated with the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre in Cape Town. The median age of participants was 34 years (IQR 28-41 years), almost 62% were female, and the median CD4+ count was 173 cells/μl (IQR 92-254 cells/μl). Participants were stratified into 2 cohorts: an early cohort, enrolled into care at the health center from 1 January 2009 to 31 August 2011, when guidelines mandated that ART initiation required CD4+ ≤ 200 cells/μl, pregnancy, advanced clinical symptoms (World Health Organization [WHO] stage 4), or comorbidity (active tuberculosis); and a later cohort, enrolled into care from 1 September 2011 to 31 December 2013, when the treatment threshold had been expanded to CD4+ ≤ 350 cells/μl. Demographic and clinical factors were compared before and after the policy change using chi-squared tests to identify potentially confounding covariates, and logistic regression models were used to estimate the risk of pre-treatment (pre-ART) loss from care and early loss within the first 16 weeks on treatment, adjusting for age, baseline CD4+, and WHO stage. Compared with participants in the later cohort, participants in the earlier cohort had significantly more advanced disease: median CD4+ 146 cells/μl versus 214 cells/μl (p < 0.001), 61.1% WHO stage 3/4 disease versus 42.8% (p < 0.001), and pre-ART mortality of 34.2% versus 16.7% (p < 0.001). In total, 385 ART-eligible PLWH (9.6%) failed to initiate ART, of whom 25.7% died before ever starting treatment. Of the 3,640 people who started treatment, 58 (1.6%) died within the first 16 weeks in care, and an additional 644 (17.7%) were lost from care within 16 weeks of starting ART. PLWH who did start treatment in the later cohort were significantly more likely to discontinue care in <16 weeks (19.8% versus 15.8%, p = 0.002). After controlling for baseline CD4+, WHO stage, and age, this effect remained significant (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.30, 95% CI 1.09-1.55). As such, it remains unclear if early attrition from care was due to a "healthy cohort" effect or to overcrowding as programs expanded to accommodate the broader guidelines for treatment. Our findings were limited by a lack of generalizability (given that these data were from a single high-volume site where testing and treatment were available) and an inability to formally investigate the effect of crowding on the main outcome.

Conclusions: Over one-quarter of this ART-eligible cohort did not achieve the long-term benefits of treatment due to early mortality, ART non-initiation, or early ART discontinuation. Those who started treatment in the later cohort appeared to be more likely to discontinue care early, and this outcome appeared to be independent of CD4+ count or WHO stage. Future interventions should focus on those most at risk for early loss from care as programs continue to expand in South Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002434DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5685472PMC
November 2017

Tumoral PD-L1 expression in desmoplastic melanoma is associated with depth of invasion, tumor-infiltrating CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes and the mixed cytomorphological variant.

Mod Pathol 2017 03 13;30(3):357-369. Epub 2017 Jan 13.

Dermatopathology Section, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (113), VA Integrated Service Networks (VISN1), West Roxbury, MA, USA.

Recently, patients with metastatic desmoplastic melanoma (DM) have been shown to respond more favorably to anti-PD1/PD-L1 therapy than other melanoma subtypes. Given this, we evaluated PD-L1/2 expression in primary DM samples and correlated these with subtype, CD8+ lymphocyte status, histopathological prognosticators, and select genetic alterations. Eighty-six (36 mixed DM, 50 pure DM) archival annotated samples met inclusion criteria and were immunohistochemically semiquantitatively evaluated. Per established criteria, for PD-L1/L2, cases with ⩾5% tumoral expression, and for CD8, cases with a predominantly peri/intratumoral CD8+ infiltrate were scored positive. Univariate analysis (chi-square and Wilcoxon) identified potential confounders and a nested case-control study was accomplished using multiple logistic regression. For PD-L1, 49% of cases were positive and 71% of cases with thickness >4 mm were positive; PD-L1 expression differed by median depth (3.29 mm, interquartile range=3.58 mm for PD-L1 positives vs 1.75 mm, interquartile range=2.04 mm for PD-L1 negatives, P=0.0002) and was linearly associated with increasing depth of invasion (P=0.0003). PD-L1-positive cases were more likely to display CD8+ lymphocytes (60 vs 28% P=0.0047).The presence of CD8+ lymphocytes correlated significantly with depth of invasion >1 mm (P=0.022). On multivariate analysis, PD-L1 was 6.14 × more likely to be expressed in mixed DM than pure DM (P=0.0131), CD8+ staining was 6.22 × more likely in PD-L1 positive cases than in PD-L1 negative (P=0.0118), and tumor depth was associated with greater odds of PD-L1 expression (OR=1.61, P=0.0181). PD-L2 expression was observed in 48% of cases but did not correlate with any variables. Correlation of tumoral PD-L1 with increased depth and CD8+ lymphocytes implicates the tumoral immune microenvironment with advancing disease in DM. Enhanced tumoral PD-L1 expression in the mixed cytomorphological variant provides an insight into the differential pathogenesis of the subtypes and suggests that these patients are likely better candidates for anti-PD/PD-L1 therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/modpathol.2016.210DOI Listing
March 2017

BRAF and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in papillary thyroid carcinoma - challenging the roles of Snail and E-Cadherin?

Am J Transl Res 2016 15;8(11):5076-5086. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

ENT Specialists, Inc. 825 Washington St # 310, Norwood, MA 02062, UK.

Objective: In papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), while the role of BRAF is well established, the contribution of BRAF to epithelial-mesenchymal transition is not.

Study Design/setting: To elucidate the relationship between BRAF, surrogates of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (Snail, E-cadherin) and established histopathologic prognosticators in papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Subjects/methods: In this IRB approved cross-sectional study, 50 cases of archived annotated PTC samples were retrieved and immunohistochemically stained for Snail and E-cadherin protein. A semi-quantitative scoring system (incorporating proportion and intensity) was utilized.

Results: Snail and E-cadherin expression were noted in 44% and 84% of BRAF mutant and, in 29% and 95% of BRAFWT samples, respectively. No statistically significant correlations were noted between Snail, E-cadherin and histopathologic prognosticators. However, a trend was noted between Snail expression and tumor size <5 cm (P=0.07). Statistically significant differences between BRAF mutant and BRAFWT samples were noted in the following groups: conventional (68% vs. 5%) and tall cell (32% vs. 0%) histopathologic variants, extrathyroidal extension (32% vs. 5%), infiltrative growth pattern (80% vs. 48%), presence of desmoplasia (72% vs. 29%), psammona bodies (48% vs. 10%), and cystic change (32% vs. 5%). Among follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma compared to BRAF mutant samples, BRAFWT samples were more commonly of the encapsulated variety (52% vs. 4%), and microcarcinomas (29% vs. 0%) (P<0.001 and =0.007, respectively).

Conclusion: Our findings, supporting the utility of BRAF as a putative therapeutic target in PTC, suggest that the interaction between BRAF and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in papillary thyroid carcinoma is not through induction of the Snail/E-cadherin pathway.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5126351PMC
November 2016

Frequency of telomerase reverse transcripter promoter mutations in desmoplastic melanoma subtypes: analyses of 76 cases.

Melanoma Res 2016 08;26(4):361-6

aDepartment of Pathology, Boston University of Medicine bBoston University School of Public Health and Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard cDepartment of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston dMiraca Life Sciences, Newton Upper Falls eDepartment of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester fDermatopathology Section, VA Integrated Systems Network (VISN1), Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, West Roxbury, Massachusetts gCarver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa hDepartment of Pathology and Dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai, New York, New York iAurora Diagnostics GPA Laboratories, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA jDepartment of Pathology, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Estimates of the frequency of telomerase reverse transcripter (TERT) mutations in desmoplastic melanoma (DM) are limited. DM is categorized into subtypes, pure and mixed, differing in prognosis, suggesting genetic heterogeneity. Given this, our aims were to determine the incidence of TERT promoter mutations in DM subtypes and to evaluate its relationship with established histopathologic prognosticators, BRAF and RETp status, and neurofibromin protein expression. Of the archival annotated samples retrieved, 76 cases of DM (48 pure and 28 mixed) fulfilled the criteria for inclusion. PCR amplification of the TERT promoter region was performed on DNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue using primers5'-GCCGATTCGACCTCTCTCC-3' (forward) and 5'-CAGCGCTGCCTGAAACTC-3' (reverse). For each case, appropriate C>T mutations were identified on the electropherograms. Univariate analysis using χ-test was carried out to identify potential confounders; a nested case-control study of demographic, clinical, histopathological, and genetic determinants was carried out using multiple logistic regression. Significant differences in TERT promoter mutation frequencies were noted in the subtypes (mixed vs. pure; 15/28, 54% vs. 11/48, 23%, respectively, P=0.0066). After adjusting for potential confounding, multivariate analyses indicated a three-fold increase in the odds of the TERT mutation for those with the mixed subtype compared with the pure subtype (P=0.04, adjusted odds ratio =3.32). No other significant associations were noted (sex/junctional component/Breslow depth/ulceration/mitoses/host response/RETp, BRAF status, and neurofibromin protein expression). Our findings, the largest to date investigating TERT promoter mutations in DM, support the hypothesis that the subtypes have distinct genetic drivers and underscore the relevance of telomere integrity in the etiopathogenesis of the mixed variant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CMR.0000000000000272DOI Listing
August 2016

Cervical Abnormalities in South African Women Living With HIV With High Screening and Referral Rates.

J Glob Oncol 2016 Dec 4;2(6):375-380. Epub 2016 May 4.

and , Brigham and Women's Hospital; , , and , Harvard Medical School; , Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health; , Boston Children's Hospital; , Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; , Boston University, Boston, MA; , University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; , Western Cape Province Department of Health, Cape Town; , R.K. Khan Hospital, Chatsworth, South Africa; and , Canadian Red Cross, Ontario, Canada.

Purpose: To determine the prevalence of screening, cervical dysplasia, and malignancy on the basis of histologic diagnoses from colposcopy and large loop excision of the transformation zone among women living with HIV (WLWH) who attended an urban antiretroviral treatment (ART) clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Materials And Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study to examine a random sample of 462 WLWH during a 5-year period from 2004 to 2009. Women on ART for < 3 months were excluded. Data were abstracted from electronic records and paper charts to assess rates of cervical abnormalities detected on Pap smears as well as time to colposcopy.

Results: During the study period, 432 women (93.5%) had at least one evaluable Papanicolau test. At baseline, 237 women (54.9%) had an abnormal Papanicolau test, and of these patients, 181 (76.3%) had a Papanicolau test that qualified for further colposcopic evaluation. In addition, 115 women (63.5%) received colposcopy within a median of 39 days from referral. This yielded 74 evaluable histologic samples (64.3%), of which 21.6%, 27.0%, 27.0%, and 1.4% had cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 1, CIN2, CIN3, and invasive cervical cancer, respectively.

Conclusion: In a large sample of WLWH who received ART in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where Papanicolau test coverage and rates of referral for colposcopy and large loop excision of the transformation zone were high, > 75% of women with evaluable histologic samples had evidence of cervical dysplasia or malignancy. These findings underscore the importance of routine cervical screening upon entry into HIV care to optimize survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JGO.2015.002469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5493244PMC
December 2016

Neurofibromin protein loss in desmoplastic melanoma subtypes: implicating NF1 allelic loss as a distinct genetic driver?

Hum Pathol 2016 07 9;53:82-90. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Dermatopathology Section, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, VA Consolidated Laboratories, West Roxbury, MA 02132. Electronic address:

Loss of the NF1 allele, coding for the protein neurofibromin, and polymorphism in the proto-oncogene RET (RETp) are purportedly common in desmoplastic melanoma (DM). DM is categorized into pure (PDM) and mixed (MDM) subtypes, which differ in prognosis. Most NF1 mutations result in a truncated/absent protein, making immunohistochemical screening for neurofibromin an ideal surrogate for NF1 allelic loss. Using antineurofibromin, our aims were to ascertain the incidence of neurofibromin loss in DM subtypes and to evaluate the relationship with RET, perineural invasion (PNI) and established histopathologic prognosticators. A total of 78 archival samples of DM met criteria for inclusion (54 cases of non-DM serving as controls). Immunohistochemistry was performed for neurofibromin, whereas direct DNA sequencing was used for RETp and BRAF mutation status. Statistical analyses included χ(2) test as well as Fisher exact test. Neurofibromin loss was more common in DM than non-DM (69% versus 54%; P=.02). In DM, significant differences in neurofibromin loss were noted in the following: non-head and neck versus head and neck biopsy site (88% versus 55%) and PDM versus MDM variants (80% versus 56%). No significant associations were noted with sex, presence of a junctional component, Breslow depth, ulceration, mitoses, host response, RETp, BRAF status, or PNI. RETp was marginally associated with PNI-positive DM versus PNI-negative DM (36 versus 18%; P=.08). Our findings, the largest to date investigating neurofibromin in DM, validate the incidence of NF1 mutations/allelic loss in DM and suggest that the DM subtypes have distinct genetic drivers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2016.02.012DOI Listing
July 2016

BRAF and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in primary cutaneous melanoma: a role for Snail and E-cadherin?

Hum Pathol 2016 06 1;52:19-27. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

Dermatopathology Section, VA Consolidated Laboratories, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (113), West Roxbury, MA 02132. Electronic address:

In vitro studies in melanoma indicate that up-regulation of the transcriptional repressor Snail occurs with a concomitant decrease of its target E-cadherin, both hallmarks of epithelial-mesenchymal transition-an association not established in vivo. We sought to elucidate the relationship between BRAF, Snail, E-cadherin, and established histopathologic prognosticators in primary cutaneous melanoma. Archived annotated samples with a diagnosis of primary cutaneous melanoma were retrieved (n = 68 cases; 34 BRAF mutant and 34 BRAF wild type) and immunohistochemically stained for Snail and E-cadherin protein expression. A semiquantitative scoring system was used. Multivariate logistic analysis was used to control confounders of BRAF. Snail expression was significantly associated only with ulceration (42% versus 13%; P = .02). E-cadherin expression was present in 26% of BRAF mutant and 71% of BRAF wild-type cases (P = .0003). Loss of E-cadherin expression was associated with female sex (60% versus 34%; P = .05), BRAF mutation (74% versus 29%; P = .0003), thickness greater than or equal to 1 mm (68% versus 32%; P = .004), mitosis (63% versus 25%; P = .007), and ulceration (75% versus 44%; P = .05). BRAF mutation was associated with male sex (60% versus 30%; P = .02), Breslow thickness (P = .007), thickness greater than or equal to 1 mm (68% versus 29%; P = .002), and ulceration (75% versus 42%; P = .02). Snail expression did not correlate with loss of E-cadherin expression (47% versus 53%; P = .79). After controlling for potential confounding, BRAF mutation was associated with loss of E-cadherin (adjusted odds ratio, 8.332; 95% confidence interval, 2.257-30.757; P = .0015) and Breslow thickness greater than 1 mm (adjusted odds ratio, 7.360; 95% confidence interval, 1.534-35.318; P = .0126). Our findings, indicating that mutant BRAF represses E-cadherin expression, implicating a catalytic role for BRAF in epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2015.12.030DOI Listing
June 2016

Understanding HIV-infected patients' experiences with PEPFAR-associated transitions at a Centre of Excellence in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: a qualitative study.

AIDS Care 2015 24;27(10):1298-303. Epub 2015 Aug 24.

e Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) , Boston , MA , USA.

South Africa was the largest recipient of funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs from 2004 to 2012. Funding decreases have led to transfers from hospital and non-governmental organization-based care to government-funded, community-based clinics. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 36 participants to assess patient experiences related to transfer of care from a PEPFAR-funded, hospital-based clinic in Durban to either primary care clinics or hospital-based clinics. Participant narratives revealed the importance of connectedness between patients and the PEPFAR-funded clinic program staff, who were described as respectful and conscientious. Participants reported that transfer clinics were largely focused on dispensing medication and on throughput, rather than holistic care. Although participants appreciated the free treatment at transfer sites, they expressed frustration with long waiting times and low perceived quality of patient-provider communication, and felt that they were treated disrespectfully. These factors eroded confidence in the quality of the care. The transfer was described by participants as hurried with an apparent lack of preparation at transfer clinics for new patient influx. Formal (e.g., counseling) and informal (e.g., family) social supports, both within and beyond the PEPFAR-funded clinic, provided a buffer to challenges faced during and after the transition in care. These data support the importance of social support, adequate preparation for transfer, and improving the quality of care in receiving clinics, in order to optimize retention in care and long-term adherence to treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2015.1051502DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548805PMC
February 2018

Perineural invasion in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: role of immunohistochemistry, anatomical site, and the high-affinity nerve growth factor receptor TrkA.

Hum Pathol 2015 Aug 22;46(8):1209-16. Epub 2015 May 22.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (113), VA Medical Center, 1400 VFW PKWY, MA 02132 USA, USA. Electronic address:

Perineural invasion (PNI) has been recently added to the American Joint Committee on Cancer cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) staging criteria as a high-risk tumor characteristic and is purportedly more common in cSCCs of the head and neck (H&N). Expression of the high-affinity nerve growth factor receptor TrkA has been shown to be associated with PNI in noncutaneous neoplasms. Given this, we sought to ascertain the incidence of PNI in cSCCs using double immunostaining (DIS) and to investigate PNI's relationship with TrkA and established histopathologic prognosticators. Fifty-seven cSCCs from the H&N and 53 from non-H&N areas were immunohistochemically analyzed for PNI (DIS with S-100 and p63) and TrkA expression. Comparing H&N versus non-H&N areas, using hematoxylin and eosin, PNI was detected in 11% versus 6% cases, respectively, and, using DIS, in 23% versus 15%, respectively, with significant disagreement between both methods (κ = 0.47; P = .002). There was a 2.33-fold increase in PNI detection with DIS compared to hematoxylin and eosin (95% confidence interval, 1.12-4.87; P = .02). TrkA expression was 1.96 times more frequently observed in cSCCs from the H&N compared to those from non-H&N areas (P = .01). Regardless of site, TrkA expression was associated with decreased degree of differentiation (odds ratio, 6.46; P = .0006) and high-risk morphologic variants (odds ratio, 6.53; P = .002) but not significantly associated with PNI (P = .33). Increased PNI detection with DIS underscores the adjunctive utility of immunohistochemistry in microstaging. Significantly more common TrkA expression in cSCCs of the H&N argues in favor of heterogeneity among SCCs from different anatomical sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2015.05.003DOI Listing
August 2015

Neurotrophin receptors and perineural invasion in desmoplastic melanoma.

J Am Acad Dermatol 2015 May 7;72(5):851-8. Epub 2015 Mar 7.

Dermatopathology, Section, Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address:

Background: Perineural invasion (PNI) in desmoplastic melanoma is associated with increased local recurrence and reduced disease-free survival. The biological mechanisms underlying PNI remain unclear although several lines of evidence implicate neurotrophins and their receptors.

Objectives: We investigated the expression of p75NGFR and TrkA, and the presence of functional RET polymorphism (RETp) as they relate to PNI in desmoplastic melanoma.

Methods: In all, 43 cases of desmoplastic melanoma were immunohistochemically evaluated for TrkA and p75NGFR expression and RETp was detected by direct DNA sequencing.

Results: PNI was present in 67% of cases. On univariate analysis, p75NGFR was associated with PNI (expression detected in 79% of PNI-positive cases compared with 36% of PNI-negative cases, P = .005), increased Breslow depth (P = .007), and greater Clark level (P = .01). RETp was noted in 28% of cases but was not significantly associated with PNI (P = .27) or other histopathologic variables. TrkA expression was absent in all cases. PNI was associated with increased Breslow depth and Clark level (P = .01 and P = .009, respectively). Controlling for the association between p75NGFR and depth, p75NGFR remained associated with an increased propensity for PNI (odds ratio 4.68, P = .04).

Limitations: The sample size was limited.

Conclusion: In desmoplastic melanoma, p75NGFR expression is significantly associated with PNI and a more locally aggressive phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2015.01.026DOI Listing
May 2015

Microvessel density, lymphovascular density, and lymphovascular invasion in primary cutaneous melanoma-correlation with histopathologic prognosticators and BRAF status.

Hum Pathol 2015 Feb 26;46(2):304-12. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Dermatopathology Section, Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118. Electronic address:

The relationship between microvessel density (MVD), lymphovascular density (LVD), and lymphovascular invasion (LVI) in primary cutaneous melanoma (PCM) remains unclear. Given this, a total of 102 PCMs were assessed for MVD (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 and Endocan), LVD (D2-40), and LVI (immunostaining with D2-40/S-100 and hematoxylin and eosin); tumoral S-100A13, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, and Endocan; and BRAF status. LVD was associated with MVD (P = .01). MVD was higher in PCMs with depth greater than or equal to 2 mm and ulceration (P = .04, .05), whereas LVD was higher in PCMs with depth greater than or equal to 2 mm and mitoses (P = .03, .02). After adjusting for MVD and LVD, only ulceration was associated with LVI (P < .02). A BRAF mutation was seen in 30.4% cases, and when present, both LVD and host response (P = .0008 and .04, respectively) were significantly associated with MVD. Immunostaining with S-100A13 was noted in 99% of cases and a significant association noted only with ulceration (P = .05). Immunostaining increased LVI positivity (46.5% versus 4.9% by hematoxylin and eosin, P < .0001). MVD and LVD are not associated with LVI, appear to be closely related with each other, and are associated with select markers of poor prognosticative value. The association between a host response and LVD and MVD in PCMs with a BRAF mutation suggests that they exhibit potential for strategizing immunotherapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2014.11.006DOI Listing
February 2015

Correlation of chemokine receptor CXCR4 mRNA in primary cutaneous melanoma with established histopathologic prognosticators and the BRAF status.

Melanoma Res 2014 Dec;24(6):621-5

aDivision of Graduate Medical Sciences bSchool of Public Health cBoston University School of Medicine dDepartment of Pathology eDepartment of Dermatology, Dermatopathology Section, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Dysregulation of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 is relevant in melanoma progression, and the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis has been shown to activate cell cycle progression and malignant cell migration through stimulation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Studies ascertaining the potential utility of CXCR4 mRNA as a prognosticator in melanoma have focused mainly on metastatic melanoma with conflicting results. In the light of this, we sought to explore the potential relationship between CXCR4 mRNA expression with established histopathologic prognosticators and BRAF status in melanoma. Archived consecutive samples (n=107) of primary cutaneous melanoma were retrieved and assessed for the following: CXCR4 mRNA (semiquantitative RT-PCR) and BRAF exon 15 status (DNA Sanger sequencing). Statistical analyses included correlation between CXCR4 mRNA levels and established histopathologic prognosticators as well as the BRAF status using univariate and multiple linear methods. Multivariable analyses revealed a significant correlation between elevated CXCR4 mRNA (low ΔCt value) and the presence of BRAF mutation (P=0.02). Absence of a brisk host response was associated with elevated CXCR4 mRNA expression (P=0.04). CXCR4 mRNA was significantly lower in AJCC stage 2 compared with stage 1 after controlling for significant clinical prognosticators (P=0.02). The association between elevated CXCR4 mRNA and absence of a brisk host response suggests that CXCR4 may be involved in regulation of the host immune response in melanoma and is a molecule of potential utility as a biomarker for recruiting melanoma patients for immunotherapy. Higher CXCR4 mRNA in patients with a BRAF mutation suggests its utility as a putative therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CMR.0000000000000120DOI Listing
December 2014

Protein expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 in primary cutaneous melanoma--biomarkers of potential utility?

Hum Pathol 2014 Oct 2;45(10):2094-100. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

Dermatopathology section, Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118. Electronic address:

Dysregulation of the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis, relevant in melanoma progression, activates cell cycle progression and migration via stimulation of the MAPK pathway. We sought to ascertain the cooperativity of the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis with established prognosticators and BRAF status in melanoma. Samples (n = 107) of primary cutaneous melanoma were assessed for protein expression of CXCR4 and CXCL12, and molecular analyses were performed to ascertain BRAF status. Univariate analyses of CXCR4 protein showed that the proportion of CXCR4 positives was greater in melanomas with absence of mitoses (P < .0001), absence of ulceration (P = .0008), and absence of regression (P = .02). Patients presenting at shallower stages (American Joint Committee on Cancer [AJCC] 1-2) exhibited a larger proportion of CXCR4 positives (76.9%, P < .0001 and 69.0%, P = .008), whereas those at deeper stages (AJCC 3-4) exhibited a larger proportion of negatives (75.0%, P = .004 and 66.7%, P = .22). In a multivariate analysis, lower odds of CXCR4 protein expression were associated with AJCC stage 3 (odds ratio [OR]=0.16, P = .01), AJCC stage 4 (OR=0.17, P = .04), and mitoses (OR=0.21, P = .01). Univariate analyses of CXCL12 protein showed that the proportion of CXCL12 negatives was significantly smaller in melanomas with depth of at least 1 mm, absence of ulceration, and absence of vascular invasion (P < .0001 for all). CXCR4 and CXCL12 appear to be biomarkers associated with established prognosticators of good and poor clinical outcome, respectively, in primary cutaneous melanoma. A BRAF mutation does not appear to be associated with CXCR4/CXCL12 axis upregulation in primary cutaneous melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2014.06.018DOI Listing
October 2014