Publications by authors named "Francesco Doro"

13 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Tropheryma whipplei intestinal colonization in Italian and migrant population: a retrospective observational study.

Future Microbiol 2019 03 11;14:283-292. Epub 2019 Mar 11.

Centre for Tropical Diseases, IRCCS Sacro Cuore - Don Calabria Hospital, Via Sempreboni 5, 37024 Negrar, Italy.

Aim: To obtain the first molecular epidemiological survey of Tropheryma whipplei intestinal colonization in Italy. Materials & methods: Retrospective, observational study to assess the prevalence of T. whipplei, the causative agent of Whipple's disease, in stool samples (real-time PCR) of patients attending the Center for Tropical Diseases (Italy) and risk factors associated.

Results: Overall prevalence was 6.9% (85/1240). The younger age group showed a significantly higher rate than older age group (12.7 vs 5.9%, p = 0.002). The prevalence was 4.9% for Italians and 9.3% for migrants (p = 0.003). Among the latter, children less than 10 years had higher prevalence than older ones (17.3 vs 7.3%, p = 0.003). The young age, male gender and Giardia duodenalis and Entamoeba histolytica coinfection were risk factors.

Conclusion: Our study confirms an increased risk of acquiring T. whipplei infection during childhood, under poor sanitary conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/fmb-2018-0347DOI Listing
March 2019

The Human Pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes Releases Lipoproteins as Lipoprotein-rich Membrane Vesicles.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2015 Aug 27;14(8):2138-49. Epub 2015 May 27.

From the ‡Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics (a GSK company), Via Fiorentiina 1, 53100 Siena, Itlay;

Bacterial lipoproteins are attractive vaccine candidates because they represent a major class of cell surface-exposed proteins in many bacteria and are considered as potential pathogen-associated molecular patterns sensed by Toll-like receptors with built-in adjuvanticity. Although Gram-negative lipoproteins have been extensively characterized, little is known about Gram-positive lipoproteins. We isolated from Streptococcus pyogenes a large amount of lipoproteins organized in vesicles. These vesicles were obtained by weakening the bacterial cell wall with a sublethal concentration of penicillin. Lipid and proteomic analysis of the vesicles revealed that they were enriched in phosphatidylglycerol and almost exclusively composed of lipoproteins. In association with lipoproteins, a few hypothetical proteins, penicillin-binding proteins, and several members of the ExPortal, a membrane microdomain responsible for the maturation of secreted proteins, were identified. The typical lipidic moiety was apparently not necessary for lipoprotein insertion in the vesicle bilayer because they were also recovered from the isogenic diacylglyceryl transferase deletion mutant. The vesicles were not able to activate specific Toll-like receptor 2, indicating that lipoproteins organized in these vesicular structures do not act as pathogen-associated molecular patterns. In light of these findings, we propose to name these new structures Lipoprotein-rich Membrane Vesicles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M114.045880DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528243PMC
August 2015

Rational design of small molecules as vaccine adjuvants.

Sci Transl Med 2014 Nov;6(263):263ra160

Novartis Vaccines, 45 Sidney Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Adjuvants increase vaccine potency largely by activating innate immunity and promoting inflammation. Limiting the side effects of this inflammation is a major hurdle for adjuvant use in vaccines for humans. It has been difficult to improve on adjuvant safety because of a poor understanding of adjuvant mechanism and the empirical nature of adjuvant discovery and development historically. We describe new principles for the rational optimization of small-molecule immune potentiators (SMIPs) targeting Toll-like receptor 7 as adjuvants with a predicted increase in their therapeutic indices. Unlike traditional drugs, SMIP-based adjuvants need to have limited bioavailability and remain localized for optimal efficacy. These features also lead to temporally and spatially restricted inflammation that should decrease side effects. Through medicinal and formulation chemistry and extensive immunopharmacology, we show that in vivo potency can be increased with little to no systemic exposure, localized innate immune activation and short in vivo residence times of SMIP-based adjuvants. This work provides a systematic and generalizable approach to engineering small molecules for use as vaccine adjuvants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3009980DOI Listing
November 2014

Immunization with the RrgB321 fusion protein protects mice against both high and low pilus-expressing Streptococcus pneumoniae populations.

Vaccine 2012 Feb 30;30(7):1349-56. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

RrgB321, a fusion protein of the three Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus-1 backbone RrgB variants, is protective in vivo against pilus islet 1 (PI-1) positive pneumococci. In addition, antibodies to RrgB321 mediate a complement-dependent opsonophagocytosis of PI-1 positive strains at levels comparable to those obtained with antisera against glycoconjugate vaccines. In the pneumococcus, pilus-1 displays a biphasic expression pattern, with different proportions of two bacterial phenotypes, one expressing and one not expressing the pilus-1. These two populations can be stably separated in vitro giving rise to the enriched high (H) and low (L) pilus expressing populations. In this work we demonstrate that: (i) the opsonophagocytic killing mediated in vitro by RrgB321 antisera is strictly dependent on the pilus expression ratio of the strain used; (ii) during the opsonophagocytosis assay pilus-expressing pneumococci are selectively killed, and (iii) no switch towards the pilus non-expressing phenotype can be observed. Furthermore, in sepsis and pneumonia models, mice immunized with RrgB321 are significantly protected against challenge with either the H or the L pilus-expressing population of strains representative of the three RrgB variants. This suggests that the pilus-1 expression is not down-regulated, and also that the expression of the pilus-1 could be up-regulated in vivo. In conclusion, these data provide evidence that RrgB321 is protective against PI-1 positive strains regardless of their pilus expression level, and support the rationale for the inclusion of this fusion protein into a multi-component protein-based pneumococcal vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.12.080DOI Listing
February 2012

RrgB321, a fusion protein of the three variants of the pneumococcal pilus backbone RrgB, is protective in vivo and elicits opsonic antibodies.

Infect Immun 2012 Jan 14;80(1):451-60. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Research Center, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics s.r.l., Siena, Italy.

Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus 1 is present in 30 to 50% of invasive disease-causing strains and is composed of three subunits: the adhesin RrgA, the major backbone subunit RrgB, and the minor ancillary protein RrgC. RrgB exists in three distinct genetic variants and, when used to immunize mice, induces an immune response specific for each variant. To generate an antigen able to protect against the infection caused by all pilus-positive S. pneumoniae strains, we engineered a fusion protein containing the three RrgB variants (RrgB321). RrgB321 elicited antibodies against proteins from organisms in the three clades and protected mice against challenge with piliated pneumococcal strains. RrgB321 antisera mediated complement-dependent opsonophagocytosis of piliated strains at levels comparable to those achieved with the PCV7 glycoconjugate vaccine. These results suggest that a vaccine composed of RrgB321 has the potential to cover 30% or more of all pneumococcal strains and support the inclusion of this fusion protein in a multicomponent vaccine against S. pneumoniae.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.05780-11DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3255673PMC
January 2012

Children and adolescents treated with neridronate for osteogenesis imperfecta show no evidence of any osteonecrosis of the jaw.

J Bone Miner Metab 2012 Jul 8;30(4):434-8. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Department of Life Sciences and Reproduction Sciences, Pediatric Clinic, University of Verona, General Hospital Giambattista Rossi, Piazzale Ludovico Antonio Scuro 10, 37134 Verona, Italy.

Over recent years, several reports have been published on unusual cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) in adults using second- and third-generation nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates such as pamidronate, alendronate, risedronate and zoledronate, but no case has ever been reported either in children or in adult patients taking neridronate. Children and adolescents affected by osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) could belong to a high-risk group for ONJ because bone fragility in OI is associated with a connective tissue malfunction. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the incidence of ONJ in a pediatric population treated with neridronate for OI. A total of 102 pediatric patients with OI who received neridronate infusions for a mean of 6.81 years (SD ± 3.06 years) were clinically assessed for possible ONJ. Eligibility criteria for participation included patients between 1.2 and 24 years old who received cyclical neridronate infusions for at least 1 year. All the patients were reviewed to determine duration, dosage and cumulative dose of their bisphosphonate therapy and were examined clinically to assess their oral health status. We have not demonstrated any occurrence of ONJ in our patients. In conclusion, at the moment insufficient data are available to prove a greater risk of ONJ in children with OI than in children affected by other forms of bone fragility. However, cases may emerge in future because the risk of ONJ seems to be related to the cumulative dose and the duration of therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00774-011-0331-3DOI Listing
July 2012

Rational design of a meningococcal antigen inducing broad protective immunity.

Sci Transl Med 2011 Jul;3(91):91ra62

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics S.r.l., Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy.

The sequence variability of protective antigens is a major challenge to the development of vaccines. For Neisseria meningitidis, the bacterial pathogen that causes meningitis, the amino acid sequence of the protective antigen factor H binding protein (fHBP) has more than 300 variations. These sequence differences can be classified into three distinct groups of antigenic variants that do not induce cross-protective immunity. Our goal was to generate a single antigen that would induce immunity against all known sequence variants of N. meningitidis. To achieve this, we rationally designed, expressed, and purified 54 different mutants of fHBP and tested them in mice for the induction of protective immunity. We identified and determined the crystal structure of a lead chimeric antigen that was able to induce high levels of cross-protective antibodies in mice against all variant strains tested. The new fHBP antigen had a conserved backbone that carried an engineered surface containing specificities for all three variant groups. We demonstrate that the structure-based design of multiple immunodominant antigenic surfaces on a single protein scaffold is possible and represents an effective way to create broadly protective vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3002234DOI Listing
July 2011

Current and emerging treatments for the management of osteogenesis imperfecta.

Ther Clin Risk Manag 2010 Sep 7;6:367-81. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Department of Life Sciences and Reproduction, Pediatric Clinic University of Verona, Verona, Italy;

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is the most common bone genetic disorder and it is characterized by bone brittleness and various degrees of growth disorder. Clinical severity varies widely; nowadays eight types are distinguished and two new forms have been recently described although not yet classified. The approach to such a variable and heterogeneous disease should be global and therefore multidisciplinary. For simplicity, the objectives of treatment can be reduced to three typical situations: the lethal perinatal form (type II), in which the problem is survival at birth; the severe and moderate forms (types III-IX), in which the objective is 'autonomy'; and the mild form (type I), in which the aim is to reach 'normal life'. Three types of treatment are available: non-surgical management (physical therapy, rehabilitation, bracing and splinting), surgical management (intramedullary rod positioning, spinal and basilar impression surgery) and medical-pharmacological management (drugs to increase the strength of bone and decrease the number of fractures as bisphosphonates or growth hormone, depending on the type of OI). Suggestions and guidelines for a therapeutic approach are indicated and updated with the most recent findings in OI diagnosis and treatment.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2940745PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s5932DOI Listing
September 2010

GH in combination with bisphosphonate treatment in osteogenesis imperfecta.

Eur J Endocrinol 2010 Sep 30;163(3):479-87. Epub 2010 Jun 30.

Department of Mother and Child, Biology and Genetics, Pediatric Clinic, University of Verona, Policlinico Giambattista Rossi, Piazza Ludovico Antonio Scuro, 10, I-37134 Verona, Italy.

Objective: To verify the effects of bisphosphonates (Bps) in combination with recombinant human GH (rGH) in pediatric osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) patients; we focused on possible improvement of bone mineral density (BMD), projected bone areas, growth velocity, and fractures risk.

Design: A randomized controlled 1-year clinical trial on 30 prepubertal children (M:F=14:16) affected by OI (type I, IV, and III) being treated with neridronate.

Methods: Following an observational period of 12 months during ongoing neridronate treatment, the patients were randomly divided into two groups: 15 were treated for 12 months with rGH and neridronate (group Bp+rGH) and 15 continued neridronate alone (group Bp). We evaluated auxological parameters, number of fractures, bone age (BA), bone metabolic parameters, and bone mass measurements (at lumbar spine and radius by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry).

Results: The mean variation in percentage of BMD (Delta%BMD)--at lumbar spine (L2-L4), at distal and ultradistal radius--and the projected area of lumbar spine increased significantly in group Bp+rGH (P<0.05). Growth velocity was significantly higher during rGH treatment in group Bp+rGH versus group Bp and versus pretreatment (P<0.05), with no difference in increase in BA or fracture risk rate. Patients with quantitative (-qt) collagen synthesis defects had a higher, although not significant, response to rGH in terms of growth velocity and BMD.

Conclusions: In OI patients, the combined rGH-Bp treatment may give better results than Bp treatment alone, in terms of BMD, lumbar spine projected area and growth velocity, particularly in patients with quantitative defects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-10-0208DOI Listing
September 2010

Surfome analysis as a fast track to vaccine discovery: identification of a novel protective antigen for Group B Streptococcus hypervirulent strain COH1.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2009 Jul 28;8(7):1728-37. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Research Centre, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Safe recombinant vaccines, based on a small number of antigenic proteins, are emerging as the most attractive, cost-effective solution against infectious diseases. In the present work, we confirmed previous data from our laboratory showing that whole viable bacterial cell treatment with proteases followed by the identification of released peptides by mass spectrometry is the method of choice for the rapid and reliable identification of vaccine candidates in Gram-positive bacteria. When applied to the Group B Streptococcus COH1 strain, 43 surface-associated proteins were identified, including all the protective antigens described in the literature as well as a new protective antigen, the cell wall-anchored protein SAN_1485 belonging to the serine-rich repeat protein family. This strategy overcomes the difficulties so far encountered in the identification of novel vaccine candidates and speeds up the entire vaccine discovery process by reducing the number of recombinant proteins to be tested in the animal model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M800486-MCP200DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709197PMC
July 2009

Proteomics characterization of outer membrane vesicles from the extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli DeltatolR IHE3034 mutant.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2008 Mar 2;7(3):473-85. Epub 2007 Nov 2.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli are the cause of a diverse spectrum of invasive infections in humans and animals, leading to urinary tract infections, meningitis, or septicemia. In this study, we focused our attention on the identification of the outer membrane proteins of the pathogen in consideration of their important biological role and of their use as potential targets for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. To this aim, we generated a DeltatolR mutant of the pathogenic IHE3034 strain that spontaneously released a large quantity of outer membrane vesicles in the culture supernatant. The vesicles were analyzed by two-dimensional electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry. The analysis led to the identification of 100 proteins, most of which are localized to the outer membrane and periplasmic compartments. Interestingly based on the genome sequences available in the current public database, seven of the identified proteins appear to be specific for pathogenic E. coli and enteric bacteria and therefore are potential targets for vaccine and drug development. Finally we demonstrated that the cytolethal distending toxin, a toxin exclusively produced by pathogenic bacteria, is released in association with the vesicles, supporting the recently proposed role of bacterial vesicles in toxin delivery to host cells. Overall, our data demonstrated that outer membrane vesicles represent an ideal tool to study Gram-negative periplasm and outer membrane compartments and to shed light on new mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M700295-MCP200DOI Listing
March 2008

Outer membrane vesicles from group B Neisseria meningitidis delta gna33 mutant: proteomic and immunological comparison with detergent-derived outer membrane vesicles.

Proteomics 2006 Mar;6(6):1856-66

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit, Chiron Vaccines, Siena, Italy.

We compared the proteome of detergent-derived group B Neisseria meningitidis (MenB) outer membrane vesicles (DOMVs) with the proteome of outer membrane vesicles (m-OMVs) spontaneously released into culture supernatant by MenB delta gna33, a mutant in which the gene coding for a lytic transglycosylase homologous to the E. coli MltA was deleted. In total, 138 proteins were identified in DOMVs by 1- and 2-DE coupled with MS; 64% of these proteins belonged to the inner membrane and cytoplasmic compartments. By contrast, most of the 60 proteins of m-OMVs were classified by PSORT as outer membrane proteins. When tested for their capacity to elicit bactericidal antibodies, m-OMVs elicited a broad protective activity against a large panel of MenB strains. Therefore, the identification of mutations capable of conferring an OMV-releasing phenotype in bacteria may represent an attractive approach to study bacterial membrane composition and organization, and to design new efficacious vaccine formulations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200500164DOI Listing
March 2006

Characterization and identification of vaccine candidate proteins through analysis of the group A Streptococcus surface proteome.

Nat Biotechnol 2006 Feb 15;24(2):191-7. Epub 2006 Jan 15.

Chiron Vaccines, Via Fiorentina, 1 53100 Siena, Italy.

We describe a proteomic approach for identifying bacterial surface-exposed proteins quickly and reliably for their use as vaccine candidates. Whole cells are treated with proteases to selectively digest protruding proteins that are subsequently identified by mass spectrometry analysis of the released peptides. When applied to the sequenced M1_SF370 group A Streptococcus strain, 68 PSORT-predicted surface-associated proteins were identified, including most of the protective antigens described in the literature. The number of surface-exposed proteins varied from strain to strain, most likely as a consequence of different capsule content. The surface-exposed proteins of the highly virulent M23_DSM2071 strain included 17 proteins, 15 in common with M1_SF370. When 14 of the 17 proteins were expressed in E. coli and tested in the mouse for their capacity to confer protection against a lethal dose of M23_DSM2071, one new protective antigen (Spy0416) was identified. This strategy overcomes the difficulties so far encountered in surface protein characterization and has great potential in vaccine discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt1179DOI Listing
February 2006