Publications by authors named "Elena Scaglione"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

A novel smaller β-defensin-derived peptide is active against multidrug-resistant bacterial strains.

FASEB J 2021 12;35(12):e22026

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a severe obstacle in the fight against acute and chronic infectious diseases that accompany most degenerative illnesses from neoplasia to osteo-arthritis and obesity. Currently, the race is on to identify pharmaceutical molecules or combinations of molecules able to prevent or reduce the insurgence and/or progression of infectivity. Attempts to substitute antibiotics with antimicrobial peptides have, thus far, met with little success against multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial strains. During the last decade, we designed and studied the activity and features of human β-defensin analogs, which are salt-resistant, and hence active also under high salt concentrations as, for instance, in cystic fibrosis. Herein, we describe the design, synthesis, and major features of a new 21 aa long molecule, peptide γ2. The latter derives from the γ-core of the β-defensin natural molecules, a small fragment of these molecules still bearing high antibacterial activity. We found that peptide γ2, which contains only one disulphide bond, recapitulates most of the biological properties of natural human β-defensins and can also counteract both Gram-positive and Gram-negative MDR bacterial strains and biofilm formation. Moreover, it has great stability in human serum thereby enhancing its antibacterial presence and activity without cytotoxicity in human cells. In conclusion, peptide γ2 is a promising new weapon also in the battle against intractable infectious diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.202002330RRDOI Listing
December 2021

Microbiological Evaluation and Sperm DNA Fragmentation in Semen Samples of Patients Undergoing Fertility Investigation.

Genes (Basel) 2021 04 27;12(5). Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Naples Federico II, via S. Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy.

Fifteen percent of male infertility is associated with urogenital infections; several pathogens are able to alter the testicular and accessory glands' microenvironment, resulting in the impairment of biofunctional sperm parameters. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of urogenital infections on the quality of 53 human semen samples through standard analysis, microbiological evaluation, and molecular characterization of sperm DNA damage. The results showed a significant correlation between infected status and semen volume, sperm concentration, and motility. Moreover, a high risk of fragmented sperm DNA was demonstrated in the altered semen samples. Urogenital infections are often asymptomatic and thus an in-depth evaluation of the seminal sample can allow for both the diagnosis and therapy of infections while providing more indicators for male infertility management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes12050654DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8145398PMC
April 2021

[Validation of surgical masks during COVID19 emergency: activities at the University of Napoli Federico II].

G Ital Med Lav Ergon 2020 06;42(2):73-81

CeSMA Centro Servizi Metrologici e Tecnologici Avanzati, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Corso Nicolangelo Protopisani, 80146 Napoli, Italy.

Summary: During COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Italian Government has approved Law Decree no. 18 of 17 march 2020, in which art. 15 allows enterprises to produce, import and commercialize surgical masks notwithstanding the current rules of product certification. It is just required that the interested enterprises send to the Italian National Institute of Health a selfcertification in which they declare the technical characteristics of the masks and that masks are produced according to the safety requirements. In this context, a technical-scientific unit was established at the University of Napoli Federico II to provide interested enterprises with state-of-the-art consultancy, testing and measurement services, adhering to rigorous scientific protocols. Characterization tests were carried out on 163 surgical masks and/or materials for their construction and they have enabled the identification of pre-screening criteria to simplify the procedure for evaluating surgical masks using methods for assessing the filtration efficiency of particles and aerosols. Based on experimental results, it has been observed that a filtration efficiency for particles with sizes larger that 650 nm (PFE>650) exceeding 35% might guarantees a bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) higher than 95% while BFE values higher than 98% are obtained when the PFE>650 is larger than 40%. PFE measurement is extremely simpler with respect to BFE, the latter being time-consuming and requiring specific equipment and methods for its realization. Many tested materials have shown the capability to assure high filtration efficiencies but Spundonded-Meltblown-Spunbonded (SMS), that are layers of non-woven fabric with different weights of Meltblown, can simultaneously guarantee high particle filtration efficiencies with pressure drop values (breathability) in the limits to classify the surgical masks as Type II/IIR. In fact, the fabric products analyzed so far have not been able to simultaneously guarantee adequate BFE and breathability values. On the contrary, Spunbonds of adequate weights can virtually verify both requirements and accredit themselves as possible materials for the production of surgical masks, at least of Type I. Further studies are needed to verify the possibility of producing low-cost, reusable surgical masks that could meet the criteria of circular economy.
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June 2020

Inducing Meningococcal Meningitis Serogroup C in Mice via Intracisternal Delivery.

J Vis Exp 2019 11 5(153). Epub 2019 Nov 5.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, University of Naples Federico II; CEINGE - Advanced Biotechnology;

Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) is a narrow-host-range microorganism, globally recognized as the leading cause of bacterial meningitis. Meningococcus is a transient colonizer of human nasopharynx of approximately 10% of healthy subject. In particular circumstances, it acquires an invasive ability to penetrate the mucosal barrier and invades the bloodstream causing septicaemia. In the latest case, fulminating sepsis could arise even without the consequent development of meningitis. Conversely, bacteria could poorly multiply in the bloodstream, cross the blood brain barrier, reach the central nervous system, leading to fulminant meningitis. The murine models of bacterial meningitis represent a useful tool to investigate the host-pathogen interactions and to analyze the pathogenetic mechanisms responsible for this lethal disease. Although, several experimental model systems have been evaluated over the last decades, none of these were able to reproduce the characteristic pathological events of meningococcal disease. In this experimental protocol, we describe a detailed procedure for the induction of meningococcal meningitis in a mouse model based on the intracisternal inoculation of bacteria. The peculiar signs of human meningitis were recorded in the murine host through the assessment of clinical parameters (e.g., temperature, body weight), evaluation of survival rate, microbiological analysis and histological examination of brain injury. When using intracisternal (i.cist.) inoculum, meningococci complete delivery directly into cisterna magna, leading to a very efficient meningococcal replication in the brain tissue. A 1,000-fold increase of viable count of bacteria is observed in about 18 h. Moreover, meningococci are also found in the spleen, and liver of infected mice, suggesting that the liver may represent a target organ for meningococcal replication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/60047DOI Listing
November 2019

Virulence Traits of a Serogroup C Meningococcus and Isogenic Mutant, Defective in Surface-Exposed Sialic Acid, in a Murine Model of Meningitis.

Infect Immun 2019 04 25;87(4). Epub 2019 Mar 25.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, Federico II University, Naples, Italy

In serogroup C , the () gene codes for an UDP--acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase that catalyzes the conversion of UDP--acetyl-α-d-glucosamine into -acetyl-d-mannosamine and UDP in the first step in sialic acid biosynthesis. This enzyme is required for the biosynthesis of the (α2→9)-linked polysialic acid capsule and for lipooligosaccharide (LOS) sialylation. In this study, we have used a reference serogroup C meningococcal strain and an isogenic knockout mutant to investigate the pathogenetic role of surface-exposed sialic acids in a model of meningitis based on intracisternal inoculation of BALB/c mice. Results confirmed the key role of surface-exposed sialic acids in meningococcal pathogenesis. The 50% lethal dose (LD) of the wild-type strain 93/4286 was about four orders of magnitude lower than that of the mutant. Compared to the wild-type strain, the ability of this mutant to replicate in brain and spread systemically was severely impaired. Evaluation of brain damage evidenced a significant reduction in cerebral hemorrhages in mice infected with the mutant in comparison with the levels in those challenged with the wild-type strain. Histological analysis showed the typical features of bacterial meningitis, including inflammatory cells in the subarachnoid, perivascular, and ventricular spaces especially in animals infected with the wild type. Noticeably, 80% of mice infected with the wild-type strain presented with massive bacterial localization and accompanying inflammatory infiltrate in the , indicating high tropism of meningococci exposing sialic acids toward this brain structure and a specific involvement of the in the mouse model of meningococcal meningitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00688-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6434112PMC
April 2019

Antibacterial Activity of Pomegranate Juice and Peel Extracts on Cariogenic Bacteria.

Biomed Res Int 2017 25;2017:2152749. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Department of Science and Technology, Sannio University, Via Port'arsa, No. 11, 82100 Benevento, Italy.

Aim: To evaluate the antimicrobial activity of hydroalcoholic extracts of pomegranate ( L.) peel and juice, against the microorganisms considered the main etiologic agents of dental caries.

Methods: The values of the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and the minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were determined against Clarke ATCC® 25175™ strain and clinical isolate.

Results: Peel extracts inhibit effectively the growth and survival of ATCC 25175 strain and clinical isolate with MIC and MBC values of 10 g/l and 15 g/l, respectively. Furthermore, the pomegranate juice extract showed high inhibitory activity against ATCC 25175 strain with a MIC value of 25 g/l and a MBC value of 40 g/l, whereas, against , it has displayed a moderate inhibitory activity, with MIC and MBC values of 20 g/l and 140 g/l, respectively.

Conclusions: microbiological tests demonstrate that the hydroalcoholic extracts of pomegranate juice and peel are able to contrast the main cariogenic bacteria involved in tooth decay. Although being preliminary data, our results suggest that pomegranate polyphenolic compounds could represent a good adjuvant for the prevention and treatment of dental caries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2017/2152749DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5676346PMC
July 2018

Genotyping of Toxoplasma gondii strain directly from human CSF samples of congenital toxoplasmosis clinical case.

New Microbiol 2017 Apr 3;40(2):151-154. Epub 2017 Apr 3.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, Federico II University Medical School, Naples, Italy.

This report describes a case of congenital toxoplasmosis in a newborn in Southern Italy. A pregnant mother had been admitted at the 20th week of her pregnancy on account of pharyngodynia and laterocervical lymphadenopathy. Although serological testing of the mother's serum documented a seroconversion with positive IgG and IgM anti-Toxoplasma antibodies during II trimester, the woman refused to perform prenatal diagnosis for congenital toxoplasmosis. Fetal ultrasound scan already showed mild asymmetrical triventricular hydrocephaly and cerebral calcifications. After birth, real-time PCR on cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples of the newborn showed a positive result for 529bp-repeat element DNA of T. gondii, In addition brain magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography showed a characteristic diffuse brain tissue loss associated with hydrocephalus. For the first time molecular characterization of T. gondii isolate was performed directly from the newborn's CSF samples by using nested-PCR-RFLP of sag-2 and pk1 genes. The PCR-RLFP analysis revealed that the isolate belongs to the clonal type II, the predominant lineage causing human toxoplasmosis, as confirmed by DNA sequencing.
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April 2017

Novel Approach for Evaluation of Protective Role against Liver Damage in Immunocompromised Murine Model.

Front Microbiol 2016 7;7:1750. Epub 2016 Nov 7.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, Federico II University Medical SchoolNaples, Italy; CEINGE-Advanced BiotechnologiesNaples, Italy.

is a gram-negative facultative intracellular bacterium and is the causative agent of cat-scratch disease. Our previous data have established that colonization is able to prevent damages through the polysaccharide A (PSA) in an experimental murine model. In order to determine whether the PSA is essential for the protection against pathogenic effects of in immunocompromised hosts, SCID mice were co-infected with wild type or its mutant ΔPSA and the effects of infection on murine tissues have been observed by High-Frequency Ultrasound (HFUS), histopathological examination, and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). For the first time, echostructure, hepatic lobes length, vascular alterations, and indirect signs of hepatic dysfunctions, routinely used as signs of disease in humans, have been analyzed in an immunocompromised murine model. Our findings showed echostructural alterations in all infected mice compared with the Phosphate Buffer Solution (PBS) control group; further, those infected with and co-infected with ΔPSA presented the major echostructural alterations. Half of the mice infected with and all those co-infected with ΔPSA have showed an altered hepatic echogenicity compared with the renal cortex. The echogenicity score of co-infected mice with ΔPSA differed significantly compared with the PBS control group (p < 0.05). Moreover the inflammation score of the histopathological evaluation was fairly concordant with ultrasound findings. Ultrastructural analysis performed by TEM revealed no significant alterations in liver samples of SCID mice infected with wild type while those infected with ΔPSA showed the presence of collagen around the main vessels compared with the PBS control group. The liver samples of mice infected with showed macro-areas rich in collagen, stellate cells, and histiocytic cells. Interestingly, our data demonstrated that immunocompromised SCID mice infected with and co-infected with ΔPSA showed the most severe morpho-structural liver damage. In addition, these results suggests that the HFUS together with histopathological evaluation could be considered good imaging approach to evaluate hepatic alterations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01750DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5097911PMC
November 2016

Fitness Cost of Rifampin Resistance in Neisseria meningitidis: In Vitro Study of Mechanisms Associated with rpoB H553Y Mutation.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2015 Dec 28;59(12):7637-49. Epub 2015 Sep 28.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, Federico II University Medical School, Naples, Italy Ceinge Advanced Biotechnologies, Naples, Italy

Rifampin chemoprophylaxis against Neisseria meningitidis infections led to the onset of rifampin resistance in clinical isolates harboring point mutations in the rpoB gene, coding for the RNA polymerase β chain. These resistant strains are rare in medical practice, suggesting their decreased fitness in the human host. In this study, we isolated rifampin-resistant rpoB mutants from hypervirulent serogroup C strain 93/4286 and analyzed their different properties, including the ability to grow/survive in different culture media and in differentiated THP-1 human monocytes and to compete with the wild-type strain in vitro. Our results demonstrate that different rpoB mutations (H553Y, H553R, and S549F) may have different effects, ranging from low- to high-cost effects, on bacterial fitness in vitro. Moreover, we found that the S549F mutation confers temperature sensitivity, possibly explaining why it is observed very rarely in clinical isolates. Comparative high-throughput RNA sequencing analysis of bacteria grown in chemically defined medium demonstrated that the low-cost H553Y substitution resulted in global transcriptional changes that functionally mimic the stringent response. Interestingly, many virulence-associated genes, including those coding for meningococcal type IV pili, porin A, adhesins/invasins, IgA protease, two-partner secretion system HrpA/HrpB, enzymes involved in resistance to oxidative injury, lipooligosaccharide sialylation, and capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis, were downregulated in the H553Y mutant compared to their level of expression in the wild-type strain. These data might account for the reduced capacity of this mutant to grow/survive in differentiated THP-1 cells and explain the rarity of H553Y mutants among clinical isolates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01746-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4649176PMC
December 2015
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