Publications by authors named "Giovanni Pizzolo"

121 Publications

The pathogenic role of epithelial and endothelial cells in early-phase COVID-19 pneumonia: victims and partners in crime.

Mod Pathol 2021 Apr 21. Epub 2021 Apr 21.

Department of Pathology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.

Current understanding of the complex pathogenesis of COVID-19 interstitial pneumonia pathogenesis in the light of biopsies carried out in early/moderate phase and histology data obtained at postmortem analysis is discussed. In autopsies the most observed pattern is diffuse alveolar damage with alveolar-epithelial type-II cell hyperplasia, hyaline membranes, and frequent thromboembolic disease. However, these observations cannot explain some clinical, radiological and physiopathological features observed in SARS-CoV-2 interstitial pneumonia, including the occurrence of vascular enlargement on CT and preserved lung compliance in subjects even presenting with or developing respiratory failure. Histological investigation on early-phase pneumonia on perioperative samples and lung biopsies revealed peculiar morphological and morpho-phenotypical changes including hyper-expression of phosphorylated STAT3 and immune checkpoint molecules (PD-L1 and IDO) in alveolar-epithelial and endothelial cells. These features might explain in part these discrepancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41379-021-00808-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8058579PMC
April 2021

Covid-19 Interstitial Pneumonia: Histological and Immunohistochemical Features on Cryobiopsies.

Respiration 2021 Mar 16:1-11. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Pulmonology Unit, Thoracic Diseases Department, G.B. Morgagni Hospital, Forlì, Italy.

Background: The pathogenetic steps leading to Covid-19 interstitial pneumonia remain to be clarified. Most postmortem studies to date reveal diffuse alveolar damage as the most relevant histologic pattern. Antemortem lung biopsy may however provide more precise data regarding the earlier stages of the disease, providing a basis for novel treatment approaches.

Objectives: To ascertain the morphological and immunohistochemical features of lung samples obtained in patients with moderate Covid-19 pneumonia.

Methods: Transbronchial lung cryobiopsy was carried out in 12 Covid-19 patients within 20 days of symptom onset.

Results: Histopathologic changes included spots of patchy acute lung injury with alveolar type II cell hyperplasia, with no evidence of hyaline membranes. Strong nuclear expression of phosphorylated STAT3 was observed in >50% of AECII. Interalveolar capillaries showed enlarged lumen and were in part arranged in superposed rows. Pulmonary venules were characterized by luminal enlargement, thickened walls, and perivascular CD4+ T-cell infiltration. A strong nuclear expression of phosphorylated STAT3, associated with PD-L1 and IDO expression, was observed in endothelial cells of venules and interstitial capillaries. Alveolar spaces macrophages exhibited a peculiar phenotype (CD68, CD11c, CD14, CD205, CD206, CD123/IL3AR, and PD-L1).

Conclusions: Morphologically distinct features were identified in early stages of Covid-19 pneumonia, with epithelial and endothelial cell abnormalities different from either classical interstitial lung diseases or diffuse alveolar damage. Alveolar type II cell hyperplasia was a prominent event in the majority of cases. Inflammatory cells expressed peculiar phenotypes. No evidence of hyaline membranes and endothelial changes characterized by IDO expression might in part explain the compliance and the characteristic pulmonary vasoplegia observed in less-advanced Covid-19 pneumonia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000514822DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8018216PMC
March 2021

Effects of CD20 antibodies and kinase inhibitors on B-cell receptor signalling and survival of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells.

Br J Haematol 2021 01 20;192(2):333-342. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Research Center LURM (Interdepartmental Laboratory of Medical Research), University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Recently, clinical trial results have established inhibitors of B-cell receptor (BCR)-associated kinase (BAKi), with or without CD20 moniclonal antibodies (mAbs), as the preferred first-line treatment for most chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients. Using phosphospecific flow cytometry, we showed that in leukaemic cells from CLL patients the CD20 therapeutic antibodies - rituximab, ofatumumab, and obinutuzumab - inhibited BCR signalling pathways targeting preferentially pBTK - but not BTK - and pAKT. On the contrary, ibrutinib and idelalisib reduced pBTK to a higher extent than pBTK . The strong reduction of pAKT induced by idelalisib was enhanced by its combination with rituximab or ofatumumab. Moreover, CD20 mAbs and BAKi induced the death of leukaemia cells that was significantly potentiated by their combination. Analysis of the enhancement of cell death in these combinations revealed an approximately additive enhancement induced by rituximab or obinutuzumab combined with ibrutinib or idelalisib. Taken together, our data identified negative regulatory effects of CD20 mAbs and their combinations with BAKi on BCR signalling and cell survival in CLL. In conclusion, this study advances our understanding of mechanisms of action of CD20 mAbs as single agents or in combination with BAKi and could inform on the potential of combined therapies in ongoing and future clinical trials in patients with CLL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.17139DOI Listing
January 2021

Nelarabine as salvage therapy and bridge to allogeneic stem cell transplant in 118 adult patients with relapsed/refractory T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma. A CAMPUS ALL study.

Am J Hematol 2020 12 31;95(12):1466-1472. Epub 2020 Aug 31.

Ematologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Traslazionale e di Precisione, "Sapienza" Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.

The outcome of relapsed or refractory (R/R) T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL/T-LBL) in adults is poor, with less than 20% of patients surviving at 5 years. Nelarabine is the only drug specifically approved for R/R T-ALL/T-LBL, but the information to support its use is based on limited available data. The aim of this observational phase four study was to provide recent additional data on the efficacy and safety of nelarabine in adults with R/R T-ALL/T-LBL and to evaluate the feasibility and outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (SCT) after salvage with nelarabine therapy. The primary endpoints were overall response rate (ORR) and overall survival (OS). Additional endpoints were safety, SCT rate and post-SCT OS. Between May 2007 and November 2018, 118 patients received nelarabine salvage therapy at 27 Italian hematology sites. The median age was 37 years (range 18-74 years), 73% were male, 77 had a diagnosis of T-ALL and 41 of T-LBL, and 65/118 (55%) had received more than two lines of therapy. The median number of nelarabine cycles was two (range 1-4); 43/118 (36%) patients had complete remission (CR), 16 had partial remission (14%) and 59 (50%) were refractory, with an ORR of 50%. The probability of OS, from the first dose of nelarabine, was 37% at 1 year with a median survival of 8 months. The OS at 1 year was significantly better for the 47 patients (40%) who underwent SCT after nelarabine salvage therapy (58% vs 22%, log-rank P < .001). The probability of OS at 2 and 5 years from SCT was 46% and 38%, respectively. Seventy-five patients (64%) experienced one or more drug-related adverse events (AE). Grade III-IV neurologic toxicities were observed in 9/118 (8%) of cases and thrombocytopenia or/and neutropenia (grade III-IV) were reported in 41% and 43% of cases, respectively. In conclusion, this is one of the largest cohorts of adult patients with R/R T-ALL/T-LBL treated in real life with nelarabine. Taking into account the poor prognosis of this patient population, nelarabine represents an effective option with an ORR of 50% and a CR rate of 36%. In addition, 40% of cases following nelarabine salvage therapy could undergo SCT with an expected OS at 2 and 5 years of 46% and 38%, respectively. The safety profile of nelarabine was acceptable with only 8% of cases showing grade III-IV neurological AE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.25957DOI Listing
December 2020

CAL2 monoclonal antibody is a rapid and sensitive assay for the detection of calreticulin mutations in essential thrombocythemia patients.

Ann Hematol 2019 Oct 27;98(10):2339-2346. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology, University of Verona, P.le L.A.Scuro 10, Verona, 37134, Italy.

Calreticulin (CALR) mutations are detected in the majority of JAK2 wild type patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET). Unlike JAK2 and MPL point mutations, CALR mutations are highly heterogeneous, with several types of indels being reported so far. CAL2 is a monoclonal antibody specifically recognizing the C-neoterminal peptide derived from all the frameshift mutations of CALR. We retrospectively analysed 172 ET patients diagnosed at our Institution from 1980 to 2015. In JAK2- and MPL-wild type patients CALR mutations were searched on peripheral blood and CAL2 immunostaining was performed on bone marrow. In addition, bone marrow biopsies were histologically reviewed for megakaryocytic features. Thirty-one patients (18%) were CALR-mutated. Concordance between molecular and immunohistological detection of CALR mutations was near complete, albeit a single patient was found to be positive by molecular tests only. Two patterns were defined in CAL2-positive bone marrow samples, characterized by staining of almost only megakaryocytes (pattern A: 41%) or staining of megakaryocytes and ≥ 2% small non megakaryocytic elements (pattern B: 59%), at least partially being myeloid precursors. Pattern B biopsies had higher cellularity and number of megakaryocytes compared to pattern A samples. In this series, CAL2 allowed rapid and cost-efficient identification of CALR-mutated ET patients. The biological significance of different staining pattern should be confirmed in wider and independent series.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-019-03741-8DOI Listing
October 2019

Safety and efficacy of switching from branded to generic imatinib in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated in Italy.

Leuk Res 2018 11 2;74:75-79. Epub 2018 Oct 2.

Division of Hematology and BMT, Department of Medical Area, University of Udine, Italy.

The use of generic drugs after patent expiration of their originators is a relative novelty in the treatment of chronic cancer patients in Western countries. In this observational study we analyzed a cohort of 294 Italian chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated frontline with branded imatinib (Glivec®) for at least 6 months and then uniformly switched to generic imatinib upon requirement of health authorities in early 2017. Median age at diagnosis was 57 years (range 19-87). Sokal risk was low/intermediate/high in 55%, 32% and 8% of cases, respectively. Median duration of branded imatinib treatment was 7.4 years (range 0.5-16.7). At a median follow-up of 7.5 months after switch to generic imatinib, 17% of patients reported new or worsening side effects, but grade 3-4 non-hematological adverse events were rare. Six patients switched back to branded imatinib, with improvement in the side effect profile, and 4 pts moved to bosutinib or nilotinib for resistance/intolerance. The majority of patients were in major (26%) or deep molecular response (66%) at the time of switch. Molecular responses remained stable, improved or worsened in 61%, 25% and 14% of patients, respectively. We conclude that switch to generic imatinib for patients who have been receiving branded imatinib appears to be effective and safe. Molecular responses may continue to improve over time. Some patients experienced new or worsened side effects but less than 5% of the whole cohort needed to switch back to branded imatinib or move to other treatments. Savings were around 3 million Euros.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2018.09.018DOI Listing
November 2018

Excellent outcomes of 2G-TKI therapy after imatinib failure in chronic phase CML patients.

Oncotarget 2018 Mar 12;9(18):14219-14227. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

Division of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, Department of Medical Area, ASUI Udine, Udine, Italy.

Second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (2G-TKIs) dasatinib and nilotinib produced historical rates of about 50% complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) and about 40% major molecular response (MMR) in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients failing imatinib. Direct comparisons between dasatinib and nilotinib are lacking, and few studies addressed the dynamics of deep molecular response (DMR) in a "real-life" setting. We retrospectively analyzed 163 patients receiving dasatinib ( = 95) or nilotinib ( = 68) as second-line therapy after imatinib. The two cohorts were comparable for disease's characteristics, although there was a higher rate of dasatinib use in imatinib-resistant and of nilotinib in intolerant patients. Overall, 75% patients not in CCyR and 60% patients not in MMR at 2G-TKI start attained this response. DMR was achieved by 61 patients (37.4%), with estimated rate of stable DMR at 5 years of 24%. After a median follow-up of 48 months, 60% of patients persisted on their second-line treatment. Rates and kinetics of cytogenetic and molecular responses, progression-free and overall survival were similar for dasatinib and nilotinib. In a "real-life" setting, dasatinib and nilotinib resulted equally effective and safe after imatinib failure, determining high rates of CCyR and MMR, and a significant chance of stable DMR, a prerequisite for treatment discontinuation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24478DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5865665PMC
March 2018

Low expression confers redox hypersensitivity and identifies an indolent clinical behavior in CLL.

Blood 2018 04 21;131(17):1942-1954. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Research Center LURM, Interdepartmental Laboratory of Medical Research.

B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling is a key determinant of variable clinical behavior and a target for therapeutic interventions in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Endogenously produced HO is thought to fine-tune the BCR signaling by reversibly inhibiting phosphatases. However, little is known about how CLL cells sense and respond to such redox cues and what effect they have on CLL. We characterized the response of BCR signaling proteins to exogenous HO in cells from patients with CLL, using phosphospecific flow cytometry. Exogenous HO in the absence of BCR engagement induced a signaling response of BCR proteins that was higher in CLL with favorable prognostic parameters and an indolent clinical course. We identified low expression as a possible mechanism accounting for redox signaling hypersensitivity. Decreased catalase could cause an escalated accumulation of exogenous HO in leukemic cells with a consequent greater inhibition of phosphatases and an increase of redox signaling sensitivity. Moreover, lower levels of were significantly associated with a slower progression of the disease. In leukemic cells characterized by redox hypersensitivity, we also documented an elevated accumulation of ROS and an increased mitochondrial amount. Taken together, our data identified redox sensitivity and metabolic profiles that are linked to differential clinical behavior in CLL. This study advances our understanding of the redox and signaling heterogeneity of CLL and provides the rationale for the development of therapies targeting redox pathways in CLL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2017-08-800466DOI Listing
April 2018

Bortezomib, Thalidomide and Lenalidomide: Have They Really Changed the Outcome of Multiple Myeloma?

Anticancer Res 2016 Mar;36(3):1059-65

Department of Medicine, Hematology and Clinical Immunology, Padua University School of Medicine, Padua, Italy.

Treatment of multiple myeloma (MM) has significantly improved, although the disease remains incurable. Prospective clinical trials evaluating the impact on outcome of new drugs such as proteasome inhibitors or immunomodulating agents are limited since they are not able to reflect the clinical routine and available retrospective data are not detailed enough to directly evaluate the value of new drugs. To address these information gaps, we performed a retrospective real-life analysis. We retrospectively assessed 949 patients treated for multiple myeloma or plasma cell leukemia at three Italian cancer centers in the years 1979-2014. Clinical features at the time of diagnosis were consistent with what was observed in clinical routine. A total of 39% of patients underwent high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). The median overall survival (OS) of the whole group was 5.4 years and ranged from 3.4 years for patients who did not receive at least one of the new drugs compared to 5.9 years in the other patients (p<0.001). The improvement in OS due to administration of new drugs was also observed among different prognostic sub-groups such as age, Durie and Salmon stage, international staging system and renal impairment. Availability of new drugs significantly improved survival of patients who underwent ASCT and also those who did not. In conclusion, we provided evidence that the advent of the new drugs drastically improved the outcome of patients with MM, also in cases with poor risk at the time of diagnosis. ASCT is still of major importance in the treatment of this disease. Nevertheless, MM remains incurable and new therapeutic approaches are warranted.
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March 2016

Expression and function of the TL1A/DR3 axis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Oncotarget 2015 Oct;6(31):32061-74

Interdepartmental Laboratory of Medical Research (LURM), University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

TNF-like ligand 1A (TL1A) and its unique receptor death receptor 3 (DR3) acts as broad T-cell costimulator involved in regulatory mechanisms of adaptive immune response under physiological and pathological settings. Moreover, we have recently shown that TL1A negatively regulates B-cell proliferation. Despite increasing interest on the TL1A/DR3-axis functions, very little is known on its expression and role in leukemia. In this study, we investigated the expression and function of TL1A/DR3 axis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). DR3 was differentially expressed in activated CLL cells and predominantly detected in patients with early clinical stage disease. Soluble TL1A has been revealed in the sera of CLL patients where higher TL1A levels were associated with early stage disease. T cells, monocytes and leukemic B cells have been identified as major sources of TL1A in CLL. The relevance of these findings has been sustained by functional data showing that exogenous TL1A reduces CLL proliferation induced by stimulation of the B cell receptor. Overall, these data document the expression of the TL1A/DR3 axis in early-stage CLL. They also identify a novel function for TL1A as a negative regulator of leukemic cell proliferation that may influence the CLL physiopathology and clinical outcome at an early-stage disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4741659PMC
October 2015

Cellular Senescence Markers p16INK4a and p21CIP1/WAF Are Predictors of Hodgkin Lymphoma Outcome.

Clin Cancer Res 2015 Nov 21;21(22):5164-72. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Department of Pathology and Diagnostic, Anatomic Pathology Section, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Purpose: There is evidence that Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) could display some molecular and morphologic markers of cellular senescence (CS). We hypothesized that CS mechanisms may have potential prognostic relevance in cHL and investigated whether the expression of the well-established CS biomarkers p21(CIP1/WAF1) and p16(INK4a) by HRS cells might be predictive of the probability of event-free survival (EFS).

Experimental Design: The study analyzed a retrospective cohort of 147 patients and the results were validated on a cohort of 91 patients independently diagnosed and treated in a different institution. p16(INK4a) and p21(CIP1/WAF1) were categorized as dichotomous variables (< or ≥ 30% of HRS cells at diagnosis) and evaluated in univariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: Both molecules were independent prognostic factors. A positive staining of one of the two molecules in more than 30% HRS cells predicted a better EFS (P < 0.01). p16(INK4a)/p21(CIP1/WAF1) together as a unique categorical variable (both <30%, either <30%, both ≥ 30%) sorted out three prognostic groups with better, intermediate, or worse outcome either overall or within I-II, bulky and advanced stages. The presence or the lack of the robust expression of p21(CIP1/WAF1) and/or p16(INK4a) defined the prognosis in our series.

Conclusions: These findings point to (i) the relevance of CS-related mechanisms in cHL, and to (ii) the prognostic value of a simple, reproducible, and low-cost immunohistochemical evaluation of p16(INK4a) and p21(CIP1/WAF1) expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-0508DOI Listing
November 2015

Multicentre survey to explore current survival of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia who failed induction chemotherapy.

Eur J Haematol 2016 Jun 17;96(6):586-92. Epub 2015 Aug 17.

Division of Hematology and SCT, University Hospital of Udine, Udine, Italy.

Background: Acute myeloid leukaemia not responsive to first induction chemotherapy (PIF-AML) still remains a challenge, and there are only few recent epidemiological data regarding the outcome of these patients. In this multicentre survey, we evaluate the prognosis and outcome of patients with PIF-AML, who were diagnosed and treated in the last 5 yrs in four Italian institutions.

Results: One hundred PIF-AML were recorded, 57 males and 43 females, with a median age of 63 yrs (19-79), 42% were younger than 60 yrs; 42% had a secondary AML and 40% had an adverse karyotype. According to cytogenetic/molecular risk stratification at diagnosis, 33% of patients were classified as favourable/intermediate-1 risk and 56% as intermediate-2/adverse risk. After a median follow-up of 11 months (1-49), 77% of patients died, while 23% were alive (with 12/23 in cCR). Thirty-six patients underwent allogeneic SCT, and of these, 11 of 36 (31%) were alive at last follow-up. The 12- and 24-month OS probability of the whole population was 45% and 21%, respectively. In multivariate analysis, the probability of OS of the whole population was significantly improved by Allo-SCT procedure (12-month OS probability 60% vs. 35%; P < 0.0001) and was better in patients with favourable/intermediate-1 risk at diagnosis (12-month OS probability 58% vs. 40%; P = 0.028). In transplanted cases, a pretransplant responsive disease was the only significant factor to predict a favourable outcome after Allo-SCT (P = 0.006).

Conclusion: Treatment options of PIF-AML still are limited and the prognosis, even recently, remains extremely poor. This survey shows that PIF-AML is still rarely cured without Allo-SCT and confirms the importance of initiating an urgent unrelated donor search in cases without a matched sibling donor. Moreover, the outcome of Allo-SCT is better in patients who achieve a good AML debulking before transplant. To reach this goal, new predictive scores and new protocols of salvage therapy (with target drugs or combinations) need to be explored urgently in PIF-AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.12635DOI Listing
June 2016

Epstein-Barr virus DNA load in chronic lymphocytic leukemia is an independent predictor of clinical course and survival.

Oncotarget 2015 Jul;6(21):18653-63

Department of Cell Therapy and Hematology, San Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.

The relation between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA load and clinical course of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is unknown. We assessed EBV DNA load by quantitative PCR at CLL presentation in mononuclear cells (MNC) of 220 prospective patients that were enrolled and followed-up in two major Institutions. In 20 patients EBV DNA load was also assessed on plasma samples. Forty-one age-matched healthy subjects were tested for EBV DNA load on MNC. Findings were validated in an independent retrospective cohort of 112 patients with CLL. EBV DNA load was detectable in 59%, and high (≥2000 copies/µg DNA) in 19% of patients, but it was negative in plasma samples. EBV DNA load was significantly higher in CLL patients than in healthy subjects (P < .0001). No relation was found between high EBV load and clinical stage or biological variables, except for 11q deletion (P = .004), CD38 expression (P = .003), and NOTCH1 mutations (P = .05). High EBV load led to a 3.14-fold increase in the hazard ratio of death and to a shorter overall survival (OS; P = .001). Poor OS was attributable, at least in part, to shorter time-to-first-treatment (P = .0008), with no higher risk of Richter's transformation or second cancer. Multivariate analysis selected high levels of EBV load as independent predictor of OS after controlling for confounding clinical and biological variables. EBV DNA load at presentation is an independent predictor of OS in patients with CLL.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4621917PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4418DOI Listing
July 2015

The association of rituximab and a thrombopoietin receptor agonist in high-risk refractory immune thrombocytopenic purpura.

Blood Transfus 2015 Oct 21;13(4):694-5. Epub 2015 Apr 21.

Department of Medicine, Haematology Section, University Hospital of Verona, Verona, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.2450/2015.0325-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4624556PMC
October 2015

Role of blood cells dynamism on hemostatic complications in low-risk patients with essential thrombocythemia.

Intern Emerg Med 2015 Jun 14;10(4):451-60. Epub 2015 Jan 14.

Department of Haematology, San Maurizio Regional Hospital, Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy,

Patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET) aged less than 60 years, who have not suffered a previous vascular event (low-risk patients), may develop thrombotic or hemorrhagic events. So far, it has not been possible to identify useful markers capable of predicting which of these patients are more likely to develop an event and therefore who needs to be treated. In the present study, we analysed the relationship between vascular complications and longitudinal blood counts of 136 low-risk ET patients taken over a sustained period of time (blood cells dynamism). After a median follow-up of 60 months, 45 out of 136 patients (33%) suffered 40 major thrombotic and 5 severe hemorrhagic complications. A total number of 5,781 blood counts were collected longitudinally. Thrombotic and hemorrhagic events were studied together (primary endpoint) but also separately (thrombotic alone = secondary endpoint; hemorrhagic alone = tertiary endpoint). The primary endpoint showed no significant association between platelet and WBC count at diagnosis and risk of any event (platelet, p = 0.797; WBC, p = 0.178), while Hb at baseline did show an association (p = 0.024). In the dynamic analysis with Cox regression model, where the blood count values were studied by time of follow-up, we observed that the risk for Hb was 1.49 (95% CI 1.13-1.97) for every increase of 1 g/dL, and that this risk then marginally decreased during follow-up. WBC was associated with an increased risk at baseline for every increase of 1 × 10(9)/L (hazard ratio (HR) 1.07, 95% CI 1.01-1.13, p = 0.034), the risk was stable during follow-up (HR 0.95, p = 0.187 at 60 months). Also, for each increment at baseline of 100 × 10(9) platelets/L, HR was increased by 1.08 (95% CI 0.97-1.22, p = 0.159) and decreases during follow-up. In conclusion, this study is the first to evaluate in ET low-risk patients, the risk of developing a thrombotic/hemorrhagic event considering blood counts over time. Overall our study shows that the risk changes over time. For example, the risk associated with WCC is not linear as previously reported. An interesting new finding is that PLT and even Hb contribute to the risk of developing vascular events. Future treatments should take into consideration these findings and aim to control all parameters over time. We believe this early study may help develop a dynamic analysis model to predict thrombosis in the single patient. Further studies are now warranted to further validate our findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11739-015-1186-8DOI Listing
June 2015

The impact of sensitive KIT D816V detection on recognition of indolent Systemic Mastocytosis.

Leuk Res 2015 Mar 6;39(3):273-8. Epub 2014 Dec 6.

Department of Haematology/Oncology, L. and A. Seragnoli, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Patients with Systemic Mastocytosis (SM) need a highly sensitive diagnostic test for D816V detection of the KIT receptor gene. Along with histology/cytology and flow cytometry evaluation, bone marrow (BM) from 110 consecutive adult patients referred with a suspicion of SM to Multidisciplinary Outpatient Clinic for Mastocytosis in Verona were tested both by Amplification Refractory Mutation System Reverse Transcriptase quantitative real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (ARMS-RT-qPCR) and RT-PCR+Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) followed by Denaturing-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (D-HPLC) and Sanger sequencing. ARMS-RT-qPCR identified D816V mutation in 77 patients, corresponding to 100% of cases showing CD25(+) mast cells (MCs) whereas RT-PCR+RFLP/D-HPLC+sequencing revealed D816V mutations in 47 patients. According to the 2008 WHO criteria 75 SM, 1 Cutaneous Mastocytosis (CM), 1 monoclonal MC activation syndrome (MMAS), and 1 SM Associated with Haematologic Non-Mast Cell Disorder (SM-AHNMD) were diagnosed. Seventeen out 75 SM patients (23%) would have not satisfied sufficient WHO criteria on the basis of the sole RT-PCR+RFLP: these patients had significantly lower serum tryptase levels and amount of CD25(+) MCs. Therefore, ARMS-RT-qPCR might result particularly useful, in patients that do not fulfil major BM histological criterion, for the recognition of indolent SM with a very low MC burden.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2014.11.029DOI Listing
March 2015

Immunophenotypic analysis of hematopoiesis in patients suffering from Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond Syndrome.

Eur J Haematol 2015 Oct 10;95(4):308-15. Epub 2015 Feb 10.

Pediatric Hematology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Objectives: Shwachman-Diamond syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, skeletal abnormalities, and bone marrow failure, with high risk of leukemic evolution. The aim of the study was the immunophenotypic characterization of bone marrow cells from patients with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome to assess the maturation pathway of blood progenitor cells and to identify the presence of recurrent abnormalities.

Methods: Bone marrow samples from nineteen patients and eleven controls were analyzed by multiparameter flow cytometry.

Results: We found a low frequency of CD34+ cells (P = 0.0179) and myeloid progenitors (P = 0.025), in the bone marrow of patients with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome as compared to the controls. A significant reduction in the percentage of granulocytes (P = 0.002) and an increase of monocytes (P < 0.001) were also evident in the bone marrow of patients.

Conclusions: On the basis of these observations, future prospective assessments may be useful to verify the contribution of bone marrow immunophenotype in the early identification of the evolution toward aplasia or myelodysplasia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.12490DOI Listing
October 2015

Clinical significance of LAIR1 (CD305) as assessed by flow cytometry in a prospective series of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Haematologica 2014 May 10;99(5):881-7. Epub 2014 Jan 10.

Most patients affected by chronic lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed by flow cytometry. Several immunophenotypic markers have been identified as significant and independent prognostic variables, especially from retrospective cohorts. However, while attractive because their detection is inexpensive and feasible in most laboratories, only few have been validated by independent series. The expression of leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor-1 (also known as LAIR1, LAIR-1 or CD305), an inhibitor of B-cell receptor-mediated signaling, has been reported to be lacking in high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia. However, its correlation with biological variables and its prognostic significance remain unknown. We investigated 311 consecutive patients, prospectively enrolled since 2007. Methods for studying patients were standardized and included clinical assessment, immunophenotype, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and status of immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes. Overall, 22.1% of patients had Binet stage B or C disease, 38.5% had unmutated immunoglobulin genes, 15.1% had high-risk cytogenetic abnormalities, 23.4% were CD38(+), 37.8% CD49d(+), and 59.8% LAIR1(+). Expression of LAIR1 was inversely related to that of CD38 (P=0.0005), but was not associated with CD49d expression (P=0.96). A significantly lower expression of LAIR1 was observed in patients with Binet stage B or C disease (P=0.023), and in the presence of high-risk cytogenetic abnormalities (P=0.048) or unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes (P<0.0001). At univariate analysis LAIR1(+) was significantly associated with longer time to first treatment (P=0.0002). This favorable effect of LAIR1(+) was confirmed by multivariate analysis (hazard ratio=2.1, P=0.03 for LAIR1). Our results indicate that LAIR1 expression is a reliable and inexpensive marker capable of independently predicting time to first treatment in newly diagnosed unselected patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2013.096362DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4008102PMC
May 2014

Anti-Müllerian hormone and antral follicle count reveal a late impairment of ovarian reserve in patients undergoing low-gonadotoxic regimens for hematological malignancies.

Oncologist 2013 22;18(12):1307-14. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Department of Life and Reproduction Sciences, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology and.

The impact of cancer therapy on the reproductive potential of patients is increasingly recognized because survival rates of patients have clearly improved in recent years. Different fertility preservation methods, either generally accepted or still experimental, are currently available, and counseling of patients requires a delicate balance between the efficacy and side effects of the proposed method and the characteristics of both the tumor and the therapy. Deeper knowledge of the effects of cancer therapy on the reproductive potential of patients over time is required to identify the most appropriate fertility preservation method. In this paper, we report a case-control study in which female patients who were diagnosed with hematological malignancies and treated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy were compared with age-matched controls in terms of ovarian reserve, as measured by ultrasound examination and hormonal status. By stratifying patients for gonadotoxicity of the therapy received and time elapsed from the end of the therapy, we report that patients treated with low gonadotoxic therapies, while being similar to age-matched controls in their ovarian reserve when evaluated within a few years from the end of the therapy, show a clear impairment over longer times. We also report that anti-Müllerian hormone is the most sensitive hormonal parameter in detecting changes in ovarian reserve when compared with follicle-stimulating hormone or inhibin-B. This study stresses the importance of accurate counseling at the time of diagnosis of cancer and emphasizes the risks of infertility with low gonadotoxic therapies that may reduce the reproductive window of survivors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2013-0138DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3868425PMC
August 2014

EUTOS score predicts long-term outcome but not optimal response to imatinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Leuk Res 2013 Nov 11;37(11):1457-60. Epub 2013 Aug 11.

Division of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, Azienda Ospedaliero - Universitaria di Udine, Italy. Electronic address:

To test the recently developed EUTOS score in predicting optimal response to imatinib and the long-term outcome, 265 patients with early chronic phase chronic myeloid leukaemia treated with standard dose imatinib were analysed. Achievement of optimal response endpoints were higher in low-risk patients, though the difference was not statistically significant: PCyR at 6th month 86% vs 67% (p=0.06), CCyR at 12th month 80% vs 63% (p=0.09), MMR at 18th month 61% vs 36% (p=0.11). However, EUTOS score was predictive for the long-term response. With a median follow-up of 61 months, 53% high-risk patients experienced imatinib failure, compared to 23% in the low-risk group (p=0.013). Among high-risk patients, 4/17 (23%) progressed to accelerated/blastic phase or died, compared to 11/248 (5%) low-risk patients, with 5-year progression-free survival rates of 84±10% and 96±1%, respectively (p=0.04). Our data confirm that EUTOS score envisions the long-term outcome of imatinib therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2013.07.037DOI Listing
November 2013

Bendamustine in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: outcome according to different clinical and biological prognostic factors in the everyday clinical practice.

Am J Hematol 2013 Nov 9;88(11):955-60. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Clinica Ematologica, DISM, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria S. M. Misericordia, Udine, Italy.

Bendamustine proved to be effective for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, the relationship between its activity with clinico-biological prognosticators has been addressed only in few studies. We retrospectively evaluated the efficacy of bendamustine, in a real-life contest, on 142 patients, median age 70 years, median number of previous regimens 2 (0-8, 13% previously untreated). Bendamustine was administered for a median number of 4 cycles, in 84% of cases with rituximab. Overall (ORR) and complete response (CRR) rates were 68 and 16.5%, respectively. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a relationship between ORR and number of prior treatments (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.08-0.71; P = 0.009), del(17p) (OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.03-0.32; P < 0.001) and concomitant rituximab (OR 4.37, 95% CI 1.12-17.04; P = 0.033). The estimated 1- and 2-years overall survival (OS) and progression free survival (PFS) rates were 76, 61, 51, and 26%, respectively. Previous sensitivity to fludarabine (HR 0.36, 95% CI 0.16-0.82), response to bendamustine (HR 0.21, 95% CI 0.10-0.45), and del(17p) (HR 2.18, 95% CI 1.002-4.74) had a prognostic significance in multivariate analysis for PFS, while the number of previous therapies (HR 3.48, 95% CI 1.29-9.38; P = 0.014), concomitant use of rituximab (HR 0.32, 95% CI 0.11-0.93) and response to bendamustine (HR 0.22, 95% CI 0.07-0.66) were significant for OS. Side effects included grade 3-4 neutropenia, infections, thrombocytopenia and anemia which occurred in 40, 14, 14, and 10% of patients, respectively. These results confirm the activity and safety of bendamustine and rituximab combination even in patients with unfavorable clinical and biological features excluding del(17p).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.23546DOI Listing
November 2013

Clinico-biological features of 5202 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia enrolled in the Italian AIEOP and GIMEMA protocols and stratified in age cohorts.

Haematologica 2013 Nov 28;98(11):1702-10. Epub 2013 May 28.

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The outcome of children and adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is markedly different. Since there is limited information on the distribution of clinico-biological variables in different age cohorts, we analyzed 5202 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia enrolled in the Italian multicenter AIEOP and GIMEMA protocols and stratified them in nine age cohorts. The highest prevalence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was observed in children, although a second peak was recorded from the 4(th) decade onwards. Interestingly, the lowest incidence was found in females between 14-40 years. Immunophenotypic characterization showed a B-lineage in 85.8% of patients: a pro-B stage, associated with MLL/AF4 positivity, was more frequent in patients between 10-50 years. T-lineage leukemia (14.2%) was rare among small children and increased in patients aged 10-40 years. The prevalence of the BCR/ABL1 rearrangement increased progressively with age starting from the cohort of patients 10-14 years old and was present in 52.7% of cases in the 6th decade. Similarly, the MLL/AF4 rearrangement constantly increased up to the 5(th) decade, while the ETV6/RUNX1 rearrangement disappeared from the age of 30 onwards. This study shows that acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adolescents and young adults is characterized by a male prevalence, higher percentage of T-lineage cases, an increase of poor prognostic molecular markers with aging compared to cases in children, and conclusively quantified the progressive increase of BCR/ABL(+) cases with age, which are potentially manageable by targeted therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2012.080432DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3815170PMC
November 2013

Old and new prognostic factors in acute myeloid leukemia with deranged core-binding factor beta.

Am J Hematol 2013 Jul 5;88(7):594-600. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

Division of Haematology, Niguarda Hospital, Milan, Italy; Division of Haematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Valduce Hospital, Como, Italy.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with deranged core-binding factor beta (CBFβ) is usually associated with a favorable prognosis with 50-70% of patients cured using contemporary treatments. We analyzed the prognostic significance of clinical features on 58 patients with CBFβ-AML aged ≤60 years. Increasing age was the only predictor for survival (P <0.001), with an optimal cut-point at 43 years. White blood cells (WBCs) at diagnosis emerged as an independent risk factor for relapse incidence (P = 0.017), with 1.1% increase of hazard for each 1.0 × 10(9) /L WBC increment. KIT mutations lacked prognostic value for survival and showed only a trend for relapse incidence (P = 0.069).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.23461DOI Listing
July 2013

The TNF-family cytokine TL1A inhibits proliferation of human activated B cells.

PLoS One 2013 2;8(4):e60136. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Death receptor (DR3) 3 is a member of the TNFR superfamily. Its ligand is TNF-like ligand 1A (TL1A), a member of the TNF superfamily. TL1A/DR3 interactions have been reported to modulate the functions of T cells, NK, and NKT cells and play a crucial role in driving inflammatory processes in several T-cell-dependent autoimmune diseases. However, TL1A expression and effects on B cells remain largely unknown. In this study, we described for the first time that B cells from human blood express significant amounts of DR3 in response to B cell receptor polyclonal stimulation. The relevance of these results has been confirmed by immunofluorescence analysis in tonsil and spleen tissue specimens, which showed the in situ expression of DR3 in antigen-stimulated B cells in vivo. Remarkably, we demonstrated that TL1A reduces B-cell proliferation induced by anti-IgM-antibodies and IL-2 but did not affect B-cell survival, suggesting that TL1A inhibits the signal(s) important for B-cell proliferation. These results revealed a novel function of TL1A in modulating B-cell proliferation in vitro and suggest that TL1A may contribute to homeostasis of effector B-cell functions in immune response and host defense, thus supporting the role of the TL1A/DR3 functional axis in modulating the adaptive immune response.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0060136PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614993PMC
October 2013

Double productive immunoglobulin sequence rearrangements in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Am J Hematol 2013 Apr 28;88(4):277-82. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Department of Hematology S. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.

The immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (IGHV) gene mutational status represents a major prognostic marker in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Usually, the prognostic implications of IGHV gene analysis can be reliably ascertained but, occasionally, double productive rearrangements have been detected. Clinical presentation and biological features of such cases are unknown. Sixty patients with morphologically and phenotypically monoclonal CLL but double productive IGHV rearrangements were retrospectively identified by mRNA analysis from three Hematology Institutions. Clinical and biological features and survival of these 60 patients were compared with a control group of patients with CLL and single IGHV rearrangement. A prospective registry was used to assess the epidemiology of double productive IGHV among incidental patients with CLL. Using standard criteria to define IGHV-mutated (M) or unmutated (U) cases, 39 of the 60 patients (65%) with double productive IGHV rearrangement had concordant status (23 MM, 16 UU), while 21 (35%) had discordant IGHV status. As compared with M patients, the MM ones had lower CD38 expression, more favorable cytogenetics and more indolent clinical behavior. Cases with UU had similar characteristics of U patients. Discordant cases presented with adverse prognostic features and had an aggressive clinical behavior requiring early treatment, similar to U patients. The prevalence of double IGHV was 3.1%. Patients with CLL with double concordant mutational status (MM or UU) have a clinical course similar to that of the corresponding single IGHV status, while those exhibiting discordant status represent a high risk population. This may help correct stratification within clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.23396DOI Listing
April 2013

On the cytokines produced by human neutrophils in tumors.

Semin Cancer Biol 2013 Jun 11;23(3):159-70. Epub 2013 Feb 11.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology, School of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Although traditionally viewed as short-lived innate immunity cells, only playing a crucial role in host defense toward infections, neutrophils have recently become subject of a new wave of research in diverse areas including in tumors. Indeed, increasing experimental evidence indicate that neutrophils may directly or indirectly influence the tumor fate through the release of a wide array of molecules able to exert either pro-tumor or anti-tumor functions depending on the microenvironment milieu, including cytokines. This review therefore attempts to uncover the role that neutrophils play during the different steps of tumor development (from promotion to progression), as well as in anti-tumor responses, via cytokine production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcancer.2013.02.004DOI Listing
June 2013