Publications by authors named "Marta Todeschini"

30 Publications

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Amnion epithelial cells are an effective source of factor H and prevent kidney complement deposition in factor H-deficient mice.

Stem Cell Res Ther 2021 06 10;12(1):332. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Via GB Camozzi 3, 24020, Ranica, Bergamo, Italy.

Complement factor H (FH) is the main plasma regulator of the alternative pathway of complement. Genetic and acquired abnormalities in FH cause uncontrolled complement activation amplifying, with the consequent accumulation of complement components on the renal glomeruli. This leads to conditions such as C3 glomerulopathy (C3G) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). There is no effective therapy for these diseases. Half of the patients progress to end-stage renal disease and the condition recurs frequently in transplanted kidneys. Combined liver/kidney transplantation is a valid option for these patients, but the risks of the procedure and donor organ shortages hamper its clinical application. Therefore, there is an urgent need for alternative strategies for providing a normal FH supply. Human amnion epithelial cells (hAEC) have stem cell characteristics, including the capability to differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells in vivo.Here, we administered hAEC into the livers of newborn Cfh mice, which spontaneously developed glomerular complement deposition and renal lesions resembling human C3G. hAEC engrafted at low levels in the livers of Cfh mice and produced sufficient human FH to prevent complement activation and glomerular C3 and C9 deposition. However, long-term engraftment was not achieved, and eventually hAEC elicited a humoral immune response in immunocompetent Cfh mice.hAEC cell therapy could be a valuable therapeutic option for patients undergoing kidney transplantation in whom post-transplant immunosuppression may protect allogeneic hAEC from rejection, while allogeneic cells provide normal FH to prevent disease recurrence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13287-021-02386-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8194190PMC
June 2021

Third-party bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cell infusion before liver transplantation: A randomized controlled trial.

Am J Transplant 2020 Dec 28. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

Aldo & Cele Daccò Clinical Research Center for Rare Diseases, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy.

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have emerged as a promising therapy to minimize the immunosuppressive regimen or induce tolerance in solid organ transplantation. In this randomized open-label phase Ib/IIa clinical trial, 20 liver transplant patients were randomly allocated (1:1) to receive a single pretransplant intravenous infusion of third-party bone marrow-derived MSC or standard of care alone. The primary endpoint was the safety profile of MSC administration during the 1-year follow-up. In all, 19 patients completed the study, and none of those who received MSC experienced infusion-related complications. The incidence of serious and non-serious adverse events was similar in the two groups. Circulating Treg/memory Treg and tolerant NK subset of CD56 NK cells increased slightly over baseline, albeit not to a statistically significant extent, in MSC-treated patients but not in the control group. Graft function and survival, as well as histologic parameters and intragraft expression of tolerance-associated transcripts in 1-year protocol biopsies were similar in the two groups. In conclusion, pretransplant MSC infusion in liver transplant recipients was safe and induced mild positive changes in immunoregulatory T and NK cells in the peripheral blood. This study opens the way for a trial on possible tolerogenic efficacy of MSC in liver transplantation. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02260375.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ajt.16468DOI Listing
December 2020

Molecular Studies and an Complement Assay on Endothelium Highlight the Genetic Complexity of Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: The Case of a Pedigree With a Null CD46 Variant.

Front Med (Lausanne) 2020 3;7:579418. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Clinical Research Center for Rare Diseases 'Aldo e Cele Daccò,' Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy.

Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) is an ultra-rare disease characterized by microangiopathic hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, and renal impairment and is associated with dysregulation of the alternative complement pathway on the microvascular endothelium. Outcomes have improved greatly with pharmacologic complement C5 blockade. Abnormalities in complement genes (, and ), genomic rearrangements, and anti-FH antibodies have been reported in 40-60% of cases. The penetrance of aHUS is incomplete in carriers of complement gene abnormalities; and multiple hits, including the and risk haplotypes and the risk allele, as well as environmental factors, contribute to disease development. Here, we investigated the determinants of penetrance of aHUS associated with genetic abnormalities. We studied 485 aHUS patients and found rare variants (RVs) in about 10%. The c.286+2T>G RV was the most prevalent (13/485) and was associated with <30% penetrance. We conducted an in-depth study of a large pedigree including a proband who is heterozygous for the c.286+2T>G RV who experienced a severe form of aHUS and developed end-stage renal failure. The father and paternal uncle with the same variant in homozygosity and six heterozygous relatives are unaffected. Flow cytometry analysis showed about 50% reduction of CD46 expression on blood mononuclear cells from the heterozygous proband and over 90% reduction in cells from the proband's unaffected homozygous father and aunt. Further genetic studies did not reveal RVs in known aHUS-associated genes or common genetic modifiers that segregated with the disease. Importantly, a specific test showed excessive complement deposition on endothelial cells exposed to sera from the proband, and also from his mother and maternal uncle, who do not carry the c.286+2T>G RV, indicating that they share a circulating defect that results in complement dysregulation on the endothelium. These results highlight the complexity of the genetics of aHUS and indicate that deficiency may not be enough to induce aHUS. We hypothesize that the proband inherited from his mother a genetic abnormality in a complement circulating factor that has not been identified yet, which synergized with the RV in predisposing him to the aHUS phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2020.579418DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670076PMC
November 2020

Transplantation-Induced Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury Modulates Antigen Presentation by Donor Renal CD11cF4/80 Macrophages through IL-1R8 Regulation.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2020 03 27;31(3):517-531. Epub 2020 Jan 27.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS), Bergamo, Italy; and

Background: In donor kidneys subjected to ischemia-reperfusion injury during kidney transplant, phagocytes coexpressing the F4/80 and CD11c molecules mediate proinflammatory responses and trigger adaptive immunity in transplantation through antigen presentation. After injury, however, resident renal macrophages coexpressing these surface markers acquire a proreparative phenotype, which is pivotal in controlling inflammation and fibrosis. No data are currently available regarding the effects of transplant-induced ischemia-reperfusion injury on the ability of donor-derived resident renal macrophages to act as professional antigen-presenting cells.

Methods: We evaluated the phenotype and function of intragraft CD11cF4/80 renal macrophages after cold ischemia. We also assessed the modifications of donor renal macrophages after reversible ischemia-reperfusion injury in a mouse model of congeneic renal transplantation. To investigate the role played by IL-1R8, we conducted and studies comparing cells and grafts from wild-type and IL-R8-deficient donors.

Results: Cold ischemia and reversible ischemia-reperfusion injury dampened antigen presentation by renal macrophages, skewed their polarization toward the M phenotype, and increased surface expression of IL-1R8, diminishing activation mediated by toll-like receptor 4. Ischemic IL-1R8-deficient donor renal macrophages acquired an M phenotype, effectively induced IFN and IL-17 responses, and failed to orchestrate tissue repair, resulting in severe graft fibrosis and aberrant humoral immune responses.

Conclusions: IL-1R8 is a key regulator of donor renal macrophage functions after ischemia-reperfusion injury, crucial to guiding the phenotype and antigen-presenting role of these cells. It may therefore represent an intriguing pathway to explore with respect to modulating responses against autoantigens and alloantigens after kidney transplant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2019080778DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7062225PMC
March 2020

Kidney transplant tolerance associated with remote autologous mesenchymal stromal cell administration.

Stem Cells Transl Med 2020 04 24;9(4):427-432. Epub 2019 Dec 24.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy.

Here we report the case of successful immune tolerance induction in a living-donor kidney transplant recipient remotely treated with autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC). This case report, which to the best of our knowledge is the first in the world in this setting, provides evidence that the modulation of the host immune system with MSC can enable the safe withdrawal of maintenance immunosuppressive drugs while preserving optimal long-term kidney allograft function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sctm.19-0185DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7103624PMC
April 2020

Alteration of thyroid hormone signaling triggers the diabetes-induced pathological growth, remodeling, and dedifferentiation of podocytes.

JCI Insight 2019 09 19;4(18). Epub 2019 Sep 19.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso, Bergamo, Italy.

Thyroid hormone (TH) signaling is a universal regulator of metabolism, growth, and development. Here, we show that TH-TH receptor (TH-TR) axis alterations are critically involved in diabetic nephropathy-associated (DN-associated) podocyte pathology, and we identify TRα1 as a key regulator of the pathogenesis of DN. In ZSF1 diabetic rats, T3 levels progressively decreased during DN, and this was inversely correlated with metabolic and renal disease worsening. These phenomena were associated with the reexpression of the fetal isoform TRα1 in podocytes and parietal cells of both rats and patients with DN and with the increased glomerular expression of the TH-inactivating enzyme deiodinase 3 (DIO3). In diabetic rats, TRα1-positive cells also reexpressed several fetal mesenchymal and damage-related podocyte markers, while glomerular and podocyte hypertrophy was evident. In vitro, exposing human podocytes to diabetes milieu typical components markedly increased TRα1 and DIO3 expression and induced cytoskeleton rearrangements, adult podocyte marker downregulation and fetal kidney marker upregulation, the maladaptive cell cycle induction/arrest, and TRα1-ERK1/2-mediated hypertrophy. Strikingly, T3 treatment reduced TRα1 and DIO3 expression and completely reversed all these alterations. Our data show that diabetic stress induces the TH-TRα1 axis to adopt a fetal ligand/receptor relationship pattern that triggers the recapitulation of the fetal podocyte phenotype and subsequent pathological alterations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.130249DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795387PMC
September 2019

Vein Suturing Results in Worse Lung Graft Outcomes Compared to the Cuff Method.

Eur Surg Res 2019 3;60(3-4):106-116. Epub 2019 Sep 3.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy,

Background: The rat orthotopic lung transplant model is not widely used yet because of the complexity of the procedure, in particular, venous anastomosis. Here, we performed a rat orthotopic lung transplantation using either the suture (ST) or cuff (CT) method for vein anastomosis.

Objectives: To compare the vein ST and CT techniques in terms of operative time, success, recipient survival, and early histological outcomes was the objective of this study.

Methods: A total of 24 left lung transplants in rats were performed. Twelve syngeneic (Lewis to Lewis) and 12 allogeneic (Brown-Norway to Lewis) lung transplants were performed using either the vein ST or the CT procedure. Arterial and bronchial anastomoses were performed with the CT technique. Graft histological damage was evaluated 3-7 days post-transplant in all rat lungs.

Results: The surgical success rate was 75% in both the ST and CT groups. Failures related mainly to vein bleeding (n = 2 in the ST group) and thrombosis (n = 1 in the ST group; n = 2 in the CT group). Total ischemia time was longer in the ST group (122 ± 25 min in ST group vs. 83 ± 10 min in CT group, mean ± SD), due to prolonged warm ischemia time (60 ± 12 min in the ST group vs. 21 ± 5 min in the CT group, mean ± SD), reflecting the time required to complete the vein ST procedure. The prolonged warm ischemia time resulted in significantly higher vascular inflammation in syngeneic grafts (2.3 ± 1.2 ST group vs. 0 in the CT group, mean ± SD) and in increased severity of ischemia/reperfusion injury and acute graft rejection (3.6 ± 0.4 in the ST group vs. 2.6 ± 0.4 in the CT group, mean ± SD) in allogeneic lung transplants.

Conclusions: The vein ST technique is a more time-consuming procedure than the CT method and the prolonged anastomosis time has a deleterious impact on transplant outcomes. These findings suggest that warm ischemia time - one of the modifiable transplant factors - should be considered a major risk factor in lung transplantation, particularly in the setting of donation after cardiac death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000501805DOI Listing
March 2020

CRISPR-Cas9-Mediated Correction of the G189R-PAX2 Mutation in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from a Patient with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.

CRISPR J 2019 04;2:108-120

1 Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso, Bergamo, Italy; University of Milan, Milan, Italy.

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is defined by focal (involving few glomeruli) and segmental sclerosis of the glomerular tuft that manifests with nephrotic syndrome. Mutations in genes involved in the maintenance of structure and function of podocytes have been found in a minority of these patients. A family with adult-onset autosomal dominant FSGS was recently found to carry a new germline missense heterozygous mutation (p.G189R) in the octapeptide domain of the transcription factor PAX2. Here, we efficiently corrected this point mutation in patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by means of CRISPR-Cas9-based homology-directed repair. The iPSC lines were differentiated into podocytes, which were tested for their motility. Editing the PAX2 p.G189R mutation restored podocyte motility, which was altered in podocytes derived from patient iPSCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/crispr.2018.0048DOI Listing
April 2019

Effect of Timing and Complement Receptor Antagonism on Intragraft Recruitment and Protolerogenic Effects of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Murine Kidney Transplantation.

Transplantation 2019 06;103(6):1121-1130

IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Bergamo, Italy.

Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have protolerogenic effects in renal transplantation, but they induce long-term regulatory T cells (Treg)-dependent graft acceptance only when infused before transplantation. When given posttransplant, MSCs home to the graft where they promote engraftment syndrome and do not induce Treg. Unfortunately, pretransplant MSC administration is unfeasible in deceased-donor kidney transplantation.

Methods: To make MSCs a therapeutic option also for deceased organ recipients, we tested whether MSC infusion at the time of transplant (day 0) or posttransplant (day 2) together with inhibition of complement receptors prevents engraftment syndrome and allows their homing to secondary lymphoid organs for promoting tolerance. We analyzed intragraft and splenic MSC localization, graft survival, and alloimmune response in mice recipients of kidney allografts and syngeneic MSCs given on day 0 or on posttransplant day 2. C3a receptor (C3aR) or C5a receptor (C5aR) antagonists were administered to mice in combination with the cells or were used together to treat MSCs before infusion.

Results: Syngeneic MSCs given at day 0 homed to the spleen increased Treg numbers and induced long-term graft acceptance. Posttransplant MSC infusion, combined with a short course of C3aR or C5aR antagonist or administration of MSCs pretreated with C3aR and C5aR antagonists, prevented intragraft recruitment of MSCs and graft inflammation, inhibited antidonor T-cell reactivity, but failed to induce Treg, resulting in mild prolongation of graft survival.

Conclusions: These data support testing the safety/efficacy profile of administering MSCs on the day of transplant in deceased-donor transplant recipients and indicate that complement is crucial for MSC recruitment into the kidney allograft.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/TP.0000000000002611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6934941PMC
June 2019

Long-Term Clinical and Immunological Profile of Kidney Transplant Patients Given Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Immunotherapy.

Front Immunol 2018 14;9:1359. Epub 2018 Jun 14.

IRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Bergamo, Italy.

We report here the long-term clinical and immunological results of four living-donor kidney transplant patients given autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) as part of a phase 1 study focused on the safety and feasibility of this cell therapy. According to study protocols implemented over time, based on initial early safety findings, the patients were given MSC at day 7 posttransplant ( = 2) or at day -1 pretransplant ( = 2) and received induction therapy with basiliximab and low-dose rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (RATG) or RATG alone, and were maintained on low-dose ciclosporin (CsA)/mycophenolate mofetil (MMF). All MSC-treated patients had stable graft function during the 5- to 7-year follow-up, without increased susceptibility to infections or neoplasm. In three MSC recipients, but not historical control patients, circulating memory CD8 T cell percentages remained lower than basal, coupled with persistent reduction of donor-specific cytotoxicity. Two patients showed a long-lasting increase in the regulatory T cell/memory CD8 T cell ratio, paralleled by high circulating levels of naïve and transitional B cells. In one of these two patients, CsA was successfully discontinued, and currently the low-dose MMF monotherapy is on the tapering phase. The study shows that MSC therapy is safe in the long term and could promote a pro-tolerogenic environment in selected patients. Extensive immunomonitoring of MSC-treated kidney transplant recipients could help selection of patients for safe withdrawal of maintenance immunosuppressive drugs (NCT00752479 and NCT02012153).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01359DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6014158PMC
June 2018

Extracellular vesicles derived from T regulatory cells suppress T cell proliferation and prolong allograft survival.

Sci Rep 2017 09 14;7(1):11518. Epub 2017 Sep 14.

IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Centro Ricerche Trapianti Chiara Cucchi de Alessandri e Gilberto Crespi Ranica, Bergamo, Italy.

We have previously shown that rat allogeneic DC, made immature by adenoviral gene transfer of the dominant negative form of IKK2, gave rise in-vitro to a unique population of CD4CD25 regulatory T cells (dnIKK2-Treg). These cells inhibited Tcell response in-vitro, without needing cell-to-cell contact, and induced kidney allograft survival prolongation in-vivo. Deep insight into the mechanisms behind dnIKK2-Treg-induced suppression of Tcell proliferation remained elusive. Here we document that dnIKK2-Treg release extracellular vesicles (EV) riched in exosomes, fully accounting for the cell-contact independent immunosuppressive activity of parent cells. DnIKK2-Treg-EV contain a unique molecular cargo of specific miRNAs and iNOS, which, once delivered into target cells, blocked cell cycle progression and induced apoptosis. DnIKK2-Treg-EV-exposed T cells were in turn converted into regulatory cells. Notably, when administered in-vivo, dnIKK2-Treg-EV prolonged kidney allograft survival. DnIKK2-Treg-derived EV could be a tool for manipulating the immune system and for discovering novel potential immunosuppressive molecules in the context of allotransplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-08617-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599553PMC
September 2017

Direct reprogramming of human bone marrow stromal cells into functional renal cells using cell-free extracts.

Stem Cell Reports 2015 Apr 5;4(4):685-98. Epub 2015 Mar 5.

IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," Centro Anna Maria Astori, Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso, 24126 Bergamo, Italy.

The application of cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine is gaining recognition. Here, we show that human bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), also known as bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal cells, can be reprogrammed into renal proximal tubular-like epithelial cells using cell-free extracts. Streptolysin-O-permeabilized BMSCs exposed to HK2-cell extracts underwent morphological changes-formation of "domes" and tubule-like structures-and acquired epithelial functional properties such as transepithelial-resistance, albumin-binding, and uptake and specific markers E-cadherin and aquaporin-1. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of brush border microvilli and tight intercellular contacts. RNA sequencing showed tubular epithelial transcript abundance and revealed the upregulation of components of the EGFR pathway. Reprogrammed BMSCs integrated into self-forming kidney tissue and formed tubular structures. Reprogrammed BMSCs infused in immunodeficient mice with cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury engrafted into proximal tubuli, reduced renal injury and improved function. Thus, reprogrammed BMSCs are a promising cell resource for future cell therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.02.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400646PMC
April 2015

Assessment of anti-donor T cell proliferation and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-mediated lympholysis in living donor kidney transplant patients.

Methods Mol Biol 2014 ;1213:355-64

Department of Translational and Regenerative Medicine, Research Block B, 5th Floor, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Sector-12, Chandigarh, 160012, India,

Organ transplant recipients are at risk of allograft rejection, and remain dependent on lifelong immunosuppressive agents, with the attendant risks of infections, cancers, and drug toxicities. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have emerged as an alternative to the current pharmacologic immunosuppressive therapy as these cells are immune privileged and possess immunomodulatory properties. However, clinical data are incomplete regarding the efficacy of MSC therapy to control alloimmune response of the transplant recipients. Coordinated efforts should now be directed towards assays for monitoring anti-donor T cell response of MSC-treated patients to establish the pro-tolerogenic potential of MSC-based therapy. Here, we describe two useful tools to monitor MSC-mediated immunomodulation: the assessment of T cell proliferation by carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) dilution assay and the evaluation of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated lysis of (51)Cr-labeled target cells (cell-mediated lympholysis; CML) following mixed lymphocyte cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from kidney donors and transplant recipients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-1453-1_29DOI Listing
May 2015

In kidney transplant patients, alemtuzumab but not basiliximab/low-dose rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin induces B cell depletion and regeneration, which associates with a high incidence of de novo donor-specific anti-HLA antibody development.

J Immunol 2013 Sep 2;191(5):2818-28. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Centro Ricerche Trapianti "Chiara Cucchi de Alessandri e Gilberto Crespi" Istituto Di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," Bergamo 24020, Italy.

In this single-center matched-cohort study, we evaluated the phenotype of repopulating B cells and its correlation with donor-specific anti-HLA Ab development and long-term graft function in 16 renal transplant recipients and 32 age- and gender-matched controls induced with alemtuzumab or basiliximab (Bas)/low-dose rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (rATG), respectively. Alemtuzumab, but not Bas/rATG, profoundly depleted peripheral B cells in the first 2 mo posttransplantation. Early posttransplant, naive B cells were significantly depleted, whereas Ag-experienced and memory B cells were partially spared. Transitional B cells transiently increased 2 mo posttransplant. At month 6 posttransplant, pregerminal center B cells emerged, a process promoted by increased BAFF serum levels. Thereafter, B cell counts increased progressively, mainly due to expansion of naive B cells. Conversely, Bas/rATG did not modify the B cell phenotype throughout the follow-up period. Alemtuzumab was associated with a higher incidence of de novo DSA compared with Bas/rATG. DSA development was predicted by changes in the B cell compartment and correlated with worse long-term graft function. Thus, alemtuzumab-induced B cell depletion/reconstitution may promote chronic humoral responses against the graft.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1203261DOI Listing
September 2013

Mesenchymal stromal cells and kidney transplantation: pretransplant infusion protects from graft dysfunction while fostering immunoregulation.

Transpl Int 2013 Sep 6;26(9):867-78. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

Department of Immunology and Transplantation, Azienda Ospedaliera - IRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Bergamo, Italy.

Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have emerged as useful cell population for immunomodulation therapy in transplantation. Moving this concept towards clinical application, however, should be critically assessed by a tailor-made step-wise approach. Here, we report results of the second step of the multistep MSC-based clinical protocol in kidney transplantation. We examined in two living-related kidney transplant recipients whether: (i) pre-transplant (DAY-1) infusion of autologous MSC protected from the development of acute graft dysfunction previously reported in patients given MSC post-transplant, (ii) avoiding basiliximab in the induction regimen improved the MSC-induced Treg expansion previously reported with therapy including this anti-CD25-antibody. In patient 3, MSC treatment was uneventful and graft function remained normal during 1 year follow-up. In patient 4, acute cellular rejection occurred 2 weeks post-transplant. Both patients had excellent graft function at the last observation. Circulating memory CD8(+) T cells and donor-specific CD8(+) T-cell cytolytic response were reduced in MSC-treated patients, not in transplant controls not given MSC. CD4(+) FoxP3(+) Treg expansion was comparable in MSC-treated patients with or without basiliximab induction. Thus, pre-transplant MSC no longer negatively affect kidney graft at least to the point of impairing graft function, and maintained MSC-immunomodulatory properties. Induction therapy without basiliximab does not offer any advantage on CD4(+) FoxP3(+) Treg expansion (ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT 00752479).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tri.12132DOI Listing
September 2013

Variations of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor gene are associated with extreme human longevity.

Age (Dordr) 2013 Jun 9;35(3):993-1005. Epub 2012 May 9.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso, Via Stezzano 87, 24126, Bergamo, Italy.

Longevity phenotype in humans results from the influence of environmental and genetic factors. Few gene polymorphisms have been identified so far with a modest effect on lifespan leaving room for the search of other players in the longevity game. It has been recently demonstrated that targeted disruption of the mouse homolog of the human angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) gene (AGTR1) translates into marked prolongation of animal lifespan (Benigni et al., J Clin Invest 119(3):524-530, 2009). Based on the above study in mice, here we sought to search for AGTR1 variations associated to reduced AT1 receptor protein levels and to prolonged lifespan in humans. AGTR1 was sequenced in 173 Italian centenarians and 376 younger controls. A novel non-synonymous mutation was detected in a centenarian. Two polymorphisms in AGTR1 promoter, rs422858 and rs275653, in complete linkage disequilibrium, were significantly associated with the ability to attain extreme old age. We then replicated the study of rs275653 in a large independent cohort of Japanese origin (598 centenarians and semi-supercentenarians, 422 younger controls) and indeed confirmed its association with exceptional old age. In combined analyses, rs275653 was associated to extreme longevity either at recessive model (P = 0.007, odds ratio (OR) 3.57) or at genotype level (P = 0.015). Significance was maintained after correcting for confounding factors. Fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis revealed that subjects homozygous for the minor allele of rs275653 had less AT1R-positive peripheral blood polymorphonuclear cells. Moreover, rs275653 was associated to lower blood pressure in centenarians. These findings highlight the role of AGTR1 as a possible candidate among longevity-enabling genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11357-012-9408-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636412PMC
June 2013

Embryonic stem cells, derived either after in vitro fertilization or nuclear transfer, prolong survival of semiallogeneic heart transplants.

J Immunol 2011 Apr 9;186(7):4164-74. Epub 2011 Mar 9.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Bergamo 24125, Italy.

Tolerance induction toward allogeneic organ grafts represents one of the major aims of transplantation medicine. Stem cells are promising candidates for promoting donor-specific tolerance. In this study, we investigated the immunomodulatory properties of murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs), obtained either by in vitro fertilization (IVF-ESCs) or by nuclear transfer (NT-ESCs), in heart transplant mouse models. IVF-ESCs did not prolong the survival of fully allogeneic cardiac transplants but significantly prolonged the survival of semiallogeneic hearts from the same ESC donor strain for >100 d in 44% of the animals. However, 28% of transplanted animals infused with IVF-ESCs experienced development of a teratoma. NT-ESCs similarly prolonged semiallogeneic heart graft survival (>100 d in 40% of the animals) but were less teratogenic. By in vitro studies, IVF-ESC and NT-ESC immunoregulation was mediated both by cell contact-dependent mechanisms and by the release of soluble factors. By adding specific inhibitors, we identified PGE(2) as a soluble mediator of ESC immunoregulation. Expansion of regulatory T cells was found in lymphoid organs and in the grafts of IVF-ESC- and NT-ESC-tolerized mice. Our study demonstrates that both IVF-ESCs and NT-ESCs modulate recipient immune response toward tolerance to solid organ transplantation, and that NT-ESCs exhibit a lower tendency for teratoma formation. Because NT-ESCs are obtained by NT of a somatic cell from living individuals into an enucleated oocyte, they could represent a source of donor-derived stem cells to induce tolerance to solid organ allograft.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1000654DOI Listing
April 2011

Autologous mesenchymal stromal cells and kidney transplantation: a pilot study of safety and clinical feasibility.

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2011 Feb 7;6(2):412-22. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Transplant Research Center Chiara Cucchi de Alessandri e Gilberto Crespi, Department of Immunology and Transplantation, Ospedali Riuniti di Bergamo, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Parco Scientifico Tecnologico Kilometro Rosso, via Stezzano 87, 24126 Bergamo, Italy.

Background And Objectives: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) abrogate alloimmune response in vitro, suggesting a novel cell-based approach in transplantation. Moving this concept toward clinical application in organ transplantation should be critically assessed.

Design, Setting, Participants & Measurements: A safety and clinical feasibility study (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00752479) of autologous MSC infusion was conducted in two recipients of kidneys from living-related donors. Patients were given T cell-depleting induction therapy and maintenance immunosuppression with cyclosporine and mycophenolate mofetil. On day 7 posttransplant, MSCs were administered intravenously. Clinical and immunomonitoring of MSC-treated patients was performed up to day 360 postsurgery.

Results: Serum creatinine levels increased 7 to 14 days after cell infusion in both MSC-treated patients. A graft biopsy in patient 2 excluded acute graft rejection, but showed a focal inflammatory infiltrate, mostly granulocytes. In patient 1 protocol biopsy at 1-year posttransplant showed a normal graft. Both MSC-treated patients are in good health with stable graft function. A progressive increase of the percentage of CD4+CD25highFoxP3+CD127- Treg and a marked inhibition of memory CD45RO+RA-CD8+ T cell expansion were observed posttransplant. Patient T cells showed a profound reduction of CD8+ T cell activity.

Conclusions: Findings from this study in the two patients show that MSC infusion in kidney transplant recipients is feasible, allows enlargement of Treg in the peripheral blood, and controls memory CD8+ T cell function. Future clinical trials with MSCs to look with the greatest care for unwanted side effects is advised.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2215/CJN.04950610DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052234PMC
February 2011

The Toll-IL-1R member Tir8/SIGIRR negatively regulates adaptive immunity against kidney grafts.

J Immunol 2009 Oct 4;183(7):4249-60. Epub 2009 Sep 4.

Transplant Research Center Chiara Cucchi De Alessandri & Gilberto Crespi, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, via Camozzi 3, 24020 Ranica, Bergamo, Italy.

Members of the TLR/IL-1R superfamily mediate ischemia/reperfusion injury and initiate immune response in transplanted organs. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that Toll-IL-1R8 (TIR8), a negative regulator of TLR/IL-1R highly expressed in the kidney, modulates immune cell activation underlying kidney rejection. In a mouse model of fully mismatched kidney allotransplantation in which the graft is spontaneously accepted, intragraft Tir8 expression was enhanced compared with naive kidneys. Targeted deletion of Tir8 in the graft exerted a powerful antitolerogenic action leading to acute rejection. Similarly, in a mouse model of kidney graft acceptance induced by costimulation blockade, most Tir8(-/-) grafts were acutely rejected. Despite similar levels of TLR4, IL-1R, and their ligands, the posttransplant ischemia/reperfusion-induced inflammatory response was more severe in Tir8(-/-) than in Tir8(+/+) grafts and was followed by expansion and maturation of resident dendritic cell precursors. In vitro, Tir8(-/-) dendritic cell precursors acquired higher allostimulatory activity and released more IL-6 upon stimulation with a TLR4 ligand and TNF-alpha than Tir8(+/+) cells, which may explain the increased frequency of antidonor-reactive T cells and the block of regulatory T cell formation in recipients of a Tir8(-/-) kidney. Thus, TIR8 acts locally as a key regulator of allogeneic immune response in the kidney. Tir8 expression and/or signaling in donor tissue are envisaged as a novel target for control of innate immunity and amelioration of graft survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.0803549DOI Listing
October 2009

Pretransplant infusion of mesenchymal stem cells prolongs the survival of a semiallogeneic heart transplant through the generation of regulatory T cells.

J Immunol 2008 Sep;181(6):3933-46

Transplant Research Center, "Chiara Cucchi De Alessandri & Gilberto Crespi," Ranica, Italy.

In this study, we investigated whether mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) had immunomodulatory properties in solid organ allotransplantation, using a semiallogeneic heart transplant mouse model, and studied the mechanism(s) underlying MSC tolerogenic effects. Either single (portal vein, day -7) or double (portal vein, day -7 and tail vein, day -1) pretransplant infusions of donor-derived B6C3 MSC in B6 recipients induced a profound T cell hyporesponsiveness and prolonged B6C3 cardiac allograft survival. The protolerogenic effect was abrogated when donor-derived MSC were injected together with B6C3 hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), suggesting that HSC negatively impact MSC immunomodulatory properties. Both the induction (pretransplant) and the maintenance phase (>100 days posttransplant) of donor-derived MSC-induced tolerance were associated with CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg expansion and impaired anti-donor Th1 activity. MSC-induced regulatory T cells (Treg) were donor-specific since adoptive transfer of splenocytes from tolerant mice prevented the rejection of fully MHC-mismatched donor-specific secondary allografts but not of third-party grafts. In addition, infusion of recipient-derived B6 MSC tolerized a semiallogeneic B6C3 cardiac allograft, but not a fully MHC-mismatched BALB/c graft, and expanded Treg. A double i.v. pretransplant infusion of recipient-derived MSC had the same tolerogenic effect as the combined intraportal/i.v. MSC infusions, which makes the tolerogenic protocol applicable in a clinical setting. In contrast, single MSC infusions given either peritransplant or 1 day after transplant were less effective. Altogether these findings indicate that MSC immunomodulatory properties require HSC removal, partial sharing of MHC Ags between the donor and the recipient and pretransplant infusion, and are associated with expansion of donor-specific Treg.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.181.6.3933DOI Listing
September 2008

Mutations in FN1 cause glomerulopathy with fibronectin deposits.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008 Feb 11;105(7):2538-43. Epub 2008 Feb 11.

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Clinical Research Center for Rare Diseases, Aldo e Cele Daccò, Villa Camozzi, Ranica, Bergamo 24020, Italy.

Glomerulopathy with fibronectin (FN) deposits (GFND) is an autosomal dominant disease with age-related penetrance, characterized by proteinuria, microscopic hematuria, hypertension, and massive glomerular deposits of FN that lead to end-stage renal failure. The genetic abnormality underlying GFND was still unknown. We hypothesized that mutations in FN1, which encodes FN, were the cause of GFND. In a large Italian pedigree with eight affected subjects, we found linkage with GFND at the FN1 locus at 2q32. We sequenced the FN1 in 15 unrelated pedigrees and found three heterozygous missense mutations, the W1925R, L1974R, and Y973C, that cosegregated with the disease in six pedigrees. The mutations affected two domains of FN (Hep-II domain for the W1925R and the L1974R, and Hep-III domain for the Y973C) that play key roles in FN-cell interaction and in FN fibrillogenesis. Mutant recombinant Hep-II fragments were expressed, and functional studies revealed a lower binding to heparin and to endothelial cells and podocytes compared with wild-type Hep-II and an impaired capability to induce endothelial cell spreading and cytoskeletal reorganization. Overall dominant mutations in FN1 accounted for 40% of cases of GFND in our study group. These findings may help understanding the pathogenesis of proteinuria and glomerular FN deposits in GFND and possibly in more common renal diseases such as diabetic nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, and lupus nephritis. To our knowledge no FN1 mutation causing a human disease was previously reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0707730105DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2268172PMC
February 2008

Sirolimus versus cyclosporine therapy increases circulating regulatory T cells, but does not protect renal transplant patients given alemtuzumab induction from chronic allograft injury.

Transplantation 2007 Oct;84(8):956-64

Department of Medicine and Transplantation, Ospedali Riuniti di Bergamo, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Transplant Research Center Chiara Cucchi De Alessandri e Gilberto Crespi, Bergamo, Italy.

Background: In kidney transplant recipients with alemtuzumab induction maintained on mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) immunosuppression, sirolimus (SRL) promotes significant expansion of circulating CD4+CD25high regulatory T cells (Treg). This might translate into more effective protection against chronic graft injury compared to cyclosporin A (CsA), which, in the same clinical setting, does not affect Treg.

Methods: To assess this hypothesis, in the extension of a single-center, prospective, randomized, open, blind endpoint study aimed to assess the effect of low-dose SRL or CsA on circulating Treg, we compared the outcomes of renal transplant recipients on SRL (n=11) or CsA (n=10) by per-protocol biopsies and serial measurements of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), renal plasma flow (RPF), and 24-hour proteinuria over 30 months posttransplant.

Results: Despite 4-fold higher CD4+CD25high Treg counts (22.1+/-12.2% vs. 5.7+/-4.2% of CD3+CD4+ T cells), SRL-treated patients, compared to CsA-treated patients, had a significantly higher tubular C4d staining score (1.1+/-0.6 vs. 0.2+/-0.3, P<0.01), with nonsignificant trends to higher chronic allograft damage index score (5.6+/-2.4 vs. 3.7+/-3.3), faster GFR (-2.92+/-0.33 vs. -0.28+/-0.44 ml/min/1.73 m2 per year), and RPF (-10.80+/-5.45 vs. -1.86+/-3.09 ml/min/1.73 m2 per year) decline, and more clinical proteinuria (n=6 vs. 4). There was no significant correlation between Treg counts and any considered outcome variable in the study group as a whole and within each cohort.

Conclusions: These data suggest that, despite enhanced Treg expression, low-dose SRL combined to alemtuzumab induction and MMF-based steroid-free maintenance therapy, does not appreciably protect renal transplant recipients from chronic allograft injury and dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.tp.0000284808.28353.2cDOI Listing
October 2007

Regulatory T cells and T cell depletion: role of immunosuppressive drugs.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2007 Mar 7;18(3):1007-18. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Department of Immunology and Organ Transplantation, Ospedali Riuniti-Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Bergamo, Italy.

Allogeneic immune responses are modulated by a subset of host T cells with regulatory function (Treg) contained within the CD4(+)CD25(high) subset. Evidence exists that Treg expand after peritransplantation lymphopenia, inhibit graft rejection, and induce and maintain tolerance. Little, however, is known about the role of Treg in the clinical setting. IL-2 and activation by T cell receptor engagement are instrumental to generate and maintain Treg, but the influence of immunosuppressants on Treg homeostasis in humans in vivo has not been investigated. This study monitored Treg phenotype and function during immune reconstitution in renal transplant recipients who underwent profound T cell depletion with Campath-1H and received sirolimus or cyclosporine (CsA) as part of their maintenance immunosuppressive therapy. CD4(+)CD25(high) cells that expressed FOXP3 underwent homeostatic peripheral expansion during immune reconstitution, more intense in patients who received sirolimus than in those who were given CsA. T cells that were isolated from peripheral blood long term after transplantation were hyporesponsive to alloantigens in both groups. In sirolimus- but not CsA-treated patients, hyporesponsiveness was reversed by Treg depletion. T cells from CsA-treated patients were anergic. Thus, lymphopenia and calcineurin-dependent signaling seem to be primary mediators of CD4(+)CD25(high) Treg expansion in renal transplant patients. These findings will be instrumental in developing "tolerance permissive" immunosuppressive regimens in the clinical setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2006101143DOI Listing
March 2007

Complement activation: the missing link between ADAMTS-13 deficiency and microvascular thrombosis of thrombotic microangiopathies.

Thromb Haemost 2005 Mar;93(3):443-52

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Center for Research on Organ Transplantation, Chiara Cucchi de Alessandri e Gilberto Crespi, Villa Camozzi-Ranica (BG), Italy.

Endothelial injury is the central factor in the events leading to thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA); however, the mechanisms involved are not fully understood. Here we investigate the role of neutrophils (PMNs) and of complement activation in inducing microvascular damage and loss of thromboresistance in TMA associated with ADAMTS-13 deficiency. PMNs isolated during the acute phase of the disease released excessive amounts of reactive-oxygen species (ROS), N-derived oxidants and proteinases and induced damage and thromboresistance loss in human microvascular endothelial cell line (HMEC-1) ex vivo. Endothelial cytotoxicity and thromboresistance loss was also induced by TMA serum. Complement-derived products were responsible for the above effects: in fact, TMA serum caused C3 and Membrane Attack Complex (MAC) deposition on HMEC-1 and its cytotoxic effect was abolished by complement inhibition. TMA serum caused surface expression of P-selectin on HMEC-1 which may promote PMN adhesion and resulted in increased PMN cytotoxicity, indicating that complement may have a role in PMN activation. In addition, TMA serum stimulated control PMNs to release ROS and proteinases, and to cause endothelial cell cytotoxicity. All of the above effects were abrogated by complement inactivation. These data document for the first time that complement-initiated PMN activation and endothelial injury may have a crucial role in microvascular thrombosis of TMA associated with ADAMTS-13 deficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1160/TH04-07-0450DOI Listing
March 2005

Vasopeptidase inhibitor restores the balance of vasoactive hormones in progressive nephropathy.

Kidney Int 2004 Nov;66(5):1959-65

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Bergamo, Italy.

Background: The mechanism(s) underlying greater renoprotection of combined blockade of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and neutral endopeptidase (NEP) by vasopeptidase over ACE inhibitors are ill defined. We previously found that progressive renal disease is associated with increased renal synthesis of endothelin-1 (ET-1) in the face of reduced generation of renal nitric oxide (NO) in the remnant kidney model. Here we compared changes in urinary excretion of ET-1 and nitrite/nitrate, markers of renal ET-1, and NO synthesis, respectively, and urinary cGMP, an indirect index of renal atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) synthesis, after administration of vasopeptidase or ACE inhibitor in rats with renal mass reduction (RMR).

Methods: Twenty-one days after 5/6 nephrectomy, after the onset of hypertension and overt proteinuria, rats were divided in 3 groups (N= 7-8) and given daily by gavage: vehicle, the vasopeptidase inhibitor AVE7688 (3 mg/kg bid), or enalapril (5 mg/kg bid) until day 90. Normal rats (N= 5) served as control rats.

Results: Systolic blood pressure in RMR rats was equally controlled by AVE7688 and enalapril. AVE7688 resulted in a significant antiproteinuric effect, with urinary protein levels being reduced on average by 83% in respect to vehicle (88 +/- 28 vs. 518 +/- 27 mg/day, P < 0.0001). Enalapril achieved a 47% reduction in proteinuria (277 +/- 81 mg/day, P < 0.01 vs. vehicle) to levels that remained higher (P < 0.01), however, than those after AVE7688. Renal function impairment and glomerular and tubular changes were significantly (P < 0.05 vs. vehicle) ameliorated by AVE7688, and partially affected by enalapril. AVE7688 reduced the abnormal urinary excretion of ET-1 of RMR animals (98 +/- 8 vs. vehicle: 302 +/- 50 pg/24 h, P < 0.001) more than enalapril (159 +/- 14 pg/24 h, P < 0.05 vs. AVE7688). Consistently, AVE7688 was more effective than enalapril in augmenting renal synthesis of NO (2487 +/- 267 and 1519 +/- 217 vs. vehicle: 678 +/- 71 nmol/15 h; P < 0.001, AVE7688 vs. vehicle, P < 0.01 AVE7688 vs. enalapril). AVE7688 significantly increased urinary cGMP (78 +/- 6 vs. vehicle 45 +/- 9 nmol/24 h; P < 0.01).

Conclusion: The superior renoprotection achieved by AVE7688 over enalapril in progressive renal injury is due to the correction of the altered balance of vasoconstrictor/vasodilator mediators in the kidney.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1755.2004.00982.xDOI Listing
November 2004

Nitric oxide synthetic capacity in relation to dialysate temperature.

Blood Purif 2004 ;22(2):203-9

Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Background: During hemodialysis, vascular reactivity is impaired, which can be corrected by lowering dialysate temperature. It has also been shown that nitric oxide (NO) is related to intradialytic hypotension. As NO synthesis may be temperature-dependent, this study addressed the influence of dialysate temperature on the NO synthetic capacity of plasma.

Methods: NO synthetic capacity was studied during hemodialysis with a dialysate temperature of 37.5 degrees C (dialysis-37.5 degrees C) and programmed extracorporeal blood cooling (cool dialysis; Blood Temperature Monitor; Fresenius C) in 12 stable patients. NO synthetic capacity was assessed ex vivo by [3H]L-citrulline formation from [3H]L-arginine in cultured endothelial cells after incubation with plasma samples obtained during the respective sessions.

Results: Core temperature decreased (-0.32 +/- 0.10 degrees C) and energy transfer rate was significantly lower (-27.5 +/- 2.8 W; p < 0.05) during cool dialysis compared to dialysis-37.5 degrees C (0.19 +/- 0.06 degrees C and -0.8 +/- 1.2 W respectively; p < 0.05). Systolic blood pressure decreased during dialysis-37.5 degrees C (-19 +/- 4 mm Hg; p < 0.05), but not during cool dialysis (-6 +/- 5 mm Hg). NO synthetic capacity increased during dialysis-37.5 degrees C (55.5 +/- 9.3 to 73.5 +/- 10.2 pmol/10(5) cells; p < 0.05), in contrast to cool dialysis (67.3 +/- 11.1 to 66.2 +/- 10.8 pmol/10(5) cells).

Conclusion: The stimulatory effect of uremic plasma on endothelial NO synthesis was augmented during dialysis-37.5 degrees C but not during cool dialysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000076854DOI Listing
October 2004

L-arginine depletion in preeclampsia orients nitric oxide synthase toward oxidant species.

Hypertension 2004 Mar 26;43(3):614-22. Epub 2004 Jan 26.

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Via Gavazzeni, 11, 24125 Bergamo, Italy.

Less nitric oxide (NO)-dependent vasodilation and excess formation of reactive oxygen species could explain poor placenta perfusion in preeclampsia, but the pathways involved are unknown. We tested the hypothesis that reduced NO activity and increased oxidative stress in preeclamptic placenta is related to a low bioavailability of l-arginine. Placental endothelial NO synthase (ecNOS) expression (by immunoperoxidase) and activity (by diaphorase and [(3)H]L-citrulline formation) were comparable in normotensive pregnancy and in preeclampsia, whereas nitrotyrosine staining, a marker of peroxynitrite, was stronger in preeclamptic villi, confirming previously reported data. Oxidative tissue damage was documented in preeclamptic villi by strong 4-hydroxynonenal-lysine staining (by immunoperoxidase), which closely colocalized with nitrotyrosine. Concentration of the NO precursor l-arginine (by HPLC) in umbilical blood and in villous tissue was lower in preeclampsia than in normotensive pregnancy. This was not caused by a defective l-arginine transport, because gene expression of the CAT-1, 4F2hc, and LAT-1 cationic amino acid transporters (by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR]) was normal. Instead, gene expression (by real-time RT-PCR) and protein tissue content (by immunoperoxidase and Western blot) of arginase II-the enzyme that degrades arginine to ornithine-were higher in preeclamptic villi than in normotensive pregnancy. These results provide a biochemical explanation for defective NO activity and increased oxidative stress in preeclamptic placenta. In normal placenta, adequate concentration of l-arginine orients ecNOS toward NO. In preeclampsia, a lower than normal l-arginine concentration caused by arginase II overexpression redirects ecNOS toward peroxynitrite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/01.HYP.0000116220.39793.c9DOI Listing
March 2004

Familial haemolytic uraemic syndrome and an MCP mutation.

Lancet 2003 Nov;362(9395):1542-7

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Clinical Research Center for Rare Diseases, Aldo e Cele Daccò, Villa Camozzi-Ranica, Bergamo, Italy.

Background: Mutations in factor H (HF1) have been reported in a consistent number of diarrhoea-negative, non-Shiga toxin-associated cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (D-HUS). However, most patients with D-HUS have no HF1 mutations, despite decreased serum concentrations of C3. Our aim, therefore, was to assess whether genetic abnormalities in other complement regulatory proteins are involved.

Methods: We screened genes that encode the complement regulatory proteins-ie, factor H related 5, complement receptor 1, and membrane cofactor protein (MCP)-by PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) and by direct sequencing, in 25 consecutive patients with D-HUS, an abnormal complement profile, and no HF1 mutation, from our International Registry of Recurrent and Familial HUS/TTP (HUS/thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura).

Findings: We identified a heterozygous mutation in MCP, a surface-bound complement regulator, in two patients with a familial history of HUS. The mutation causes a change in three aminoacids at position 233-35 and insertion of a premature stop-codon, which results in loss of the transmembrane domain of the protein and severely reduced cell-surface expression of MCP.

Interpretation: Results of previous studies on HF1 indicate an association between HF1 deficiency and D-HUS. Our findings of an MCP mutation in two related patients suggest that impaired regulation of complement activation might be a factor in the pathogenesis of genetic forms of HUS. MCP could be a second putative candidate gene for D-HUS. The protein is highly expressed in the kidney and plays a major part in regulation of glomerular C3 activation. We propose, therefore, that reduced expression of MCP in response to complement-activating stimuli could prevent restriction of complement deposition on glomerular endothelial cells, leading to microvascular cell damage and tissue injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14742-3DOI Listing
November 2003

Combining lisinopril and l-arginine slows disease progression and reduces endothelin-1 in passive Heymann nephritis.

Kidney Int 2003 Sep;64(3):857-63

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Bergamo, Italy.

Background: Despite angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition is a very powerful therapy, it may not be uniformly renoprotective in patients with proteinuric nephropathies who might refer late in the course of the disease. In accelerated passive Heymann nephritis (PHN), a severe rat model of human membranous nephropathy, with proteinuria and increased urinary excretion of endothelin-1 (ET-1), early treatment with an ACE inhibition limited proteinuria as well as the exuberant formation of renal ET-1, while late treatment reduced urinary proteins not to a significant extent. Since biologic effects and production of ET-1 within the kidney are counteracted by nitric oxide, we studied the effect of combining lisinopril and l-arginine, the natural precursor of nitric oxide, starting late in the disease.

Methods: Uninephrectomized PHN rats were divided in four groups (N = 10) and daily given orally: vehicle; 1.25 g/L l-arginine; 40 mg/L lisinopril; and l-arginine + lisinopril. Treatments started at 2 months, when rats had massive proteinuria, until 9 months. Six normal rats served as control.

Results: Increase in systolic blood pressure was significantly limited by l-arginine. Lisinopril alone and the combination were more effective. Renal function impairment was not affected by l-arginine, partially ameliorated by ACE inhibitor and normalized by the combined therapy. In rats given l-arginine, proteinuria levels were similar to vehicle. ACE inhibitor kept proteinuria at values comparable to pretreatment and numerically lower than vehicle. Addition of l-arginine to lisinopril was more effective, with values significantly lower than vehicle. Glomerular and tubular changes were limited by the ACE inhibitor and further ameliorated by the combined therapy. Exaggerated urinary ET-1 of PHN was reduced by 23% and 40% after l-arginine and lisinopril, respectively, and by 62% with the combination. Defective urinary excretion of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) was partially restored by lisinopril, while normalized by the combined therapy.

Conclusion: Combining l-arginine with ACE inhibitors would represent a novel strategy for patients with severe nephropathy not completely responsive to ACE inhibition. Restoring the nitric oxide/ET-1 balance could be of benefit in halting renal disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-1755.2003.00191.xDOI Listing
September 2003

Effect of acetate-free biofiltration and bicarbonate hemodialysis on neutrophil activation.

Am J Kidney Dis 2002 Oct;40(4):783-93

Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Clinical Research Center for Rare Diseases, Aldo e Cele Daccò, Villa Camozzi-Ranica, BG, Italy.

Background: Activation of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and monocytes has been described during hemodialysis (HD), which results in the release of reactive oxygen species and cytokines. Acetate-free biofiltration (AFB) has been shown to cause less monocyte activation and cytokine release than bicarbonate HD (BHD). No data are available to date on the effect of AFB on PMN activation.

Methods: We studied ex vivo superoxide anion release by PMNs isolated from nine patients treated in random order with AFB or BHD (three sessions each). Plasma interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) levels and the nitric oxide (NO) synthetic pathway also were evaluated. A polyacrylonitrile (AN69; Hospal, Bologna, Italy) dialyzer was used for both treatments. Fourteen healthy volunteers were used as controls. Blood samples were drawn predialysis and 5 and 15 minutes after starting dialysis to obtain plasma and PMNs.

Results: Neither ex vivo superoxide anion release nor blood PMN count was affected by AFB. Conversely, a peak in superoxide anion production associated with a decrease in PMN count was observed at 5 minutes during BHD. Results of superoxide anion production by control PMNs exposed in vitro to AFB or bicarbonate dialysis bath or Hank's balanced salt solution supplemented with bicarbonate or acetate indicated that BHD-induced PMN activation could be attributed to the amount of bicarbonate present in the dialysis bath. IL-1beta plasma levels did not change during dialysis with AFB and were numerically higher at 5 and 15 minutes with respect to predialysis values during BHD. Uremic plasma obtained during either AFB or BHD induced greater NO synthesis by human umbilical vein endothelial cells than control plasma.

Conclusion: AFB, unlike BHD, does not cause PMN and monocyte activation, which could have a positive impact on dialysis-associated cardiovascular disease of dialyzed patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/ajkd.2002.35690DOI Listing
October 2002
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