Publications by authors named "Sara Castiglioni"

155 Publications

High Magnesium and Sirolimus on Rabbit Vascular Cells-An In Vitro Proof of Concept.

Materials (Basel) 2021 Apr 14;14(8). Epub 2021 Apr 14.

Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco, Università di Milano, Via GB Grassi 74, 20157 Milano, Italy.

Drug-eluting bioresorbable scaffolds represent the last frontier in the field of angioplasty and stenting to treat coronary artery disease, one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In particular, sirolimus-eluting magnesium-based scaffolds were recently introduced in clinical practice. Magnesium alloys are biocompatible and dissolve in body fluids, thus determining high concentrations of magnesium in the local microenvironment. Since magnesium regulates cell growth, we asked whether high levels of magnesium might interfere with the antiproliferative action of sirolimus. We performed in vitro experiments on rabbit coronary artery endothelial and smooth muscle cells (rCAEC and rSMC, respectively). The cells were treated with sirolimus in the presence of different concentrations of extracellular magnesium. Sirolimus inhibits rCAEC proliferation only in physiological concentrations of magnesium, while high concentrations prevent this effect. On the contrary, high extracellular magnesium does not rescue rSMC growth arrest by sirolimus and accentuates the inhibitory effect of the drug on cell migration. Importantly, sirolimus and magnesium do not impair rSMC response to nitric oxide. If translated into a clinical setting, these results suggest that, in the presence of sirolimus, local increases of magnesium concentration maintain normal endothelial proliferative capacity and function without affecting rSMC growth inhibition and response to vasodilators.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ma14081970DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8070902PMC
April 2021

Changes in drug use in European cities during early COVID-19 lockdowns - A snapshot from wastewater analysis.

Environ Int 2021 Mar 26;153:106540. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Environmental and Public Health Analytical Chemistry, Research Institute for Pesticides and Water, University Jaume I, Castellón, Spain; Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced countries to introduce severe restrictive measures to contain its spread. In particular, physical distancing and restriction of movement have had important consequences on human behaviour and potentially also on illicit drug use and supply. These changes can be associated with additional risks for users, in particular due to reduced access to prevention and harm reduction activities. Furthermore, there have been limitations in the amount of data about drug use which can be collected due to restrictions. To goal of this study was to obtain information about potential changes in illicit drug use impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Wastewater samples were collected in seven cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Italy at the beginning of lockdowns (March-May 2020). Using previously established and validated methods, levels of amphetamine (AMP), methamphetamine (METH), MDMA, benzoylecgonine (BE, the main metabolite of cocaine) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH, main metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) were measured and compared with findings from previous years. Important differences in levels of consumed drugs were observed across the considered countries. Whilst for some substances and locations, marked decreases in consumption could be observed (e.g., 50% decrease in MDMA levels compared to previous years). In some cases, similar or even higher levels compared to previous years could be found. Changes in weekly patterns were also observed, however these were not clearly defined for all locations and/or substances. Findings confirm that the current situation is highly heterogeneous and that it remains very difficult to explain and/or predict the effect that the present pandemic has on illicit drug use and availability. However, given the current difficulty in obtaining data due to restrictions, wastewater analysis can provide relevant information about the situation at the local level, which would be hard to obtain otherwise.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106540DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7997602PMC
March 2021

Magnesium Influences Membrane Fusion during Myogenesis by Modulating Oxidative Stress in C2C12 Myoblasts.

Nutrients 2021 Mar 24;13(4). Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco, Università di Milano, Via G.B. Grassi 74, 20157 Milano, Italy.

Magnesium (Mg) is essential to skeletal muscle where it plays a key role in myofiber relaxation. Although the importance of Mg in the mature skeletal muscle is well established, little is known about the role of Mg in myogenesis. We studied the effects of low and high extracellular Mg in C2C12 myogenic differentiation. Non-physiological Mg concentrations induce oxidative stress in myoblasts. The increase of reactive oxygen species, which occurs during the early phase of the differentiation process, inhibits myoblast membrane fusion, thus impairing myogenesis. Therefore, correct Mg homeostasis, also maintained through a correct dietary intake, is essential to assure the regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle fibers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu13041049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8063816PMC
March 2021

New psychoactive substances in several European populations assessed by wastewater-based epidemiology.

Water Res 2021 May 27;195:116983. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Department of Environmental Sciences, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156, Milan, Italy.

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) can be a useful tool to face some of the existing challenges in monitoring the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), as it can provide objective and updated information. This Europe-wide study aimed to verify the suitability of WBE for investigating the use of NPS. Selected NPS were monitored in urban wastewater by high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The main classical illicit drugs were monitored in the same samples to compare their levels with those of NPS. Raw composite wastewater samples were collected in 2016 and 2017 in 14 European countries (22 cities) following best practice sampling protocols. Methcathinone was most frequent (>65% of the cities), followed by mephedrone (>25% of the cities), and only mephedrone, methcathinone and methylone were found in both years. This study depicts the use of NPS in Europe, confirming that it is much lower than the use of classical drugs. WBE proved able to assess the qualitative and quantitative spatial and temporal profiles of NPS use. The results show the changeable nature of the NPS market and the importance of large WBE monitoring campaigns for selected priority NPS. WBE is valuable for complementing epidemiological studies to follow rapidly changing profiles of use of drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.116983DOI Listing
May 2021

International snapshot of new psychoactive substance use: Case study of eight countries over the 2019/2020 new year period.

Water Res 2021 Apr 3;193:116891. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Health and Biomedical Innovation, UniSA: Clinical and Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, Australia. Electronic address:

There is considerable concern around the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), but still little is known about how much they are really consumed. Analysis by forensics laboratories of seized drugs and post-mortem samples as well as hospital emergency rooms are the first line of identifying both 'new' NPS and those that are most dangerous to the community. However, NPS are not necessarily all seized by law enforcement agencies and only substances that contribute to fatalities or serious afflictions are recorded in post-mortem and emergency room samples. To gain a better insight into which NPS are most prevalent within a community, complementary data sources are required. In this work, influent wastewater was analysed from 14 sites in eight countries for a variety of NPS. All samples were collected over the 2019/2020 New Year period, a time which is characterized by celebrations and parties and therefore a time when more NPS may be consumed. Samples were extracted in the country of origin following a validated protocol and shipped to Australia for final analysis using two different mass spectrometric strategies. In total, more than 200 were monitored of which 16 substances were found, with geographical differences seen. This case study is the most comprehensive wastewater analysis study ever carried out for the identification of NPS and provides a starting point for future, ongoing monitoring of these substances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.116891DOI Listing
April 2021

Magnesium Deficiency Induces Lipid Accumulation in Vascular Endothelial Cells via Oxidative Stress-The Potential Contribution of EDF-1 and PPARγ.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Jan 21;22(3). Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Department Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco, Università di Milano, Via GB Grassi 74, 20157 Milano, Italy.

Background: Magnesium deficiency contributes to atherogenesis partly by promoting the dysfunction of endothelial cells, which are critical in vascular homeostasis and diseases. Since EDF-1 and PPARγ regulate crucial endothelial activities, we investigated the modulation of these proteins involved in lipogenesis as well the deposition of lipids in human endothelial cells cultured in different concentrations of magnesium.

Methods: Human endothelial cells from the umbilical vein were cultured in medium containing from 0.1 to 5 mM magnesium for 24 h. The levels of EDF-1 and PPARγ were visualized by Western blot. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) were measured by DCFDA. Lipids were detected after O Red Oil staining.

Results: Magnesium deficiency leads to the accumulation of ROS which upregulate EDF-1. Further, PPARγ is increased after culture in low magnesium, but independently from ROS. Moreover, lipids accumulate in magnesium-deficient cells.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that magnesium deficiency leads to the deposition of lipids by inducing EDF-1 and PPARγ. The increase in intracellular lipids might be interpreted as an adaptive response of endothelial cells to magnesium deficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031050DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7865876PMC
January 2021

A multi-residue analytical method for extraction and analysis of pharmaceuticals and other selected emerging contaminants in sewage sludge.

Anal Methods 2021 01 15;13(4):526-535. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156 Milan, Italy.

Sewage sludge is a by-product of wastewater treatment processes, and may be employed in agriculture as a fertilizer or in forestry for land reclamation. It is an important source of nutrients but its reuse can arouse concern on account of the wide range of contaminants that are retained and may persist during treatments. Information on the emerging contaminants (ECs) in sewage sludge in Italy is limited. The present study developed and applied a reliable analytical method for the analysis of 44 ECs in sewage sludge. ECs were extracted by accelerated solvent extraction followed by a clean-up step on solid-phase cartridges. High performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry was used for analysis. The ECs, selected on the basis of their use and documented presence in the environment, were 42 pharmaceuticals belonging to 12 therapeutic categories and 2 perfluorinated substances. The method performance was good, with recoveries higher than 70%, good repeatability (<20%) and sensitivity in the low ng g range, allowing measurement of the analytes selected. The method was applied for analysis of sludge from 12 wastewater treatment plants in Italy. The most abundant compounds were antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antihypertensives and ranged up to 5 μg g (ciprofloxacin). Seasonal differences were found for some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs as well as some differences - in terms of concentration - with other European countries. This is the first Italian study to investigate the presence of a large number of ECs in sewage sludge and the results may be useful to drive future regulatory actions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0ay02027cDOI Listing
January 2021

Scalable Microgravity Simulator Used for Long-Term Musculoskeletal Cells and Tissue Engineering.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Nov 24;21(23). Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco, Università di Milano, 20157 Milan, Italy.

We introduce a new benchtop microgravity simulator (MGS) that is scalable and easy to use. Its working principle is similar to that of random positioning machines (RPM), commonly used in research laboratories and regarded as one of the gold standards for simulating microgravity. The improvement of the MGS concerns mainly the algorithms controlling the movements of the samples and the design that, for the first time, guarantees equal treatment of all the culture flasks undergoing simulated microgravity. Qualification and validation tests of the new device were conducted with human bone marrow stem cells (bMSC) and mouse skeletal muscle myoblasts (C2C12). bMSC were cultured for 4 days on the MGS and the RPM in parallel. In the presence of osteogenic medium, an overexpression of osteogenic markers was detected in the samples from both devices. Similarly, C2C12 cells were maintained for 4 days on the MGS and the rotating wall vessel (RWV) device, another widely used microgravity simulator. Significant downregulation of myogenesis markers was observed in gravitationally unloaded cells. Therefore, similar results can be obtained regardless of the used simulated microgravity devices, namely MGS, RPM, or RWV. The newly developed MGS device thus offers easy and reliable long-term cell culture possibilities under simulated microgravity conditions. Currently, upgrades are in progress to allow real-time monitoring of the culture media and liquids exchange while running. This is of particular interest for long-term cultivation, needed for tissue engineering applications. Tissue grown under real or simulated microgravity has specific features, such as growth in three-dimensions (3D). Growth in weightlessness conditions fosters mechanical, structural, and chemical interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix in any direction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21238908DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7727824PMC
November 2020

Magnesium and inflammation: Advances and perspectives.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2020 Nov 18. Epub 2020 Nov 18.

Université Clermont Auvergne, INRAE, Unité de Nutrition Humaine, UNH, Clermont-Ferrand, France.

Magnesium is an essential element of life, involved in the regulation of metabolism and homeostasis of all the tissues. It also regulates immunological functions, acting on the cells of innate and adaptive immune systems. Magnesium deficiency primes phagocytes, enhances granulocyte oxidative burst, activates endothelial cells and increases the levels of cytokines, thus promoting inflammation. Consequently, a low magnesium status, which is often underdiagnosed, potentiates the reactivity to various immune challenges and is implicated in the pathophysiology of many common chronic diseases. Here we summarize recent advances supporting the link between magnesium deficiency, inflammatory responses and diseases, and offer new hints towards a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2020.11.002DOI Listing
November 2020

Monitoring caffeine and nicotine use in a nationwide study in Italy using wastewater-based epidemiology.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Dec 28;747:141331. Epub 2020 Jul 28.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee are common habits in today's society. However, it is not easy to get up-to-date information on smoking prevalence and caffeine consumption as it is usually obtained from population surveys. To overcome this limitation and complement epidemiological information, we employed wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to gain a picture of the consumption of cigarettes and caffeine per day per person in Italy. A nationwide study was conducted by measuring two urinary metabolites of nicotine (cotinine and trans-3'-hydroxycotinine) and a caffeine metabolite (1,7-dimethyluric acid) in untreated wastewater from 16 cities. The spatial profiles of use depended mostly on the specific population habits in each city, not on the geographical area or the population size. The patterns of consumption were stable over the week, except in Milan where the use of both substances decreased on Sundays, probably because there were no commuters. In Milan, the use of nicotine decreased from 2013 to 2015. There was a significant relationship between smoking and consumption of products containing caffeine (mainly coffee), thus in cities where more cigarettes were smoked, more caffeine was drunk. These results are generally in accordance with findings from epidemiological studies, but provide some additional local profiles of use and closely follow changes over the years. This information could be useful for healthcare professionals and policy-makers to monitor progress towards the reduction of prevalence in tobacco use, and set up new health campaigns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141331DOI Listing
December 2020

Pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in waters and sediments from Augusta Bay (southern Italy).

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 31;739:139827. Epub 2020 May 31.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri" IRCCS, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156 Milan, Italy.

The contamination by pharmaceuticals products (PPs) in the marine environment is particularly relevant where wastewater treatment of urban areas on land is lacking. However, the number of studies focused on description of sources and fate of PP molecules in the marine environment remains still limited. In this study, the occurrence of 46 PPs was investigated in the marine and coastal-marine system (waters and sediments) of Augusta Bay (central Mediterranean Sea). This area is highly affected by industrial pollution and urban discharges (without wastewater treatment) and thus represents a 'natural laboratory' for exploring dynamics of multi-mixture contaminants in the marine environment. The study area is also part of the sub-region 'Central Mediterranean Sea' of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and therefore offers an important reference site for exploring the distribution modes of PPs in the central Mediterranean Sea. In this work, samples of seawater, sediment, untreated wastewater, and marine receiving water were analysed using mass spectrometry with a target analysis for PPs and a suspect screening analysis for the presence of other contaminants. PPs concentration ranges were: 2426-67,155 ng/L for untreated wastewaters, 550-27,889 ng/L for marine receiving waters and 12-281 ng/L for seawaters. The highest concentrations were measured for the antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, cardiovascular and antihypertensive therapeutic classes. Likewise, sediments collected from untreated wastewater sewers resulted more contaminated. Ionic, non-ionic surfactants and personal care products were the most abundant compounds found in waters and sediments by suspect screening analysis. The risk associated with PPs contamination for aquatic organisms was relatively high in samples of marine receiving waters of the bay (with a risk quotient value up to 33,599). The levels of PPs in seawater and sediment compartments were generally not hazardous (RQ < 0.01), except for estrone with a calculated RQ = 2775.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139827DOI Listing
October 2020

Testing urban wastewater to assess compliance with prescription data through wastewater-based epidemiology: First case study in Italy.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 29;739:139741. Epub 2020 May 29.

Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Milan, Italy.

Sub-optimal adherence to pharmacological therapy is one of the main reasons for poor effectiveness, reducing the patient's quality of life and affecting health-care economics. This study investigated the possibility for a wastewater-based epidemiology approach to assess the overall adherence of a population to some pharmacological therapies in a defined area. We selected specific active ingredients and their main urinary metabolites (biomarkers) according to the best practice protocol available and we measured them for the first time in urban wastewater. We conducted this first case study in Italy, considering the whole country and two Italian regions by sampling for five days six cities from north to south. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry was used to measure the biomarkers in raw wastewater, developing and validating specific analytical methods. We used concentrations measured in influent wastewater, together with a careful review of the excretion profile of the active ingredients selected, to back-calculate consumption (measured consumptions - MC) which were then compared with consumptions calculated from medical prescriptions (expected consumptions - EC) reported annually by the Italian Medicine Agency. In general there was a rough correlation between MC and EC, with ratios sometimes close to unity and always within a 0.3-3.0 range. Interpretation of the results suffers some biases, which are case-by-case discussed in detail, but inclusion of measurements of the urinary metabolites together with the active ingredients gave a fuller understanding of the results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139741DOI Listing
October 2020

Wastewater-based epidemiology to assess the occurrence of new psychoactive substances and alcohol consumption in Slovakia.

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2020 Sep 23;200:110762. Epub 2020 May 23.

Institute of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology, Slovak University of Technology, Radlinského 9, 812 37, Bratislava, Slovakia. Electronic address:

Consumption of alcohol and new psychoactive substances (NPS) in a population or during special events (music festivals) is usually monitored through individual questionnaires, forensic and toxicological data, and drug seizures. However, consumption estimates have some biases due mostly to the unknown composition of drug pills for NPS and stockpiling for alcohol. The aim of this study was to evaluate for the first time the real use of alcohol and the occurrence of NPS in Slovakia by wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). Urban wastewater samples were collected from nine Slovak cities over two years (2017-2018) and during three music festivals. The study included about 20% of the Slovak population and 50 000 festival attendees. The urinary alcohol biomarker ethyl sulfate (EtS) and thirty NPS were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC - MS/MS). EtS concentrations were used for estimating the per capita alcohol consumption in each city. The average alcohol consumption in the selected cities and festivals in 2017-2018 ranged between 7 and 126 L/day/1000 inhabitants and increased during the weekends and music festivals. Five NPS belonging to the classes of synthetic cathinones (mephedrone, methcathinone, buphedrone and pentedrone) and phenethylamines (25-iP-NBoMe) were found in the low ng/L range. Methcathinone was the most frequently detected NPS, while the highest normalized mass load corresponded to mephedrone (3.1 mg/day/1000 inhabitants). Wastewater-based epidemiology can provide timely information on alcohol consumption and NPS occurrence at the community level that is complementary to epidemiology-based monitoring techniques (e.g. population surveys, police seizures, sales statistics).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.110762DOI Listing
September 2020

Assessment of human exposure to selected pesticides in Norway by wastewater analysis.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jun 21;723:138132. Epub 2020 Mar 21.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Pesticides offer many benefits for humanity and agriculture, but at the same time pose a potential risk to human health because of their widespread use and high biological activity. Human biomonitoring (HBM) studies are the main tool to investigate human exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, but face limitations such as sampling biases, long time to complete and high costs. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an alternative approach that is centered on the chemical analysis of biomarkers of (pesticide) exposure in urban wastewater. The present study used WBE to assess human exposure to selected classes of pesticides, triazines, pyrethroids and organophosphates, in Norway. Untreated wastewater samples were collected from four cities, covering approximately 20% of the Norwegian population. The highest population weighted mass loads (mg/day/1000 inhabitants) were for alkyl phosphates and the lowest for triazines. Some differences were observed for the two metabolites, 2-isopropyl-6-methyl-4-pyrimidinol (IMPY) and 3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethyl-(1-cyclopropane) carboxylic acid (DCCA), which were higher in the rural city of Hamar. WBE figures were comparable with HBM findings for the specific metabolite of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos methyl (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol; TCPY) but were different for the alkyl phosphates. Pyrethroid intake was calculated and was lower than the acceptable daily intake in all the cities, indicating low risk for human health. This is the most extensive WBE study performed to date to assess national human exposure to pesticides. This study demonstrated that WBE has the potential to be a useful complementary biomonitoring tool for assessing population-wide exposure to pesticides, overcoming some of the limitations of HBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138132DOI Listing
June 2020

Enantiomeric profiling of quinolones and quinolones resistance gene qnrS in European wastewaters.

Water Res 2020 May 10;175:115653. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) was applied for the first time in seven cities across Europe with the aim of estimating quinolones consumption via the analysis of human urinary metabolites in wastewater. This report is also the first pan-European study focussed on the enantiomeric profiling of chiral quinolones in wastewater. By considering loads of (fluoro)quinolones in wastewater within the context of human stereoselective metabolism, we identified cities in Southern Europe characterised by both high usage and direct disposal of unused ofloxacin. In Northern European cities, S-(-)-ofloxacin loads were predominant with respect to R-(+)-ofloxacin. Much more potent, enantiomerically pure S-(-)-ofloxacin was detected in wastewaters from Southern European cities, reflecting consumption of the enantiomerically pure antibiotic. Nalidixic acid, norfloxacin and lomefloxacin were detected in wastewater even though they were not prescribed according to official prescription data. S,S-(-)-moxifloxacin and S,S-(-)-moxifloxacin-N-sulphate were detected in wastewater due to metabolism of moxifloxacin. For the first time, average population-normalised ulifloxacin loads of 22.3 and 1.5 mg day 1000 people were reported for Milan and Castellón as a result of prulifloxacin metabolism. Enrichment of flumequine with first-eluting enantiomer in all the samples indicated animal metabolism rather than its direct disposal. Fluoroquinolone loads were compared with qnrS gene encoding quinolone resistance to correlate usage of fluoroquinolone and prevalence of resistance. The highest daily loads of the qnrS gene in Milan corresponded with the highest total quinolone load in Milan proving the hypothesis that higher usage of quinolones is linked with higher prevalence of quinolone resistance genes. Utrecht, with the lowest quinolones usage (low daily loads) had also one of the lowest daily loads of the qnrS gene. However, a similar trend was not observed in Oslo nor Bristol where higher qnrS gene loads were observed despite low quinolone usage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2020.115653DOI Listing
May 2020

Methamphetamine exposure modulated oxidative status and altered the reproductive output in Daphnia magna.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jun 10;721:137728. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of Milan, via Celoria 26, I-20133 Milan, Italy.

Methamphetamine (METH) is a central nervous system stimulant drug whose use has increased in the last few years worldwide. After the ingestion of even a single dose, METH is excreted by the organism and enters the aquatic ecosystems, whereby concentrations up to hundreds of ng/L were measured in both sewage and surface waters. Although the environmental concentrations are currently quite low, the high biological activity of METH might cause adverse effects towards non-target organisms. However, to date the information on METH toxicity towards aquatic organisms is limited. Thus, the present study aimed at investigating biochemical and behavioral effects induced by METH exposure towards the Cladoceran Daphnia magna. A 21-days exposure to two environmental concentrations of METH (50 ng/L and 500 ng/L) was performed. At selected time points (7, 14 and 21 days) the amount of pro-oxidant molecules, the activity of antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT, GPx) and levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO) were measured as oxidative stress-related endpoints. Changes in swimming activity and reproductive output were assessed as behavioral endpoints. METH exposure affected the oxidative status of D. magna specimens at both tested concentrations, although no oxidative damage occurred. Although METH did not modulate the swimming activity of D. magna, a significant, positive effect on reproductive output, in terms of number of offspring was found. Our results showed that low concentrations of METH might represent a threat for D. magna, affecting the health status of this aquatic species at different level of biological organization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137728DOI Listing
June 2020

Mitophagy contributes to endothelial adaptation to simulated microgravity.

FASEB J 2020 01 8;34(1):1833-1845. Epub 2019 Dec 8.

Department Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco, Università di Milano, Milano, Italy.

Exposure to real or simulated microgravity is sensed as a stress by mammalian cells, which activate a complex adaptive response. In human primary endothelial cells, we have recently shown the sequential intervention of various stress proteins which are crucial to prevent apoptosis and maintain cell function. We here demonstrate that mitophagy contributes to endothelial adaptation to gravitational unloading. After 4 and 10 d of exposure to simulated microgravity in the rotating wall vessel, the amount of BCL2 interacting protein 3, a marker of mitophagy, is increased and, in parallel, mitochondrial content, oxygen consumption, and maximal respiratory capacity are reduced, suggesting the acquisition of a thrifty phenotype to meet the novel metabolic challenges generated by gravitational unloading. Moreover, we suggest that microgravity induced-disorganization of the actin cytoskeleton triggers mitophagy, thus creating a connection between cytoskeletal dynamics and mitochondrial content upon gravitational unloading.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201901785RRRDOI Listing
January 2020

Concentration-Dependent Effects of N-3 Long-Chain Fatty Acids on Na,K-ATPase Activity in Human Endothelial Cells.

Molecules 2019 Dec 28;25(1). Epub 2019 Dec 28.

Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences "L. Sacco", Università di Milano, 20157 Milano, Italy.

N-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) seem to prevent endothelial dysfunction, a crucial step in atherogenesis, by modulating the levels of vasoactive molecules and by influencing Na,K-ATPase activity of vascular myocytes. The activity of endothelial Na,K-ATPase controls the ionic homeostasis of the neighboring cells, as well as cell function. However, controversy exists with respect to the vascular protective effect of EPA and DHA. We argue that this dispute might be due to the use of different concentrations of EPA and DHA in different studies. Therefore, this study was designed to define an optimal concentration of EPA and DHA to investigate endothelial function. For this purpose, human endothelial cells were exposed for 24 h to different concentrations of DHA or EPA (0-20 μM) to study membrane fluidity, peroxidation potential and Na,K-ATPase activity. EPA and DHA were linearly incorporated and this incorporation was mirrored by the linear increase of unsaturation index, membrane fluidity, and peroxidation potential. Na,K-ATPase activity peaked at 3.75 μM of EPA and DHA and then gradually decreased. It is noteworthy that DHA effects were always more pronounced than EPA. Concluding, low concentrations of EPA and DHA minimize peroxidation sensitivity and optimize Na,K-ATPase activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules25010128DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982972PMC
December 2019

Physiological and Transcriptional Effects of Mixtures of Environmental Estrogens, Androgens, Progestins, and Glucocorticoids in Zebrafish.

Environ Sci Technol 2020 01 2;54(2):1092-1101. Epub 2020 Jan 2.

School of Life Sciences , University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland , Hofackerstrasse 30 , CH-4132 Muttenz , Switzerland.

Fishes are exposed to mixtures of different classes of steroids, but ecotoxicological implications are not sufficiently known. Here, we systematically analyze effects of different combinations of steroid mixtures in zebrafish embryos to assess their joint activities on physiology and transcriptional alterations of steroid-specific target genes at 96 and 120 h post fertilization. In binary mixtures of clobetasol propionate (CLO) with estradiol (E2) or androstenedione (A4), each steroid exhibited its own expression profile. This was also the case in mixtures of 5-, 8-, and 13-different classes of steroids in exposure concentrations of 10-10,000 ng/L. The transcriptional expression of most genes in different mixtures was steroid-specific except for genes encoding aromatase (), sulfotransferase (), and that were induced by androgens, progestins, and glucocorticoids. Marked alterations occurred for in binary mixtures of CLO + E2 and CLO + A4. Glucocorticoids increased the heart rate and muscle contractions. In mixtures containing estrogens, induction of the transcript occurred at 10 ng/L and from the anticoagulation system at 100 ng/L. Our study demonstrates that steroids can act independently in mixtures; the sum of individual steroid profiles is expressed. However, some genes, including , , and , are regulated by several steroids. This joint effect on different pathways may be of concern for fish development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05834DOI Listing
January 2020

Morphological, Physicochemical and FTIR Spectroscopic Properties of Bee Pollen Loads from Different Botanical Origin.

Molecules 2019 Nov 3;24(21). Epub 2019 Nov 3.

Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences - D3A, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, I-60131 Ancona, Italy.

Bee pollen loads generally have a homogeneous and monospecific pollen content and assume a typical form and color, due to the typical bee foraging habits, thus having a typical composition related to the botanical origin. The present study aims to characterize bee pollen loads belonging to different botanical species using morphological, spectroscopic and color properties and to find relationships between these variables. IR spectra analysis allowed to have a reliable picture of the components present in the different samples; color and granulometry permits a visual identification of pollen load belonging to different species. Multivariate analysis enabled differentiation among the botanical origin of most of the bee pollen samples, grouping them according to the family and the genus and confirming the possibility to use IR and color measurements for the evaluative analysis and classification of bee pollen samples, to promote the consumption of this bee product as functional food.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules24213974DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6864723PMC
November 2019

Spatio-temporal assessment of illicit drug use at large scale: evidence from 7 years of international wastewater monitoring.

Addiction 2020 01 23;115(1):109-120. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice, Zatisi, Czech Republic.

Background And Aims: Wastewater-based epidemiology is an additional indicator of drug use that is gaining reliability to complement the current established panel of indicators. The aims of this study were to: (i) assess spatial and temporal trends of population-normalized mass loads of benzoylecgonine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in raw wastewater over 7 years (2011-17); (ii) address overall drug use by estimating the average number of combined doses consumed per day in each city; and (iii) compare these with existing prevalence and seizure data.

Design: Analysis of daily raw wastewater composite samples collected over 1 week per year from 2011 to 2017.

Setting And Participants: Catchment areas of 143 wastewater treatment plants in 120 cities in 37 countries.

Measurements: Parent substances (amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA) and the metabolites of cocaine (benzoylecgonine) and of Δ -tetrahydrocannabinol (11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ -tetrahydrocannabinol) were measured in wastewater using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Daily mass loads (mg/day) were normalized to catchment population (mg/1000 people/day) and converted to the number of combined doses consumed per day. Spatial differences were assessed world-wide, and temporal trends were discerned at European level by comparing 2011-13 drug loads versus 2014-17 loads.

Findings: Benzoylecgonine was the stimulant metabolite detected at higher loads in southern and western Europe, and amphetamine, MDMA and methamphetamine in East and North-Central Europe. In other continents, methamphetamine showed the highest levels in the United States and Australia and benzoylecgonine in South America. During the reporting period, benzoylecgonine loads increased in general across Europe, amphetamine and methamphetamine levels fluctuated and MDMA underwent an intermittent upsurge.

Conclusions: The analysis of wastewater to quantify drug loads provides near real-time drug use estimates that globally correspond to prevalence and seizure data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.14767DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6973045PMC
January 2020

Micropollutants in Lake Como water in the context of circular economy: A snapshot of water cycle contamination in a changing pollution scenario.

J Hazard Mater 2020 02 13;384:121441. Epub 2019 Oct 13.

Department of Science and High Technology, University of Insubria, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy.

In this work we evaluated the contamination of the water cycle in Como Bay by measuring 38 selected pharmaceuticals in two main wastewater treatment plant in Switzerland and in Italy, two influents (River Breggia and Cosia), lake water (epilimnion and hypolimnion), as well as potable water. The collection of comparative information on the presence and environmental fate of these substances contributes to set specific environmental quality standard (EQS). The results presented show that the contamination of the lake reflects national health policies, which deeply influence the usage of chemicals. The outcomes of this study give an overall picture of contamination in the area, showing that concentrations of the measured compounds are generally low and under the commonly adopted ecotoxicological and toxicological thresholds. Only in a few cases did the contamination appear to be noteworthy, for some of the most persistent compounds (antibiotic macrolides, diclofenac, irbesartan, carbamazepine and dihydrocarbamazepine, bezafibrate, furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide). Some concern can be also be raised for the presence of antibiotics (clarithromycin) in drinking water, although at very low levels, due to the problem of antibiotic resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121441DOI Listing
February 2020

Use of legal and illegal substances in Malé (Republic of Maldives) assessed by wastewater analysis.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jan 30;698:134207. Epub 2019 Aug 30.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Via Mario Negri 2, 20156 Milan, Italy.

This study used wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to investigate the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Malé, the capital of the Republic of Maldives. Raw wastewater 12-h composite samples were collected from nine pumping stations serving the city area - thus representative of the whole Malé population. Samples were analysed by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry for estimating the profile of use of a large number of substances including illicit drugs, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and pharmaceuticals. The illicit drugs most used were cannabis (THC) and heroin (700 and 18 g/day), with lower consumption of cocaine and amphetamines (0.1-1.2 g/day). It is important to note that the consumption of cannabis in Malé was comparable to that measured in other countries, while the consumption of heroin was higher. Among cathinones, mephedrone was detected at the highest levels similar to other countries. Consumption of alcohol, which is not allowed in Maldives, was found (1.3 L/day/1000 inhabitants), but at a low level compared with other countries (6-44 L/day/1000 inhabitants), while the consumption of caffeine and tobacco was generally in line with reports from other countries. Unique information on pharmaceuticals use was also provided, since no official data were available. Human lifestyle was evaluated by applying for the first time the full set of WBE methodologies available in our laboratory. Results provided valuable epidemiological information, which may be useful for national and international agencies to understand population lifestyles better, including illicit drug issues, and for planning and evaluation of drug prevention programs in Malé.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134207DOI Listing
January 2020

Wastewater-based epidemiology for tracking human exposure to mycotoxins.

J Hazard Mater 2020 01 27;382:121108. Epub 2019 Aug 27.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Via La Masa 19, 20156, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Mycotoxins are among the compounds of most concern for human health because of their common presence in food and their proven toxicity for human health. Human biomonitoring (HBM) studies, foodstuff analysis and dietary surveys are usually used to assess human exposure, but they are costly and time-consuming. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) can complement the established exposure monitoring tools. The aim of this study was to develop a new WBE application for assessing human exposure to mycotoxins by measuring specific biomarkers in raw wastewater. Eleven substances were analysed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in wastewater from four cities in Italy and Spain. Only deoxynivalenol (DON) and fumonisines were found, DON being the most abundant, in accordance with HBM studies. DON intake, back-calculated by WBE, was lower than the established Health-Based Guidance values, indicating moderate exposure in the population, with no risks for human health. WBE intake estimates were very close to those reported in HBM studies, validating WBE for estimating DON intake in the population. This study describes a promising WBE approach to complement HBM studies and assess the human intake of specific classes of mycotoxins, thus helping to identify risks for human health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121108DOI Listing
January 2020

Chemical Fingerprint of Zn-Hydroxyapatite in the Early Stages of Osteogenic Differentiation.

ACS Cent Sci 2019 Aug 16;5(8):1449-1460. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna 40127, Italy.

The core knowledge about biomineralization is provided by studies on the advanced phases of the process mainly occurring in the extracellular matrix. Here, we investigate the early stages of biomineralization by evaluating the chemical fingerprint of the initial mineral nuclei deposition in the intracellular milieu and their evolution toward hexagonal hydroxyapatite. The study is conducted on human bone mesenchymal stem cells exposed to an osteogenic cocktail for 4 and 10 days, exploiting laboratory X-ray diffraction techniques and cutting-edge developments of synchrotron-based 2D and 3D cryo-X-ray microscopy. We demonstrate that biomineralization starts with Zn-hydroxyapatite nucleation within the cell, rapidly evolving toward hexagonal hydroxyapatite crystals, very similar in composition and structure to the one present in human bone. These results provide experimental evidence of the germinal role of Zn in hydroxyapatite nucleation and foster further studies on the intracellular molecular mechanisms governing the initial phases of bone tissue formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.9b00509DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716342PMC
August 2019

3D Quantitative and Ultrastructural Analysis of Mitochondria in a Model of Doxorubicin Sensitive and Resistant Human Colon Carcinoma Cells.

Cancers (Basel) 2019 Aug 27;11(9). Epub 2019 Aug 27.

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy.

Drug resistance remains a major obstacle in cancer treatment. Because mitochondria mediate metabolic reprogramming in cancer drug resistance, we focused on these organelles in doxorubicin sensitive and resistant colon carcinoma cells. We employed soft X-ray cryo nano-tomography to map three-dimensionally these cells at nanometer-resolution and investigate the correlation between mitochondrial morphology and drug resistance phenotype. We have identified significant structural differences in the morphology of mitochondria in the two strains of cancer cells, as well as lower amounts of Reactive oxygen species (ROS) in resistant than in sensitive cells. We speculate that these features could elicit an impaired mitochondrial communication in resistant cells, thus preventing the formation of the interconnected mitochondrial network as clearly detected in the sensitive cells. In fact, the qualitative and quantitative three-dimensional assessment of the mitochondrial morphology highlights a different structural organization in resistant cells, which reflects a metabolic cellular adaptation functional to survive to the offense exerted by the antineoplastic treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers11091254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769783PMC
August 2019

Drug Use by Music Festival Attendees: A Novel Triangulation Approach Using Self-Reported Data and Test Results of Oral Fluid and Pooled Urine Samples.

Subst Use Misuse 2019 9;54(14):2317-2327. Epub 2019 Aug 9.

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

Self-reported data are commonly used when investigating illicit substance use. However, self-reports have well-known limitations such as limited recall and socially desirable responding. Mislabeling or adulteration of drugs on the illicit market may also cause incorrect reporting. We aimed to examine what could be gained in terms of illicit drug use findings among music festival attendees when including biological sample test results in the assessment. We included 651 attendees at three music festivals in Norway from June to August 2016. Self-reported drug use was recorded using questionnaires, and samples of oral fluid were analyzed to detect use of illicit drugs. In addition, we analyzed samples of pooled urine from portable toilets at each festival. All methods identified cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine as the most commonly used drugs. Overall, 6.6% of respondents reported use of illicit substances during the previous 48 hours. Oral fluid testing identified a larger number of drug users as 12.6% tested positive for illicit drugs. In oral fluid testing, we identified ketamine and three new psychoactive substances (NPS) that had not been reported on the questionnaire. In pooled urine testing, we identified amphetamine and three additional NPS that were neither reported used nor found in oral fluid samples. Drug testing of biological samples proved to be an important supplement to self-reports as a larger number of illicit substances could be detected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1646285DOI Listing
May 2020