Publications by authors named "Tiziana Grassi"

34 Publications

Early-Life Exposure to Environmental Air Pollution and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of Available Evidence.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021 01 29;18(3). Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technology, University of Salento, via Monteroni 165, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has rapidly increased globally. Genetic and environmental factors both contribute to the development of ASD. Several studies showed linkage between prenatal, early postnatal air pollution exposure and the risk of developing ASD. We reviewed the available literature concerning the relationship between early-life exposure to air pollutants and ASD onset in childhood. We searched on Medline and Scopus for cohort or case-control studies published in English from 1977 to 2020. A total of 20 articles were selected for the review. We found a strong association between maternal exposure to particulate matter (PM) during pregnancy or in the first years of the children's life and the risk of the ASD. This association was found to be stronger with PM and less evident with the other pollutants. Current evidence suggest that pregnancy is the period in which exposure to environmental pollutants seems to be most impactful concerning the onset of ASD in children. Air pollution should be considered among the emerging risk factors for ASD. Further epidemiological and toxicological studies should address molecular pathways involved in the development of ASD and determine specific cause-effect associations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031204DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908547PMC
January 2021

IgM and IgG Profiles Reveal Peculiar Features of Humoral Immunity Response to SARS-CoV-2 Infection.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021 02 1;18(3). Epub 2021 Feb 1.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is globally a major healthcare threat. There is little information regarding the mechanisms and roles of the humoral response in SARS-CoV-2 infection. The aim of this study was to analyze the antibody levels (IgM and IgG) by chemiluminescence immunoassay in 54 subjects positive to SARS-CoV-2 swab test in relation to their clinical status (whether asymptomatic, pauci-symptomatic or with mild, sever or critical symptoms), the time from the symptom onset, sex, age, and comorbidities. Overall, the presence of comorbidities and the age of subjects were associated with their clinical status. The IgG concentrations were significantly higher in patients who developed critical and severe symptoms and seemed to be independent from age, sex and comorbidities. IgG titers peaked around day 60, and then began gradually to drop, decreasing by approximately 50% on the 180th day, while the IgM titers progressively decreased as early as the tenth day, but they could be detected even at later time points. Despite the small number of individuals, some peculiar characteristics of the humoral response in COVID-19 emerged. We observed a high inter-individual variability, an ephemeral IgG half-life in several patients, and a persistence of IgM in others.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031318DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908175PMC
February 2021

The influence of lifestyle factors on miRNA expression and signal pathways: a review.

Epigenomics 2021 Jan 23;13(2):145-164. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council, Branch of Lecce, c/o Ecotekne via Monteroni, Lecce, 73100, Italy.

The term 'lifestyle' includes different factors that contribute to the maintenance of a good health status. Increasing evidences suggest that lifestyle factors may influence epigenetic mechanisms, such as miRNAs expression. The dysregulation of miRNAs can modify the expression of genes and molecular pathways that may lead to functional alterations. This review summarizes human studies highlighting that diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption may affect the miRNA machinery and several biological functions. Most miRNAs are involved in molecular pathways that influence inflammation, cell cycle regulation and carcinogenesis resulting in the onset or progression of pathological conditions. Investigating these interactions will be pivotal for understanding the etiology of pathologic processes, the potential new treatment strategies and for preventing diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2020-0289DOI Listing
January 2021

Microbiological and Chemical Assessment of Wastewater Discharged by Infiltration Trenches in Fractured and Karstified Limestone (SCA.Re.S. Project 2019-2020).

Pathogens 2020 Nov 30;9(12). Epub 2020 Nov 30.

National Research Council (CNR), Water Research Institute (IRSA), via F. De Blasio, 5, 70132 Bari, Italy.

This study investigated the environmental contamination of groundwater as a consequence of the discharge of treated wastewater into the soil. The investigation focused on a wastewater treatment plant located in an area fractured by karst in the Salento peninsula (Apulia, Italy). Water samples were collected at four sites (raw wastewater, treated wastewater, infiltration trench, and monitoring well), monthly from May to December 2019 (with the exception of August), and were tested for (1) panel of bacteria; (2) enteric viruses; and (3) chemical substances. A gradual reduction in the concentration of bacteria, viruses and contaminants of emerging concern was observed across the profile of soil fissured by karst. All monitored bacteria were absent from the monitoring well, except for . Pepper mild mottle virus and adenovirus were detected at all sampling sites. Personal care products and X-ray contrast media showed the greatest decrease in concentration from infiltration trench to the monitoring well, while the highest residual concentrations in the monitoring well were found for anticonvulsants (78.5%), antimicrobials (41.3%), and antipsychotic drugs (38.6%). Our results show that parameters provided by current law may not always be sufficient to evaluate the sanitary risk relating to the discharge of treated wastewater to the soil.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9121010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759865PMC
November 2020

Direct detection of free vitamin D as a tool to assess risk conditions associated with chronic plaque psoriasis.

J Prev Med Hyg 2020 Sep 6;61(3):E489-E495. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy.

Introduction: Psoriasis is a major public health problem that results in high social and health costs. New approaches and methods are required to identify any conditions related to the disease and comorbidity development. The vitamin D deficiency is associated to psoriasis and could play an important role in its pathogenesis. However, the serum level of vitamin D is currently measured as total vitamin D, which is affected by wide variability. Therefore, the determination of the free form could be more significant, since it is independent of confounding factors. A cross-sectional study was performed to assess the association between chronic plaque psoriasis and serum level of free vitamin D, detected by a direct analytical method.

Methods: The levels of bioavailable vitamin D, total vitamin D and other metabolic parameters whose homeostasis is regulated by vitamin D were evaluated in 72 psoriasis patients and in 48 healthy controls. A direct immunoassay method was used to measure serum free vitamin D level. Analysis of covariance was performed to calculate estimated marginal means (EMM) and 95% confidence interval (CI), after adjustment for age, sex and BMI, within the two groups.

Results: Patients showed an EMM of 5.526 ± 0.271pg/ml, 95% CI 4.989-6.063; while controls an EMM of 6.776 ± 0.271 pg/ml, 95% CI 6.115-7.437.

Conclusions: Chronic plaque psoriasis patients exhibited a serum level of free vitamin D lower than controls. The direct immunoassay method could represent a useful tool to assess vitamin D status and identify a risk condition associated with the onset of the pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15167/2421-4248/jpmh2020.61.3.1482DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7595072PMC
September 2020

COVID-19, a viral endocrinological disease?

Eur J Intern Med 2020 Jul 5;77:156-157. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2020.06.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7274643PMC
July 2020

The expression of microRNAs and exposure to environmental contaminants related to human health: a review.

Int J Environ Health Res 2020 May 12:1-23. Epub 2020 May 12.

National Research Council, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Branch of Lecce, Lecce, Italy.

Environmental contaminants exposure may lead to detrimental changes to the microRNAs (miRNAs) expression resulting in several health effects. miRNAs, small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression, have multiple transcript targets and thereby regulate several signalling molecules. Even a minor alteration in the abundance of one miRNA can have deep effects on global gene expression. Altered patterns of miRNAs can be responsible for changes linked to various health outcomes, suggesting that specific miRNAs are activated in pathophysiological processes. In this review, we provide an overview of studies investigating the impact of air pollution, organic chemicals, and heavy metals on miRNA expression and the potential biologic effects on humans.: AHRR, aryl-hydrocarbon receptor repressor; AHR, aryl-hydrocarbon receptor; As, arsenic; BCL2, B-cell lymphoma 2; BCL2L11, B-cell lymphoma 2 like 11; BCL6, B-cell lymphoma 6; BPA, bisphenol A; CVD, cardiovascular diseases; CD40, cluster of differentiation 40; CCND1, Cyclin D1; CDKN1A, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A; Cr, chromium; CTBP1, C-terminal binding protein 1; CXCL12, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 12; DAZAP1, deleted in azoospermia associated protein 1; DEP, diesel exhaust particles; EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor; eNOS, endothelial nitric oxide synthase; EVs, extracellular vesicles; FAK, focal adhesion kinase; FAS, fas cell surface death receptor; FOXO, forkhead box O; HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin; Hg, mercury; HLA-A, human leukocyte antigen A; HMGB, high-mobility group protein B; IFNAR2, interferon alpha receptor subunit 2; IL-6, interleukin-6; IRAK1, interleukin 1 receptor associated kinase 1; JAK/STAT, janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; miRNAs, microRNAs; MVs, microvesicles; NCDs, noncommunicable diseases; NFAT, nuclear factor of activated T cells; NFkB, nuclear factor kappa B; NRF2, nuclear factor, erythroid-derived 2; NRG3, neuregulin 3; O, ozone; OP, organophosphorus pesticides; PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Pb, lead; PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls; PDCD4, programmed cell death 4; PDGFB, platelet derived growth factor subunit beta; PDGFR, platelet-derived growth factor receptor; PI3K/Akt, phosphoinositide-3-kinase/protein kinase B; PKA, protein kinase A; PM, particulate matter; PRKCQ, protein kinase C theta; PTEN, phosphatase and tensin homolog; SORT1, sortilin 1; TGFβ, transforming growth factor-β; TLR, toll-like receptor; TNF, tumor necrosis factors; TRAF1, tumor necrosis factors-receptor associated factors 1; TRAP, traffic-related air pollution; TREM1, triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1; TRIAP1, TP53 regulated inhibitor of apoptosis 1; VCAM-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1; VEGFA, vascular endothelial growth factor A; XRCC2, X-ray repair cross complementing 2; YBX2, Y-box-binding protein 2; ZEB1, zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1; ZEB2, zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 2; 8-OH-dG, 8-hydroxy-guanine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09603123.2020.1757043DOI Listing
May 2020

Micronucleus Frequency in Exfoliated Buccal Cells of Children Living in an Industrialized Area of Apulia (Italy).

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020 02 13;17(4). Epub 2020 Feb 13.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Micronuclei (MN) are biomarkers of early biological effect often used for detecting DNA damage in human population exposed to genotoxic agents. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of MN in exfoliated buccal cells of children living in an industrialized (impacted) area compared with that found in children living in a control area without significant anthropogenic impacts. A total of 462 6-8-year-old children (206 in the impacted area, 256 in the control area) attending primary school were enrolled. A questionnaire was administered to the parents of the recruited children to obtain information about personal data, lifestyles, and food habits of their children. Atmospheric particulate fractions were collected near the involved schools to assess the level of environmental exposure of the children. The presence of MN was highlighted in 68.4% of children living in the impacted area with a mean MN frequency of 0.66‱ ± 0.61‱. MN positivity and frequency were significantly lower in the control area (37.1% and 0.27‱ ± 0.43‱, respectively). The frequency of MN was positively associated with quasi-ultrafine particulate matter (PM), traffic near the home, and consuming barbecued food; while adherence to the Mediterranean diet and practicing sport were negatively associated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041208DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068596PMC
February 2020

Adherence to Mediterranean diet of children living in small Southern Italian villages.

Int J Food Sci Nutr 2020 Jun 21;71(4):490-499. Epub 2019 Oct 21.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy.

A cross-sectional study was conducted in the primary schools of five small villages of Salento Peninsula to evaluate the adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (MD) of 282 6-8-years old children in relation to lifestyles and socio-economic factors. The parents of children completed a self-administered questionnaire to evaluate the prevalence of personal, behavioural and socio-economic factors of their sons. Children's anthropometric measurements were also taken. The adherence to the MD was assessed using the Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for Children and Adolescents (KIDMED). The chi-square test was used to detect any differences among groups of children. Overall, 27.0% of children showed low adherence to the MD (KIDMED ≤3), 59.6% medium adherence (KIDMED 4-7) and 13.5% high adherence (KIDMED ≥8). The adherence to the MD was associated with the educational level (whether graduated or not) of the mother and the occupational status (whether employed or not) of both parents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09637486.2019.1679725DOI Listing
June 2020

Health inequalities: a Research Positioning Exercise at the National Institute of Health, Italy.

Eur J Public Health 2019 10;29(5):943-947

Presidenza, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italia.

Background: The Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, ISS) considers health inequalities (HI) an important area of activity. As the scientific and technical body of the Ministry of Health and the National Health Service, ISS may play a key role to reduce HI. In order to enable ISS in addressing the new and crucial HI challenge, a Research Positioning Exercise was designed and implemented.

Methods: The Exercise included: (i) workshop to strengthen the institutional interest in the field of HI; (ii) review and analysis of ISS publications (years 2000-2017) to identify HI research topics; (iii) survey among ISS researchers regarding main research challenges to address HI in the coming years; and (iv) analysis of input on research challenges from HI international experts.

Results: The results of this Exercise suggest that the following points should be included in the future ISS agenda planning: (i) themes which ISS should continue working on (e.g. migrants/vulnerable groups); (ii) themes to be improved: (a) relationship between social determinants and mechanism of HI generation and (b) relationship between risk factors exposure and social determinants; and (iii) new themes to be addressed: (a) mechanisms underlying the resilience observed in Italy; (b) new socioeconomic indicators for HI monitoring; and (c) evidence-based policies aimed at reducing HI.

Conclusion: Findings of this Exercise show that ISS researchers identified relevant areas, addressing inequalities in addressing the health. Because of ISS structural peculiarity that includes multidisciplinary expertise, the ISS could provide a significant contribution to HI research challenges and knowledge gaps.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckz115DOI Listing
October 2019

Health Risk Associated with Exposure to PM and Benzene in Three Italian Towns.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018 08 6;15(8). Epub 2018 Aug 6.

Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology, University of Salento, via Monteroni 165, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Air pollution in urban areas is a major concern as it negatively affects the health of a large number of people. The purpose of this study was to assess the inhalation health risk for exposure to PM and benzene of the populations living in three Italian cities. Data regarding PM and benzene daily measured by "traffic" stations and "background" stations in Torino, Perugia, and Lecce during 2014 and 2015 were compared to the limits indicated in the Directive 2008/50/EC. In addition, an inhalation risk analysis for exposure to benzene was performed for adults and children by applying the standard United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) methodology. The levels of PM detected in Torino exceeded the legal limits in both years with an increased mean concentration >10 µg/m³ comparing with background station. Benzene concentrations never exceeded the legislative target value. The increased cancer risk (ICR) for children exposed to benzene was greater than 1 × 10 only in the city of Torino, while for adults, the ICR was higher than 1 × 10 in all the cities. The results suggest the need for emission reduction policies to preserve human health from continuous and long exposure to air pollutants. A revision of legal limits would also be recommended.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081672DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6121301PMC
August 2018

Micronuclei in Exfoliated Buccal Cells of Children Living in a Cluster Area of Salento (Southern Italy) with a High Incidence of Lung Cancer: The IMP.AIR Study.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018 08 5;15(8). Epub 2018 Aug 5.

Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology, University of Salento, via Monteroni 165, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

During the years 2014⁻2016 the University of Salento performed the "Impact of Air Quality on Health of Residents in the Municipalities of Cutrofiano, Galatina, Sogliano Cavour, Soleto and Sternatia" (IMP.AIR) study, an epidemiological-molecular research project aiming to evaluate early DNA damage in children living in an area of Salento with high incidence of lung cancer among the male population. One hundred and twenty-two children aged 6⁻8 years attending primary school were enrolled and the frequency of micronucleated cells (MNC) in oral mucosa was evaluated. In addition, a questionnaire was administered to parents to obtain information about personal data, anthropometric characteristics and lifestyles (physical activity, food habits, family context) of the children and perform a multivariate analysis to detect any factors associated with MNC occurrence. Data on airborne pollutants detected in the study area were acquired by the Regional Agency for the Environmental Protection. The presence of MNC was highlighted in about 42% of children with a mean MNC frequency of 0.49‰. The frequency of MNC was associated to obesity, consumption of red or processed meat and having a mother who smokes. Moreover, the prevalence of biomarkers was higher than in another area of Salento not included in the cluster area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081659DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6121539PMC
August 2018

Buccal micronucleus cytome assay in primary school children: A descriptive analysis of the MAPEC_LIFE multicenter cohort study.

Int J Hyg Environ Health 2018 07 18;221(6):883-892. Epub 2018 Jun 18.

Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Science and Public Health, University of Brescia, 11 Viale Europa, 25123, Brescia, Italy.

Background: Recent data support the hypothesis that genetic damage occurring early in life during childhood can play an important role in the development of chronic diseases in adulthood, including cancer.

Objectives: The objective of this paper, part of the MAPEC_LIFE project, is to describe the frequency of micronuclei and meta-nuclear alterations in exfoliated buccal cells of 6-8year-old Italian children recruited in five Italian towns (i.e., Brescia, Torino, Pisa, Perugia and Lecce) with different air pollution levels.

Methods: About 200 children per town were recruited from primary schools. Biological samples were collected twice from the same children, in two different seasons (winter 2014-15 and late spring 2015). Cytogenetic damage was evaluated by the buccal micronucleus cytome assay.

Results: Overall,n = 1046 children represent the final cohort of the MAPEC_LIFE study. On the whole, the results showed a higher mean MN frequency in winter (0.42 ± 0.54‰) than late-spring (0.22 ± 0.34‰). MN frequency observed among the five Italian towns showed a trend that follows broadly the levels of air pollution in Italy: the highest MN frequency was observed in Brescia during both seasons, the lowest in Lecce (winter) and Perugia (late-spring).

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, the number of recruited children included in the analysis (n = 1046) is the highest compared to previous studies evaluating the frequency of MN in exfoliated buccal cells so far. MN frequency was associated with winter season and living in towns at various levels of air pollution, suggesting an important role of this exposure in determining early cytogenetic effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.05.014DOI Listing
July 2018

Enteric Viruses and Fecal Bacteria Indicators to Assess Groundwater Quality and Suitability for Irrigation.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2017 05 24;14(6). Epub 2017 May 24.

Department of Biomedical Science and Human Oncology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy.

According to Italian Ministerial Decree No. 185 of 12 June 2003, water is considered suitable for irrigation if levels of fecal bacteria (i.e., and ) are within certain parameters. The detection of other microorganisms is not required. The aim of this study is to determine the bacteriological quality of groundwater used for irrigation and the occurrence of enteric viruses (Norovirus, Enterovirus, Rotavirus, Hepatovirus A), and to compare the presence of viruses with the fecal bacteria indicators. A total of 182 wells was analyzed. Widespread fecal contamination of Apulian aquifers was detected (141 wells; 77.5%) by the presence of fecal bacteria (i.e., , , total coliforms, and enterococci). Considering bacteria included in Ministerial Decree No. 185, the water from 35 (19.2%) wells was unsuitable for irrigation purposes. Among 147 wells with water considered suitable, Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Enterovirus were detected in 23 (15.6%) wells. No Hepatovirus A was isolated. Consequently, 58 wells (31.9%) posed a potential infectious risk for irrigation use. This study revealed the inadequacy of fecal bacteria indicators to predict the occurrence of viruses in groundwater and it is the first in Italy to describe the presence of human rotaviruses in well water used for irrigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060558DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486244PMC
May 2017

Lifestyles and socio-cultural factors among children aged 6-8 years from five Italian towns: the MAPEC_LIFE study cohort.

BMC Public Health 2017 03 7;17(1):233. Epub 2017 Mar 7.

Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Sciences and Public Health, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Background: Lifestyles profoundly determine the quality of an individual's health and life since his childhood. Many diseases in adulthood are avoidable if health-risk behaviors are identified and improved at an early stage of life. The aim of the present research was to characterize a cohort of children aged 6-8 years selected in order to perform an epidemiological molecular study (the MAPEC_LIFE study), investigate lifestyles of the children that could have effect on their health status, and assess possible association between lifestyles and socio-cultural factors.

Methods: A questionnaire composed of 148 questions was administered in two different seasons to parents of children attending 18 primary schools in five Italian cities (Torino, Brescia, Pisa, Perugia and Lecce) to obtain information regarding the criteria for exclusion from the study, demographic, anthropometric and health information on the children, as well as some aspects on their lifestyles and parental characteristics. The results were analyzed in order to assess the frequency of specific conditions among the different seasons and cities and the association between lifestyles and socio-economic factors.

Results: The final cohort was composed of 1,164 children (50.9 boys, 95.4% born in Italy). Frequency of some factors appeared different in terms of the survey season (physical activity in the open air, the ways of cooking certain foods) and among the various cities (parents' level of education and rate of employment, sport, traffic near the home, type of heating, exposure to passive smoking, ways of cooking certain foods). Exposure to passive smoking and cooking fumes, obesity, residence in areas with heavy traffic, frequency of outdoor play and consumption of barbecued and fried foods were higher among children living in families with low educational and/or occupational level while children doing sports and consuming toasted bread were more frequent in families with high socio-economic level.

Conclusions: The socio-economic level seems to affect the lifestyles of children enrolled in the study including those that could cause health effects. Many factors are linked to the geographical area and may depend on environmental, cultural and social aspects of the city of residence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4142-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339991PMC
March 2017

Socio-Economic and Environmental Factors Associated with Overweight and Obesity in Children Aged 6-8 Years Living in Five Italian Cities (the MAPEC_LIFE Cohort).

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2016 10 11;13(10). Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Sciences and Public Health, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, Brescia 25123, Italy.

The prevalence of obesity among Italian children has reached such alarming levels as to require detailed studies of the causes of the phenomenon. A cross-sectional study was carried out in order to assess the weight status of 1164 Italian children aged 6-8 years (the Monitoring Air Pollution Effects on Children for Supporting Public Health Policy (MAPEC_LIFE) cohort) and to identify any associations between selected socio-economic and environmental factors and overweight/obesity. The data were obtained by means of a questionnaire given to parents, and any associations were examined by binomial logistic regression analyses. Overweight was found to be positively associated with male gender, parents of non-Italian origin, and parents who smoke, and negatively associated with the parents' level of education and employment. In addition, the frequency of overweight varied in relation to the geographical area of residence, with a greater prevalence of overweight children in the cities of central-southern Italy. This study highlights the need to implement appropriate obesity prevention programs in Italy, which should include educational measures concerning lifestyle for parents from the earliest stages of their child's life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13101002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086741PMC
October 2016

Placental aging and oxidation damage in a tissue micro-array model: an immunohistochemistry study.

Histochem Cell Biol 2016 Aug 22;146(2):191-204. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, 33100, Udine, Italy.

To evaluate the expression of markers correlated with cellular senescence and DNA damage (8-hydroxy-2'-deoxy-guanosine (8-OHdG), p53, p21, APE1/Ref-1 (APE1), interleukin (IL-6 and IL-8) in placentas from healthy and pathologic pregnancies. This retrospective study considered a placental tissue micro-array containing 92 controls from different gestational ages and 158 pathological cases including preeclampsia (PE), HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count), small for gestational age (SGA) fetuses, and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) occurring at different gestational ages. In this study, we demonstrated a significant influence of gestational age on the expression in the trophoblast of 8-OHdG, p53, p21, APE1, and IL-6. In placentas of cases affected by PE, HELLP, or IUGR, there was an increased expression of 8-OHdG, p53, APE1, and IL-6 compared to controls (only IL-8 was significantly decreased in cases). In both groups of pathology between 22- and 34-week gestation and after 34-week gestation, APE1 levels were higher in the trophoblast of women affected by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy than women carrying an IUGR fetus. The cytoplasmic expression of 8-OHdG was increased in placentas in IUGR cases compared to PE or HELLP pregnancies. In cases after 34-week gestation, p21 was higher in SGA and IUGR than in controls and late PE. Moreover, p53 was increased after 34-week gestation in IUGR pregnancies. Placentas from pathological pregnancies had an altered expression of 8-OHdG, p53, p21, APE1, IL-6, and IL-8. The alterations of intracellular pathways involving these elements may be the cause or the consequence of placental dysfunction, but in any case reflect an impaired placental function, possibly due to increased aging velocity in pathologic cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00418-016-1435-6DOI Listing
August 2016

Assessment of lifestyle and eating habits among undergraduate students in northern Italy.

Ann Ist Super Sanita 2015 ;51(2):154-61

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, Lecce, Italy 

Aim And Methodology: Dietary habits of university students were analyzed in order to investigate any differences between students living at and away from home. Two hundred and fifty-eight undergraduate students attending University of Ferrara completed a self-administered questionnaire on demographic characteristics, food frequency consumption habits and body weight perception.

Results: Students living at home practiced more sport and consumed more frequently raw and cooked vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, fresh fruit, eggs, bread/cereals. Conversely, students living away from home consumed more often packaged/ready food, beer and spirits, milk and chips. The majority of students living alone reported a modification of dietary habits since leaving family. Furthermore they perceived to have a weight condition different from normal in a greater extent than students living with family.

Discussion: Students living alone encountered more difficulties in adopting a healthy diet so it would be desirable to adopt nutritional educational interventions on university students, usually neglected by these measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4415/ANN_15_02_14DOI Listing
December 2016

Mismatch repair system in endometriotic tissue and eutopic endometrium of unaffected women.

Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2015 1;8(2):1867-77. Epub 2015 Feb 1.

Institute of Pathology, University of Udine 33100 Udine, Italy.

Objective: To test the immunohistochemical staining pattern of some mismatch repair (MMR) system proteins in endometriotic tissue (ET) and eutopic endometrium.

Methods: This was a retrospective study conducted at the Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology Departments of the Udine University Hospital. We analyzed 528 samples obtained from 246 patients affected by endometriosis and 71 samples from 71 patients with normal endometrium. A tissue microarray model was used to analyze the immunohistochemical expression of MMR system proteins.

Results: Significant loss of MMR proteins was found in the stromal component of ETs. We found MSH2 to be expressed at a higher level than any other MMR system proteins in eutopic endometrium and ETs, to be significantly correlated to Ki-67 expression in both stromal and glandular components of ETs, and to be expressed at a significantly higher level in ETs than in eutopic endometrium. When considering the subgroup of endometriosis with high recurrence rate and glandular cytoplasmic staining for aurora A kinase, we found MMR proteins expressed at a significantly higher level in these ETs than in other ETs and eutopic endometrium of unaffected women.

Conclusions: We found significant loss of MMR proteins (known to be associated with microsatellite instability) in the stromal component of ETs. The group of ETs with glandular cytoplasmic staining for aurora A kinase had higher MMR protein expression, suggesting an increased activity of this system. Our result suggests a novel role of increased MSH2 expression in cellular proliferation of endometriosis.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4396318PMC
February 2016

Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and influenza in children with respiratory infections in Alexandria, Egypt.

J Infect Dev Ctries 2014 Mar 13;8(3):379-83. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

National Public Health Institute, Rome, Italy.

Introduction: Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are the leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality worldwide. Information about etiological agents of ARI in developing countries is still limited.

Methodology: Throat swabs collected from children hospitalized with ARI between December 2009 and May 2010 were investigated for Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and influenza viruses by molecular analyses.

Results: This study conducted in Alexandria, Egypt, was designed to determine the prevalence of several microorganisms in 156 children hospitalized with ARI. Overall, samples from 76 individuals (49%) were found to be positive for at least one pathogen, and 10 of them were positive for two agents. C. pneumoniae was the most commonly detected agent, followed by M. pneumonia and H1N1 pandemic influenza virus. Positivity for C. pneumoniae was associated with colder months and mild disease of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis.

Conclusions: Further studies are needed to identify other possible agents of ARI (e.g., RSV, adenoviruses, other bacterial infections) in this population and to better understand the causal role of atypical bacteria detected in respiratory samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3855/jidc.4458DOI Listing
March 2014

Impact of stinging jellyfish proliferations along south Italian coasts: human health hazards, treatment and social costs.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2014 Feb 27;11(3):2488-503. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Lecce 73100, Italy.

Stinging jellyfish outbreaks represent a health hazard, causing contact dermatitis and systemic reactions. This study investigated the epidemiology, severity, and treatment protocols of jellyfish stings in a coastal area with high tourist development and frequent stinging jellyfish outbreaks of the central Mediterranean (Salento, Southern Italy), and the associated costs for the Italian National Health Service. In 2007-2011, 1,733 bathers (mostly children and females) sought medical assistance following jellyfish stings, the main cause of human pathologies due to contact with marine organisms. The majority of events were reported in the years 2007-2009, whereas the occurrence of cnidarian jellyfish outbreaks has been increasingly reported in the same area since summer 2010. Most symptoms were limited to local and cutaneous reactions; conversely, 8.7% of cases evoked complications, mainly due to allergic reactions. The main drugs used were corticosteroids, locally applied and systemic (46% and 43%, respectively), and with ammonia (74%) as the main non-pharmacological treatment. The estimated cost of jellyfish-related first-aid services along the Salento coastline over the 5-year period was approximately 400,000 Euros. Therefore the management of jellyfish outbreak phenomena need coordinated research efforts towards a better understanding of underlying ecological mechanisms, together with the adoption of effective prevention policy, mitigation strategies, and appropriate planning of health services at tourist hot spots.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph110302488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3986988PMC
February 2014

Rotavirus Occurrence in Shellfish with Low Levels of E. coli.

Food Environ Virol 2013 Jul 30. Epub 2013 Jul 30.

Laboratory of Hygiene, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (Di.S.Te.B.A.), University of Salento, Via Prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, Lecce, 73100, Italy.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate "in field" the accumulation of virus in shellfish and compare it with the concentration of bacterial indicators. Individuals of Mytilus galloprovincialis were placed in two sampling station located in a contaminated coastal bay and in one control station located one kilometer offshore. The presence of Rotavirus and E. coli was assessed weekly both in seawater and in shellfish samples. The Rotavirus genome was detected in water, preliminarily concentrated by tangential flow ultrafiltration method, and in hepatopancreas of mussels by Real-Time PCR. E. coli was enumerated in water matrices by a filtering method and in mussels by the MPN method. Rotaviruses were not recorded in seawater, while in mussels they were detected since third week after placement. E. coli in mussels were always below the limits set in the Regulation (EC) 854/2004. This study suggests the need for a viral indicator to insure the safety for consumption of shellfish.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12560-013-9119-zDOI Listing
July 2013

Detection of viruses in coastal seawater using Mytilus galloprovincialis as an accumulation matrix.

Food Environ Virol 2012 Jun 18;4(2):81-8. Epub 2012 May 18.

Laboratory of Hygiene, Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology (DiSTeBA), University of the Salento, via Prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, 73100, Lecce, Italy.

The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that shellfish can be used to detect enteric viruses in marine waters where they are present at very low concentrations. Aqua-cultured mussels were placed in the sea just off the mouth of a drainage channel affected by human and animal faecal contamination. Samples were taken from the channel, the sea and the mussels at intervals over two 4-week periods. The samples were tested to verify the presence of both rotaviruses and E. coli. Rotaviruses were detected by Real Time-PCR, typed by multiplex PCR and subsequently sequenced. E. coli was enumerated in water matrices by a filtering method and in mussels by the MPN method. The presence of E. coli in the examined matrices demonstrates contamination of faecal origin throughout the studied environments. Rotaviruses were recorded in channel waters, but not in sea water. In both experiments, rotaviruses were detected in mussels 21 and 28 days after being placed in the sea water off the channel mouth. The use of mussels thus enabled the detection of rotaviruses in waters where the high dilution rendered direct investigation impossible. This study indicates that mussels can be used in marine virological surveillance programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12560-012-9079-8DOI Listing
June 2012

Placental hCG immunohistochemistry and serum free-Beta-hCG at 11-13 weeks' gestation in intrauterine fetal demise.

Histochem Cell Biol 2013 Apr 21;139(4):595-603. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Udine, Piazzale SM della Misericordia 15, 33100, Udine, Italy.

Intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD) is a continuing problem that can result in severe psychosocial trauma for expecting parents. Our aim was to analyze placental human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) expression at the third trimester and free-Beta-hCG levels measured at 11-13 weeks in cases of IUFD that occurred after 34 weeks' gestation, alongside a parallel analysis of a set of controls. In this retrospective study we present immunohistochemical data of a tissue microarray that included the following: 12 placentas where IUFD occurred (24 samples); 28 control placentas from first and early second trimester (56 samples); and 30 control placentas at term of pregnancy (60 samples). We used immunohistochemistry to analyze the expression of hCG. Data are also presented from 3,240 first trimester trisomies screening tests, of which 21 pregnancies resulted in IUFD (15 after 22 weeks' gestation and 6 after 34 weeks). All pregnancies took place between 2001 and 2010. For each case, our analysis took account of pregnancy-related data that we gathered from the relevant clinical files. Small for gestational age (SGA) was defined as neonatal weight <10th centile. Our results show that full-term placentas displayed a decreased immunohistochemical expression of hCG in comparison with those at the first trimester (p < 0.05). Moreover, low hCG expression in placentas at the third trimester was shown to be an independent risk factor for IUFD after 34 weeks' gestation (under multivariate analysis with p < 0.05). When we reviewed first trimester screening results, free-Beta-HCG was found to be lower for the group of IUFD after 34 weeks' gestation than in the group of live births (p < 0.05). This difference was heavily weighted by non small for gestational age (non-SGA) associated cases of IUFD: these presented a free-Beta-hCG MoM log of -0.27 (± 0.09) in contrast to just -0.01 (± 0.03) in SGA-associated IUFD (p < 0.05). Our results show that low hCG is an independent risk factor for IUFD after 34 weeks' gestation, and that levels of the hormone are significantly lower in non-SGA associated cases of IUFD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00418-012-1054-9DOI Listing
April 2013

Survivin, MMP-2, MT1-MMP, and TIMP-2: their impact on survival, implantation, and proliferation of endometriotic tissues.

Virchows Arch 2012 Nov 6;461(5):589-99. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Udine, Piazzale SM della Misericordia, 15-33100 Udine, Italy.

In order to study survivin, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2), membranous type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), and tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2) expression immunohistochemically in endometriotic tissues and normal endometrium, our retrospective study considered 194 patients affected by endometriosis and 71 patients with normal endometrium. Tissue microarrays were created from paraffin-embedded blocks; immunohistochemistry was used to assess protein expression. In endometriotic tissues, survivin was expressed at a higher level than in normal endometrium; its glandular expression level was higher in non-ovarian than in ovarian endometriotic tissues and lower in stromal components. Endometrial tissues from women without endometriosis and endometriotic tissues had different matrix metalloproteinase expression profiles. MMP-2 and MT1-MMP correlated with TIMP-2 in endometriotic tissues. Furthermore, in endometriotic tissues, expression of survivin, aurora B kinase, and Ki-67 showed a significant positive correlation, which indicates a role in cellular proliferation that could be closely linked to its anti-apoptotic activity in endometriosis development. Our results imply a role for matrix metalloproteinases in endometriosis invasiveness; correlation of their expression with that of TIMP-2 underscores its possible key regulatory role.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00428-012-1301-4DOI Listing
November 2012

First-time comparison of the in vitro antimalarial activity of Artemisia annua herbal tea and artemisinin.

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2012 Nov 15;106(11):696-700. Epub 2012 Sep 15.

Laboratory of Hygiene, Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Via Prov. le Lecce-Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Artemisia annua tea has been proven to be a very effective treatment for malaria in various clinical trials, but to date its efficacy has not been investigated in vitro. A study was therefore performed to evaluate the effects of A. annua tea on Plasmodium falciparum cultures in vitro. The concentration of artemisinin in the herbal tea preparation was also determined. The herbal tea extract was tested against chloroquine (CQ)-sensitive D10 and CQ-resistant W2 strains of P. falciparum using the parasite lactate dehydrogenase assay. Quantification of artemisinin in the extract of leaves of A. annua was performed using proton nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H-NMR). Results of the in vitro tests were consistent with the clinical efficacy of A. annua tea [50% inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) for strain D10=1.11±0.21 μg/ml; IC(50) for strain W2=0.88±0.35 μg/ml]. The concentration of artemisinin in A. annua tea (0.18±0.02% of dry weight) was far too low to be responsible for the antimalarial activity. The artemisinin present in the tea is probably co-solubilised with other ingredients, some of which also have antimalarial activity and act synergistically with it. These compounds also merit further research to determine whether their presence hinders the development of parasite resistance compared with pure artemisinin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trstmh.2012.07.008DOI Listing
November 2012

Surgical treatment of ectopic pregnancy associated with predisposing factors of tuboperitoneal infertility.

Minim Invasive Ther Allied Technol 2013 Apr 6;22(2):97-103. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, AOU SM della Misericordia, Udine, Italy.

Objective: We sought to study the advantages of laparoscopic conservative treatment and pelvic reproductive surgery in patients with ectopic pregnancy and predisposing factors of tuboperitoneal infertility.

Material And Methods: Patients who had undergone laparoscopic treatment for ectopic pregnancy were considered, with factors for tuboperitoneal infertility, while patients who underwent previous salpingectomy or assisted reproductive technology were excluded. The groups treated by salpingotomy (conservative) or salpingectomy (radical) were compared in terms of spontaneous intrauterine pregnancy rate, cumulative one-year pregnancy rate and recurrence of ectopic pregnancy. We considered patients treated with adhesiolysis, fimbrioplasty, and neosalpingostomy for tubal pathology as part of the fertility surgery group.

Results: Among 41 considered patients, 21 (51%) underwent conservative laparoscopic management of ectopic pregnancy. Twenty patients (49%) had salpingectomy. Despite the treatment of tuboperitoneal infertility factors in both groups, the pregnancy rate was significantly higher in the conservative group than in the radical one (76% vs 25%, p < 0.05). The overall cumulative rate of ectopic pregnancy recurrence was 22% and no significant difference was found between conservative and radical treatment (p 0.645).

Conclusions: Salpingotomy should be preferred in all patients with ectopic pregnancy associated with factors of tuboperitoneal infertility. Infertility surgery clearly cannot help patients treated with salpingectomy, who obtain lower spontaneous pregnancy rates than those of the conservative group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/13645706.2012.708346DOI Listing
April 2013

Expression patterns of Aurora A and B kinases, Ki-67 and the estrogen and progesterone receptors determined using an endometriosis tissue microarray model.

Hum Reprod 2011 Oct 12;26(10):2731-41. Epub 2011 Aug 12.

Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy.

Background: The roles of cell proliferation and genomic instability in endometriosis are highly debated aspects of the pathogenesis of this disease. Aurora A and B kinases play different important roles in cell cycle control and genomic instability and have never been studied in endometriosis. The aim of this study was to compare the expression levels of Aurora kinases, Ki-67 and hormone receptor in endometriotic tissue (ET) and normal endometrium.

Methods: We retrospectively analysed 438 samples obtained from 194 patients affected by endometriosis and 28 samples from 28 patients with normal endometrium, which were all collected by the Pathology Department and Gynecologic Clinic of the University Hospital of Udine. A tissue microarray model was constructed to use immunohistochemistry to analyse the expression of Aurora A and B kinases, Ki-67 and the estrogen and progesterone receptors in ET and normal endometrium.

Results: Aurora A and B kinases were expressed at a very low level in the majority of endometriosis core biopsies. Aurora A and B kinases, Ki-67 and the estrogen and progesterone receptors were expressed at a higher level in the proliferative endometrium than in the secretory endometrium and in ovarian and non-ovarian ET (P < 0.05). Additionally, Aurora B kinase, Ki-67 and the estrogen and progesterone receptors were more highly expressed in non-ovarian than ovarian ET (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Considering the low expression levels of Aurora A and B kinases in the majority of endometriosis core biopsies, the growth and survival of endometrial tissue outside the uterus cannot be explained by deregulation of this pathway. The analysed ectopic endometrium protein expression pattern resembled that of the secretory endometrium, and markers of proliferation and hormone receptors were expressed at lower levels in ovarian than in non-ovarian ET. The low level of hormone receptors and the consequent low levels of proliferation markers in ovarian ETs may be due to down-regulation by the ovary's hormone milieu.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/der264DOI Listing
October 2011

Influence of the couple on hypertensive disorders during pregnancy: A retrospective cohort study.

Pregnancy Hypertens 2011 Apr 18;1(2):156-63. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, AOU "SM della Misericordia" of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy.

Objective: Our study investigates a possible couple predisposition for pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders (PRHDs).

Materials And Methods: We selected 350 women with PRHDs and a random control cohort without PRHDs. We analyzed their clinical files and asked them and their partners about clinical information and family history for some common pathologies. Statistical bivariate and multivariate analysis was performed by R, considering significant p<0.05.

Results: Familial history reveals in cases more maternal grandparents hypertension and thrombophilia, and paternal, personal and familial, thrombophilia history than in controls. By multivariate analysis, the occurrence of PRHDs is influenced by stress, maternal BMI, maternal chronic hypertension, pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, nulliparity, maternal grandmother and grandfather hypertension; and academic degrees is a protective factor. Selecting only multipara, PRHDs correlate with advanced maternal age, higher maternal BMI, chronic hypertension, longer interpregnancy interval, stress, previous pregnancies affected by PRHDs, and paternal, personal and familial, thrombophilia history. Moreover the multivariate logistic regression models considering parents familial and personal history results are accurate to predict PRHDs with an AUC of 79% in the general population and 82% among multiparous women.

Conclusions: The couple should be evaluated together for PRHDs risk, both parents familial history should be considered in PRHDs screening programs, and further studies are required, in a society continuously changing its characteristics and habits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.preghy.2011.01.005DOI Listing
April 2011

Detection and molecular characterization of human rotaviruses isolated in Italy and Albania.

J Med Virol 2010 Mar;82(3):510-8

Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.

Rotaviruses are one of the most important causes of gastroenteritis in children under 5 years old. Analysis of G and P rotavirus genotypes in circulation is crucial in evaluating the appropriacy of mass vaccination of children worldwide. Overall, 592 stool samples were collected in Tirana (Albania), the Salento peninsula (South Italy), and three different hospitals in Rome (Central Italy). Of the total samples, 31.3% were rotavirus positive in Albania, 78.3% in the Salento, and 40.3% in Rome. The samples collected in Tirana and Rome were G-P typed, whereas the samples collected in the Salento were only G typed. Overall, in Italy the most frequent combinations were G4 P[8] (54.5%), G1 P[8] (27.3%), and G2 P[4] (18.2%); in Albania they were G9 P[8] (72.1%), G4 P[8] (8.8%), G1 P[8] (5.9%), and G2 P[4] (2.9%). The prevalence in Albania of atypical combinations was 7.4% for G4 P[4] and 2.9% for G9 P[4]. Phylogenetic analysis was also performed to assess the genetic relatedness of the strains. J. Med. Virol. 82:510-518, 2010. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmv.21700DOI Listing
March 2010