Publications by authors named "Silvia Mari"

35 Publications

Measuring objectification through the Body Inversion Paradigm: Methodological issues.

PLoS One 2020 19;15(2):e0229161. Epub 2020 Feb 19.

Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.

Objectification occurs when a person is perceived and/or treated like an object. With the present work, we overview the available measures of objectification and present a series of studies aimed at investigating the validity of the task of inverted body recognition proposed by Bernard and colleagues (2012), which might potentially be a useful cognitive measure of objectification. We conducted three studies. Study 1 (N = 101) is a direct replication of Bernard et al.'s study: participants were presented with the same photos of sexualized male and female targets used in the original research. Study 2a (N = 100) is a conceptual replication: we used different images of scantily dressed male and female models. Finally, in Study 2b (N = 100), we investigated a boundary condition by presenting to participants photos of the same models as in Study 2a, but fully dressed and non-sexualized. Using mixed-effects models for completely-crossed classified data structures, we investigated the relationship between the inversion effect and the stimulus' asymmetry, sexualization and attractiveness, and the perceivers' self-objectification, sexism, and automatic woman-human association. Study 1 replicated the original results, showing a stronger inversion effect for male photos. However, no difference between male and female stimuli emerged in either Study 2a or 2b. Moreover, the impact of the other variables on the inversion effect was highly unstable across the studies. These aspects together indicate that the inversion effect depends on the specific set of stimuli and limits the generalizability of results collected using this method.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0229161PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7031944PMC
May 2020

Myoelectric manifestation of muscle fatigue in repetitive work detected by means of miniaturized sEMG sensors.

Int J Occup Saf Ergon 2018 Sep 25;24(3):464-474. Epub 2017 Sep 25.

a Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene , INAIL , Italy.

Upper limb work-related musculoskeletal disorders have a 12-month prevalence ranging from 12 to 41% worldwide and can be partly caused by handling low loads at high frequency. The association between the myoelectric manifestation of elbow flexor muscle fatigue and occupational physical demand has never been investigated. It was hypothesized that an elbow flexor muscle fatigue index could be a valid risk indicator in handling low loads at high frequency. This study aims to measure the myoelectric manifestation of muscle fatigue of the three elbow flexor muscles during the execution of the work tasks in different risk conditions. Fifteen right-handed healthy adults were screened using a movement analysis laboratory consisting of optoelectronic, dynamometer and surface electromyographic systems. The main result indicates that the fatigue index calculated from the brachioradialis is sensitive to the interaction among risk classes, session and gender, and above all it is sensitive to the risk classes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10803548.2017.1357867DOI Listing
September 2018

Use of dynamic movement orthoses to improve gait stability and trunk control in ataxic patients.

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 2017 Oct 19;53(5):735-743. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University, Polo Pontino, Latina, Italy.

Background: Patients with cerebellar ataxia show increased upper body movements, which have an impact on balance and walking.

Aim: In this study, we investigated the effect of using dynamic movement orthoses (DMO), designed as elastic suits, on trunk motion and gait parameters.

Design: Longitudinal uncontrolled study.

Setting: Outpatient rehabilitation unit.

Population: Eleven patients (7 men, 4 women; mean age: 49.9±9.5 years) with degenerative cerebellar ataxia were enrolled in this study.

Methods: Linear overground gait of patients was recorded by means of an optoelectronic gait analysis system before DMO use (DMO-) and during DMO use (DMO+). Time-distance parameters, lower limb joint kinematics, body sway, trunk oscillations, and gait variability (coefficient of variation [CV]) were recorded. Patient satisfaction with DMO device was measured using Quebec user evaluation of satisfaction with assistive technology.

Results: When using the DMO, patients showed a significant decrease in stance phase duration, double support phase duration, swing phase CV, pelvic range of motion (ROM), body sway, and trunk ROMs. A significant increase was observed in the swing phase duration and knee joint ROM. Out of 11 patients, 10 were either quite satisfied (8 points) or very satisfied (2 points) with the assistive device.

Conclusions: The DMO reduce the upper body motion and in improve balance-related gait parameters.

Clinical Rehabilitation Impact: We propose use of DMO as an assistive/rehabilitative device in the neurorehabilitation of cerebellar ataxia to improve the trunk control and gait stability. DMO may be considered a prototype that can be modified in terms of material characteristics, textile layers, elastic components, and diagonal and lateral seams.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S1973-9087.17.04480-XDOI Listing
October 2017

Consumers' perceptions of food risks: A snapshot of the Italian Triveneto area.

Appetite 2017 04 23;111:105-115. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

Health Awareness and Communication Department, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, viale dell'Università 10, 35020 Legnaro(PD), Italy. Electronic address:

This study investigated the food risk perceptions of people living in the Triveneto area (Northeast Italy), a territory characterized by a particular interest in the production of quality foodstuffs, to determine what aspects people associate with food risk and to understand what beliefs underlie these perceptions. Four focus groups were conducted in the major towns of the target area (N = 45). A semi-structured interview was used that focused on beliefs about food risks, the use of information and media sources in relation to food risk, and the behaviours adopted when eating outside the home. A homogeneous view of food risk emerged among the respondents, and a common definition of risky food was identified. The concept of risk was in opposition to the quality and controllability of food, which emerged as major strategies to cope with food risks. Quality was linked to freshness and local origin, whereas controllability reflected a direct (e.g., checking labels, having a relationship with the vendor, cultivating one's own vegetable garden) or indirect (e.g., control guarantees provided by suppliers and the government) means to check the safety and quality of food. Although people seemed quite informed about food risks, a common sense of impotence with regard to one's own protection prevailed, together with a fatalistic sense of incomplete control over risk. The results identified food concerns for consumers living in this specific territory and might represent a starting point for public health authorities to increase compliance with responsible behaviours for risk mitigation and to define successful food policies for this area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.12.028DOI Listing
April 2017

Assessing Heterogeneity of Osteolytic Lesions in Multiple Myeloma by ¹H HR-MAS NMR Metabolomics.

Int J Mol Sci 2016 Oct 31;17(11). Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Biomolecular NMR Unit, Division of Genetics and Cell Biology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, 20132 Milano, Italy.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of plasma cells characterized by multifocal osteolytic bone lesions. Macroscopic and genetic heterogeneity has been documented within MM lesions. Understanding the bases of such heterogeneity may unveil relevant features of MM pathobiology. To this aim, we deployed unbiased ¹H high-resolution magic-angle spinning (HR-MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics to analyze multiple biopsy specimens of osteolytic lesions from one case of pathological fracture caused by MM. Multivariate analyses on normalized metabolite peak integrals allowed clusterization of samples in accordance with a posteriori histological findings. We investigated the relationship between morphological and NMR features by merging morphological data and metabolite profiling into a single correlation matrix. Data-merging addressed tissue heterogeneity, and greatly facilitated the mapping of lesions and nearby healthy tissues. Our proof-of-principle study reveals integrated metabolomics and histomorphology as a promising approach for the targeted study of osteolytic lesions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms17111814DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133815PMC
October 2016

Effect of 24-h continuous rotigotine treatment on stationary and non-stationary locomotion in de novo patients with Parkinson disease in an open-label uncontrolled study.

J Neurol 2015 Nov 25;262(11):2539-47. Epub 2015 Aug 25.

Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, University of Rome Sapienza, Latina, Italy.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a rotigotine transdermal patch on stationary and non-stationary locomotion in de novo Parkinson disease (PD) patients in an open-label uncontrolled study. A 3-D gait analysis system was used to investigate four different locomotor tasks: steady-state linear walking, gait initiation, gait termination and 180°-turning. A series of gait variables were measured for each locomotor task. PD patients who received rotigotine treatment (4-8 mg) displayed: (1) increased step length, gait speed, cadence and arm oscillations, and reduced double support duration and step asymmetry during steady-state linear gait; (2) increased initial step length during gait initiation; (3) increased final step length and gait speed, and decreased stability index during gait termination; (4) decreased duration of turning and head-pelvis delays during 180°-turning. The main finding that emerges from the present study is that the dopamine agonist rotigotine can improve various aspects of gait in de novo PD patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-015-7883-4DOI Listing
November 2015

Prefrontal cortex as a compensatory network in ataxic gait: a correlation study between cortical activity and gait parameters.

Restor Neurol Neurosci 2015 ;33(2):177-87

Institute of Neurology, Catholic University, L.go F. Vito, Rome, Italy IRCSS S. Raffaele Pisana Roma, Via della Pisana, Rome, Italy.

Purpose: To investigate whether prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning during ataxic gait is linked to compensatory mechanisms or to the typical intra-subject variability of the ataxic gait.

Methods: Nineteen patients with chronic ataxia and fifteen healthy subjects were evaluated. The subjects were requested to walk along a straight distance of 10 meters while PFC oxygenation and gait parameters were assessed. PFC activity was evaluated by NIRO-200 while gait analysis was performed by the SMART-D500. To investigate the intra-subject variability of gait, we calculated the coefficient of multiple correlation (CMC) of the hip, knee and ankle kinematic waveforms furthermore, we evaluated the step width.

Results: We observed a positive correlation between PFC bilateral oxygenation changes and the step width (r = 0.54; p = 0.02 for the right PFC, and r = 0.50; p = 0.03 for the left PFC). No correlation was found between PFC activity and CMC of the hip, knee and ankle waveforms.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that PFC activity is linked to gait compensatory mechanisms more than to the variability of the joint kinematic parameters caused by a defective cerebellar control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/RNN-140449DOI Listing
November 2015

[The role of coactivation of the trunk musculature in evaluating biomechanical risk].

G Ital Med Lav Ergon 2014 Oct-Dec;36(4):347-50

Dipartimento di Medicina de Lavoro, INAIL, Roma

One of the mechanisms adopted by the central nervous system to stabilize the joints or the spine is muscle co-activation. Nevertheless during lifting tasks muscle co-activation increases spinal load. For co-activation assessment during 3 lifting tasks at increasing load levels we utilized a time-varying co-activation algorithm proposed by Rudolph in 2000. We found that Rudolph co-activation index grew with lifting index. The time-varying co-activation index gave a continuous measure of low back compression. A time-varying co-activation index could be of great interest in all conditions in which NIOSH equation is not applicable.
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March 2015

A new muscle co-activation index for biomechanical load evaluation in work activities.

Ergonomics 2015 2;58(6):966-79. Epub 2015 Jan 2.

a Department of Occupational Medicine , INAIL, Via Fontana Candida 1, Monte Porzio Catone, Rome 00040 , Italy.

Low-back disorders (LBDs) are the most common and costly musculoskeletal problem. Muscle co-activation, a mechanism that stabilises the spine, is adopted by the central nervous system to provide added protection and avoid LBDs. However, during high-risk lifting tasks, the compressive load on the spine grows owing to increased co-activation. The aim of this study was to develop a method for the sample-by-sample monitoring of the co-activation of more than two muscles, and to compare this method with agonist-antagonist methods. We propose a time-varying multi-muscle co-activation function that considers electromyographic (EMG) signals as input. EMG data of 10 healthy subjects were recorded while they manually lifted loads at three progressively heavier conditions. The repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant effect of lifting condition on our co-activation index. Heavier conditions resulted in higher muscle co-activation values. Significant correlations were found between the time-varying multi-muscle co-activation index and other agonist-antagonist methods. Practitioner Summary: We have developed a method to quantify muscle co-activation during the execution of a lifting task. To do this we used surface electromyography. Our algorithm provides a measure of time-varying co-activation between more than two muscles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2014.991764DOI Listing
December 2016

Kinematic and electromyographic assessment of manual handling on a supermarket green- grocery shelf.

Work 2015 Jun;51(2):261-71

INAIL - Department of Occupational Medicine, Rome, Italy.

Background: There are few epidemiological data regarding musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in retail industry. Biomechanical risk assessment in ergonomics is commonly performed in retail sector using standardized protocols. However, such protocols have numerous limitations, such as the lack of objectivity or applicability and restrictive conditions.

Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze one of the most commonly used shelves in vegetable and fruit departments in order to investigate the effect of different shelf levels (i.e. with variations in height and horizontal distance) and load weights on the workers' biomechanical load.

Methods: We investigated trunk, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle joint ROMs, as well as the mean and peak EMG values of the upper limb, trunk and lower limb muscles.

Results: We found that shelf level has a significant effect on most of the parameters examined, whereas within this limited range of 6 and 8 kg, weight does not affect the biomechanical load. We also identified the shelf levels that place the least and most strain on the musculoskeletal system.

Conclusions: We therefore recommend that the height and horizontal distance be carefully considered when shelves are being designed. Kinematic and EMG approach may help to objectively assess shelf-related risks. Our findings are in agreement with RNLE LI values and therefore support RNLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/WOR-141900DOI Listing
June 2015

Lower limb antagonist muscle co-activation and its relationship with gait parameters in cerebellar ataxia.

Cerebellum 2014 Apr;13(2):226-36

Fondazione Don Gnocchi, Milan, Italy.

Increased antagonist muscle co-activation, seen in motor-impaired individuals, is an attempt by the neuromuscular system to provide mechanical stability by stiffening joints. The aim of this study was to investigate the co-activation pattern of the antagonist muscles of the ankle and knee joints during walking in patients with cerebellar ataxia, a neurological disease that strongly affects stability. Kinematic and electromyographic parameters of gait were recorded in 17 patients and 17 controls. Ankle and knee antagonist muscle co-activation indexes were measured throughout the gait cycle and during the sub-phases of gait. The indexes of ataxic patients were compared with those of controls and correlated with clinical and gait variables. Patients showed increased co-activity indexes of both ankle and knee muscles during the gait cycle as well as during the gait sub-phases. Both knee and ankle muscle co-activation indexes were positively correlated with disease severity, while ankle muscle co-activation was also positively correlated with stance and swing duration variability. Significant negative correlations were observed between the number of self-reported falls per year and knee muscle co-activation. The increased co-activation observed in these cerebellar ataxia patients may represent a compensatory strategy serving to reduce gait instability. Indeed, this mechanism allows patients to reduce the occurrence of falls. The need for this strategy, which results in excessive muscle co-contraction, increased metabolic costs and cartilage degeneration processes, could conceivably be overcome through the use of supportive braces specially designed to provide greater joint stability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-013-0533-4DOI Listing
April 2014

Safety and efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation in acute experimental ischemic stroke.

Stroke 2013 Nov 27;44(11):3166-74. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

From the Neuroimmunology Unit (L.P.-J., M.B., M.G., S.S., G.C., G.M.) and Experimental Neurophysiology Unit, Division of Neuroscience, Institute of Experimental Neurology (INSPE), DIBIT-II, San Raffaele Scientific Institute (M.C., M.C., L.T., G.C., L.L.), Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy; and Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Biomolecular NMR Laboratory c/o Center for Translational Genomics and Bioinformatics, Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy (E.G., S.M., G.M.).

Background And Purpose: Transcranial direct current stimulation is emerging as a promising tool for the treatment of several neurological conditions, including cerebral ischemia. The therapeutic role of this noninvasive treatment is, however, limited to chronic phases of stroke. We thus ought to investigate whether different stimulation protocols could also be beneficial in the acute phase of experimental brain ischemia.

Methods: The influence of both cathodal and anodal transcranial direct current stimulation in modifying brain metabolism of healthy mice was first tested by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Then, mice undergoing transient proximal middle cerebral artery occlusion were randomized and treated acutely with anodal, cathodal, or sham transcranial direct current stimulation. Brain metabolism, functional outcomes, and ischemic lesion volume, as well as the inflammatory reaction and blood brain barrier functionality, were analyzed.

Results: Cathodal stimulation was able, if applied in the acute phase of stroke, to preserve cortical neurons from the ischemic damage, to reduce inflammation, and to promote a better clinical recovery compared with sham and anodal treatments. This finding was attributable to the significant decrease of cortical glutamate, as indicated by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Conversely, anodal stimulation induced an increase in the postischemic lesion volume and augmented blood brain barrier derangement.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that transcranial direct current stimulation exerts a measurable neuroprotective effect in the acute phase of stroke. However, its timing and polarity should be carefully identified on the base of the pathophysiological context to avoid potential harmful side effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.001687DOI Listing
November 2013

Virtual users support forum: do community members really want to help you?

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2013 Apr 26;16(4):285-92. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy.

The survival of a virtual community is guaranteed by the users' creation of content. However, the literature has found that the percentage of users who create innovative content is very modest. The content contribution process can also be interpreted as a social collective action in which we-intentions play a primary role. Nevertheless, some people choose not to participate in the collective action, but to benefit from the community's resources and to maximize individual outcomes. In this study (N=250), we investigated the effects of the free-riding tendency, conceived as the willingness to maximize personal outcomes. The specific setting was a virtual support forum, the most common type of web platform, generally used instrumentally by web users to find information and solutions to specific problems. We used the theory of planned behavior theoretical framework, plus social influence variables to test the effect of the free-riding tendency as a drawback for contributions, considering both the role of individual and we-intentions on the observed behavior. Findings showed that neither we-intentions nor I-intentions predicted the actual contribution behavior. Both types of intentions and contribution behavior were negatively influenced only by the free-riding tendency construct. Considerations and future developments of these results are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0412DOI Listing
April 2013

Defective glucose metabolism in polycystic kidney disease identifies a new therapeutic strategy.

Nat Med 2013 Apr 24;19(4):488-93. Epub 2013 Mar 24.

Division of Genetics and Cell Biology, Dulbecco Telethon Institute at Dibit, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a common genetic disorder characterized by bilateral renal cyst formation. Recent identification of signaling cascades deregulated in ADPKD has led to the initiation of several clinical trials, but an approved therapy is still lacking. Using a metabolomic approach, we identify a pathogenic pathway in this disease that can be safely targeted for therapy. We show that mutation of PKD1 results in enhanced glycolysis in cells in a mouse model of PKD and in kidneys from humans with ADPKD. Glucose deprivation resulted in lower proliferation and higher apoptotic rates in PKD1-mutant cells than in nondeprived cells. Notably, two distinct PKD mouse models treated with 2-deoxyglucose (2DG), to inhibit glycolysis, had lower kidney weight, volume, cystic index and proliferation rates as compared to nontreated mice. These metabolic alterations depend on the extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) pathway acting in a dual manner by inhibiting the liver kinase B1 (LKB1)-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) axis on the one hand while activating the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1)-glycolytic cascade on the other. Enhanced metabolic rates further inhibit AMPK. Forced activation of AMPK acts in a negative feedback loop, restoring normal ERK activity. Taken together, these data indicate that defective glucose metabolism is intimately involved in the pathobiology of ADPKD. Our findings provide a strong rationale for a new therapeutic strategy using existing drugs, either individually or in combination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.3092DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944011PMC
April 2013

Sudden stopping in patients with cerebellar ataxia.

Cerebellum 2013 Oct;12(5):607-16

Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, University of Rome Sapienza, Latina, Italy.

Stopping during walking, a dynamic motor task frequent in everyday life, is very challenging for ataxic patients, as it reduces their gait stability and increases the incidence of falls. This study was conducted to analyse the biomechanical characteristics of upper and lower body segments during abrupt stopping in ataxic patients in order to identify possible strategies used to counteract the instability in the sagittal and frontal plane. Twelve patients with primary degenerative cerebellar ataxia and 12 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects were studied. Time-distance parameters, dynamic stability of the centre of mass, upper body measures and lower joint kinematic and kinetic parameters were analysed. The results indicate that ataxic patients have a great difficulty in stopping abruptly during walking and adopt a multi-step stopping strategy, occasionally with feet parallel, to compensate for their inability to coordinate the upper body and to generate a well-coordinated lower limb joint flexor-extensor pattern and appropriate braking forces for progressively decelerating the progression of the body in the sagittal plane. A specific rehabilitation treatment designed to improve the ability of ataxic patients to transform unplanned stopping into planned stopping, to coordinate upper body and to execute an effective flexion-extension pattern of the hip and knee joints may be useful in these patients in order to improve their stopping performance and prevent falls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-013-0467-xDOI Listing
October 2013

Lower-limb joint coordination pattern in obese subjects.

Biomed Res Int 2013 19;2013:142323. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Department of Occupational Medicine, INAIL, Via Fontana Candida 1, Monte Porzio Catone, 00040 Rome, Italy.

The coordinative pattern is an important feature of locomotion that has been studied in a number of pathologies. It has been observed that adaptive changes in coordination patterns are due to both external and internal constraints. Obesity is characterized by the presence of excess mass at pelvis and lower-limb areas, causing mechanical constraints that central nervous system could manage modifying the physiological interjoint coupling relationships. Since an altered coordination pattern may induce joint diseases and falls risk, the aim of this study was to analyze whether and how coordination during walking is affected by obesity. We evaluated interjoint coordination during walking in 25 obese subjects as well as in a control group. The time-distance parameters and joint kinematics were also measured. When compared with the control group, obese people displayed a substantial similarity in joint kinematic parameters and some differences in the time-distance and in the coupling parameters. Obese subjects revealed higher values in stride-to-stride intrasubjects variability in interjoint coupling parameters, whereas the coordinative mean pattern was unaltered. The increased variability in the coupling parameters is associated with an increased risk of falls and thus should be taken into account when designing treatments aimed at restoring a normal locomotion pattern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/142323DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3591115PMC
September 2013

Strategies adopted by cerebellar ataxia patients to perform U-turns.

Cerebellum 2013 Aug;12(4):460-8

Rehabilitation Centre Policlinico Italia, Rome, Italy.

Cerebellar ataxia is associated with unsteady, stumbling gait, and affected patients report a high rate of falls, particularly during locomotor tasks. U-turns (180° turns while walking) require a high level of coordination in order to completely reverse the body trajectory during ongoing motion, and they are particularly challenging for patients with cerebellar ataxia. The aim of this study was to investigate the kinematic strategies adopted by ataxic patients when performing U-turns. Nine ataxic patients and ten controls were analysed as they performed 180° turns to the right while walking. We evaluated the following aspects: centre of mass velocity, body rotation, number of steps needed to complete the task, step length and step width, lower limb joint kinematics and segmental reorientation. Compared with controls, the ataxic patients showed slower deceleration and re-acceleration of the body, needed more steps to complete the U-turn, showed markedly reduced step length and were unable to modulate step width between steps. Furthermore, the patients adopted an extended joint rather than a flexed joint turning strategy, and the degree of knee flexion was found to be negatively correlated with the number of falls. Ataxic patients show an abnormal U-turn in comparison to age-matched healthy subjects. Some of the observed alterations are indicative of a primary deficit in limb-joint coordination, whereas others suggest that patients choose a compensatory strategy aimed at reducing the instability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-012-0441-zDOI Listing
August 2013

Turning strategies in patients with cerebellar ataxia.

Exp Brain Res 2012 Oct 29;222(1-2):65-75. Epub 2012 Jul 29.

Rehabilitation Centre Policlinico Italia, Rome, Italy.

Turning while walking is a common but demanding task requiring modification of the motor program from linear walking to lateral turning and it is associated with a high risk of falls. Patients with cerebellar ataxia have unstable gait and report a high incidence of falls. In the present study, we investigated the motor strategies adopted by ataxic patients when performing turns of different degrees and directions of rotation. Ten ataxic patients and 10 controls were analyzed while performing 30°/90° turns to the right/left. We recorded the number of completed turn tasks, the number of steps needed, and the time taken to complete the task, time-distance parameters and the onset of head, trunk and pelvis reorientation. The ataxic patients were less able to complete 90° turns, displayed a greater stride width, shorter step length, and greater number of steps when turning, and were unable to flexibly adjust their stride width across the turning task. The duration of the turning task and of the segmental reorientation did not differ from control values. Our findings indicate that ataxic patients have more difficulties in performing large turns and adopt a series of compensatory strategy aimed at reducing the instability associated with turning, such as enlarge the base of support, shorten the step length, increase the number of steps, and use the "multi-step" rather than the "spin-turn" strategy. Given the high risk of falls related to this task, it would be useful to include turning training in the rehabilitation protocol of ataxic patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-012-3197-2DOI Listing
October 2012

Primacy of warmth versus competence: a motivated bias?

J Soc Psychol 2012 Jul-Aug;152(4):417-35

University of Milan-Bicocca, Faculty of Psychology, Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1-20126 Milan, Italy.

In line with previous results that challenge the traditional primacy of warmth over competence in outgroup perception, we propose to bridge elements from stereotype content model and social identity theory: Perceivers will use the competence and warmth dimensions differentially when interpreting higher or lower status outgroup members' behavior. We test the hypothesis that the dimension that is less favorable for the outgroup and more favorable for the ingroup will be used. In particular, we investigate whether the warmth dimension would better predict the interpretation of higher status outgroup members' behavior than the competence dimension, whereas the competence dimension would better predict the interpretation of lower status outgroup members' behavior than the warmth dimension. Two studies separately test these effects. Results suggest the existence of a motivated bias in interpreting outgroup members' behavior, especially when there is ingroup identification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2011.623735DOI Listing
August 2012

Adaptive behaviour of the spinal cord in the transition from quiet stance to walking.

BMC Neurosci 2012 Jul 16;13:80. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Polo Pontino, Latina, Italy.

Background: Modulation of nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) excitability was evaluated during gait initiation in 10 healthy subjects to investigate how load- and movement-related joint inputs activate lower spinal centres in the transition from quiet stance to walking. A motion analysis system integrated with a surface EMG device was used to acquire kinematic, kinetic and EMG variables. Starting from a quiet stance, subjects were asked to walk forward, at their natural speed. The sural nerve was stimulated and EMG responses were recorded from major hip, knee and ankle muscles. Gait initiation was divided into four subphases based on centre of pressure and centre of mass behaviours, while joint displacements were used to categorise joint motion as flexion or extension. The reflex parameters were measured and compared between subphases and in relation to the joint kinematics.

Results: The NWR was found to be subphase-dependent. NWR excitability was increased in the hip and knee flexor muscles of the starting leg, just prior to the occurrence of any movement, and in the knee flexor muscles of the same leg as soon as it was unloaded. The NWR was hip joint kinematics-dependent in a crossed manner. The excitability of the reflex was enhanced in the extensor muscles of the standing leg during the hip flexion of the starting leg, and in the hip flexors of the standing leg during the hip extension of the starting leg. No notable reflex modulation was observed in the ankle muscles.

Conclusions: Our findings show that the NWR is modulated during the gait initiation phase. Leg unloading and hip joint motion are the main sources of the observed modulation and work in concert to prepare and assist the starting leg in the first step while supporting the contralateral leg, thereby possibly predisposing the lower limbs to the cyclical pattern of walking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-13-80DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445852PMC
July 2012

Molecular dynamics reveal that isoDGR-containing cyclopeptides are true αvβ3 antagonists unable to promote integrin allostery and activation.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2012 Jul 20;51(31):7702-5. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Biomolecular NMR Laboratory c/o Ospedale S. Raffaele via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy.

Ain't got that swing(-out): The cyclopeptide isoDGR is emerging as a new αvβ3 integrin binding motif. Agreement between the results of computational and biochemical studies reveals that isoDGR-containing cyclopeptides are true αvβ3 integrin antagonists that block αvβ3 in its inactive conformation (see scheme). isoDGR-based ligands may give αvβ3 antagonists without paradoxical effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201202032DOI Listing
July 2012

Biomechanical evaluation of supermarket cashiers before and after a redesign of the checkout counter.

Ergonomics 2012 29;55(6):650-69. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Department of Occupational Medicine, INAIL, Via Fontana Candida 1, Monte Porzio Catone, Rome, 00040, Italy.

An experiment was carried out on supermarket cashiers to evaluate the time, kinematic and electromyographic changes, in both sitting and standing positions, following the redesign of a checkout counter. The novelty of the prototype checkout counter is a disk wheel placed in the bagging area, which is designed to avoid the cashier having to manually push products along the bagging area. The kinematic evaluation was based on the upper limb and trunk range of motions (RoM). The electromyographic parameters assessed were mean and maximum muscular activations. Three factors were taken into account: design (before and after redesign), posture (standing or sitting) and bagging area (anterior or posterior). The results show that the RoM values are lowest after the intervention and in the standing position. Mean and maximum muscular activation patterns are similar. Differences related to the bagging area in which the goods were released also emerged. The disk wheel represents a valid aid for reducing biomechanical overload in cashiers; the standing position is biomechanically more advantageous. Practitioner Summary: EMG and optoelectronic motion analysis systems are useful for the quantitative assessment of the effects of the redesign of the workplace biomechanical risk. Our results suggest that a disk wheel positioned in the bagging area reduces the biomechanical risk for cashiers and increases time spent resting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2012.659762DOI Listing
September 2012

Planned gait termination in cerebellar ataxias.

Cerebellum 2012 Dec;11(4):896-904

Rehabilitation Centre, Policlinico Italia, Piazza del Campidano 6, 00162, Rome, Italy.

This study set out to characterise the pattern of planned gait termination in a sample of patients with cerebellar diseases. The gait termination phase was recorded, using a motion analysis system, in ten patients with primary degenerative cerebellar disease and in ten controls. The subjects were instructed to walk at different gait speeds and to stop in response to an acoustic signal. Time-distance parameters (step length, step width, double support duration, time-to-slow, stopping time, centre of mass velocity and number of steps) and stability index-related parameters (distance between the "extrapolated centre of mass" (XCoM) and centre of pressure (CoP)) were measured at both matched and self-selected gait speeds. At matched speed the patients, compared with the controls, showed a reduced step length, a greater first and second step width and used more steps to stop. At self-selected speed, almost all the parameters differed from those of the controls. Furthermore, the patients showed an increased stability index, suggesting that they need to maintain a "safety margin" between the XCoM and CoP during the gait termination. Patients develop a series of compensatory strategies in order to preserve balance during planned gait termination, e.g. increasing their step width and number of steps. Ataxic patients need to maintain a safety margin in order to avoid instability when stopping. Given the potential risk of falls when stopping, walking ataxic patients may benefit from a rehabilitation treatment focused on preserving and improving their ability to terminate gait safely.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-011-0348-0DOI Listing
December 2012

Metabolomics of B to plasma cell differentiation.

J Proteome Res 2011 Sep 29;10(9):4165-76. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Division of Genetics and Cell Biology, DiBiT, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milano, Italy.

When small B lymphocytes bind antigen in the context of suitable signals, a profound geno-proteomic metamorphosis is activated that generates antibody-secreting cells. To study the metabolic changes associated with this differentiation program, we compared the exometabolome of differentiating murine B lymphoma cells and primary B cells by monodimensional proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry coupled to liquid chromatography. Principal component analysis, a multivariate statistical analysis, highlighted metabolic hallmarks of the sequential differentiation phases discriminating between the proliferation and antibody secreting phases and revealing novel metabolic pathways. During proliferation, lactate production increased together with consumption of essential amino acids; massive Ig secretion was paralleled by alanine and glutamate production, glutamine being used as carbon and energy sources. Notably, ethanol and 5'-methylthioadenosine were produced during the last phase of protein secretion and the proliferative burst, respectively. Our metabolomics results are in agreement with previous genoproteomics studies. Thus, metabolic profiling of extracellular medium is a useful tool to characterize the functional state of differentiating B cells and to identify novel underlying metabolic pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr200328fDOI Listing
September 2011

Use of metadynamics in the design of isoDGR-based αvβ3 antagonists to fine-tune the conformational ensemble.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2011 Feb 18;50(8):1832-6. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Biomolecular NMR Laboratory c/o Center of Genomic and Bioinformatics, S. Raffaele Scientific Institute via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201007091DOI Listing
February 2011

The CCPN Metabolomics Project: a fast protocol for metabolite identification by 2D-NMR.

Bioinformatics 2011 Mar 6;27(6):885-6. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Biomolecular NMR Laboratory, Dulbecco Telethon Institute c/o San Raffaele Scientific Institute - DIBIT, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy.

Summary: We present here the freely available Metabolomics Project resource specifically designed to work under the CcpNmr Analysis program produced by CCPN (Collaborative Computing Project for NMR) (Vranken et al., 2005, The CCPN data model for NMR spectroscopy: development of a software pipeline. Proteins, 59, 687-696). The project consists of a database of assigned 1D and 2D spectra of many common metabolites. The project aims to help the user to analyze and assign 1D and 2D NMR spectra of unknown metabolite mixtures. Spectra of unknown mixtures can be easily superimposed and compared with the database spectra, thus facilitating their assignment and identification.

Availability: The CCPN Metabolomics Project, together with an annotated example dataset, is freely available via: http://www.ccpn.ac.uk/metabolomics/.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btr013DOI Listing
March 2011

2D TR-NOESY experiments interrogate and rank ligand-receptor interactions in living human cancer cells.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2010 Feb;49(6):1071-4

Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Laboratorio di RMN biomolecolare, Centro di Genomica, Bioinformatica e Biostatistica, S. Raffaele Scientific Institute, via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milano, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200905941DOI Listing
February 2010

Pronorm and antinorm deviants: a test of the subjective group dynamics model.

J Soc Psychol 2008 Oct;148(5):641-4

University of Catania.

The authors replicated the study by D. Abrams, J. M. Marques, N. Bown, and M. Henson (2000, Study 2), performed to test the subjective group dynamics model (J. M. Marques, D. Abrams, D. Paez, & C. Martinez-Taboada, 1998). Participants were students enrolled in the psychology department at an Italian university. The present study considered the relationship between students and professors, and the attitude object was limited enrollment for admission to the department. Participants evaluated either in-group or out-group members. Findings replicated those of Abrams et al., except the in-group pronorm deviant was perceived to be less typical and evaluated less positively than the normative members. This finding suggests that, during an intergroup conflict, perception of the typicality of deviants exaggerating the in-group norms--and thus their evaluations--may increase as long as deviance is not perceived to be too accentuated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/SOCP.148.5.641-644DOI Listing
October 2008

Structural basis for the interaction of isoDGR with the RGD-binding site of alphavbeta3 integrin.

J Biol Chem 2008 Jul 13;283(28):19757-68. Epub 2008 May 13.

Dulbecco Telethon Institute Biomolecular NMR Laboratory c/o S. Raffaele Scientific Institute, 20132 Milan, Italy.

Asparagine deamidation at the NGR sequence in the 5th type I repeat of fibronectin (FN-I5) generates isoDGR, an alphavbeta3 integrin-binding motif regulating endothelial cell adhesion and proliferation. By NMR and molecular dynamics studies, we analyzed the structure of CisoDGRC (isoDGR-2C), a cyclic beta-peptide mimicking the FN-I5 site, and compared it with NGR, RGD, or DGR-containing cyclopeptides. Docking experiments show that isoDGR, exploiting an inverted orientation as compared with RGD, favorably interacts with the RGD-binding site of alphavbeta3, both recapitulating canonical RGD-alphavbeta3 contacts and establishing additional polar interactions. Conversely, NGR and DGR motifs lack the fundamental pharmacophoric requirements for high receptor affinity. Therefore, unlike NGR and DGR, isoDGR is a new natural recognition motif of the RGD-binding pocket of alphavbeta3. These findings contribute to explain the different functional properties of FN-I5 before and after deamidation, and provide support for the hypothesis that NGR --> isoDGR transition can work as a molecular timer for activating latent integrin-binding sites in proteins, thus regulating protein function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M710273200DOI Listing
July 2008
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