158 research outputs found

    Fruit Flies Provide New Insights in Low-Radiation Background Biology at the INFN Underground Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS)

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    Deep underground laboratories (DULs) were originally created to host particle, astroparticle or nuclear physics experiments requiring a low-background environment with vastly reduced levels of cosmic-ray particle interference. More recently, the range of science projects requiring an underground experiment site has greatly expanded, thus leading to the recognition of DULs as truly multidisciplinary science sites that host important studies in several fields, including geology, geophysics, climate and environmental sciences, technology/instrumentation development and biology. So far, underground biology experiments are ongoing or planned in a few of the currently operating DULs. Among these DULs is the Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS), where the majority of radiobiological data have been collected. Here we provide a summary of the current scenario of DULs around the world, as well as the specific features of the LNGS and a summary of the results we obtained so far, together with other findings collected in different underground laboratories. In particular, we focus on the recent results from our studies of Drosophila melanogaster, which provide the first evidence of the influence of the radiation environment on life span, fertility and response to genotoxic stress at the organism level. Given the increasing interest in this field and the establishment of new projects, it is possible that in the near future more DULs will serve as sites of radiobiology experiments, thus providing further relevant biological information at extremely low-dose-rate radiation. Underground experiments can be nicely complemented with above-ground studies at increasing dose rate. A systematic study performed in different exposure scenarios provides a potential opportunity to address important radiation protection questions, such as the dose/dose-rate relationship for cancer and non-cancer risk, the possible existence of dose/dose-rate threshold(s) for different biological systems and/or end points and the possible role of radiation quality in triggering the biological response

    Has COVID-19 changed carer's views of health and care integration in care homes? A sentiment difference-in-difference analysis of on-line service reviews

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    Closer integration of health and social care is a policy priority in many countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the necessity of joining up health and social care systems, especially in care home settings. However, the meaning and perceived importance of integration for residents’ and carers’ experience is unclear and we do not know whether it has changed during the pandemic. Using unique data from on-line care home service reviews, we combined multiple methods. We used Natural Language Processing with supervised machine learning to construct a measure of sentiment for care home residents' and their relatives’ (measured by AFINN score). Difference-in-difference analysis was used to examine whether experiencing integrated care altered these sentiments by comparing changes in sentiment in reviews related to integration (containing specific terms) to those which were not. Finally, we used network analysis on post-estimation results to assess which specific attributes stakeholders focus on most when detailing their most/least positive experiences of health and care integration in care homes, and whether these attributes changed over the pandemic. Reviews containing integration words were more positive than reviews unrelated to integration in the pre-pandemic period (about 2.3 points on the AFINN score) and remained so during the first year of the pandemic. Overall positive sentiment increased during the COVID-19 period (average by +1.1 points), mainly in reviews mentioning integration terms at the beginning of the first (+2.17, p-value 0.175) and second waves (+3.678, p-value 0.027). The role of care home staff was pivotal in both positive and negative reviews, with a shift from aspects related to care in pre-pandemic to information services during the pandemic, signalling their importance in translating integrated needs-based paradigms into policy and practice

    LAURA SILVIA BATTAGLIA, Lettere da Guantánamo

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    Melatonin as a master regulator of cell death and inflammation: molecular mechanisms and clinical implications for newborn care

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    Melatonin, more commonly known as the sleep hormone, is mainly secreted by the pineal gland in dark conditions and regulates the circadian rhythm of the organism. Its intrinsic properties, including high cell permeability, the ability to easily cross both the blood–brain and placenta barriers, and its role as an endogenous reservoir of free radical scavengers (with indirect extra activities), confer it beneficial uses as an adjuvant in the biomedical field. Melatonin can exert its effects by acting through specific cellular receptors on the plasma membrane, similar to other hormones, or through receptor-independent mechanisms that involve complex molecular cross talk with other players. There is increasing evidence regarding the extraordinary beneficial effects of melatonin, also via exogenous administration. Here, we summarize molecular pathways in which melatonin is considered a master regulator, with attention to cell death and inflammation mechanisms from basic, translational and clinical points of view in the context of newborn care

    Constitutive IP<sub>3</sub> signaling underlies the sensitivity of B-cell cancers to the Bcl-2/IP<sub>3</sub> receptor disruptor BIRD-2

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    Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins are upregulated in different cancers, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), enabling survival by inhibiting pro-apoptotic Bcl-2-family members and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor (IP3R)-mediated Ca2+-signaling. A peptide tool (Bcl-2/IP3R Disruptor-2; BIRD-2) was developed to abrogate the interaction of Bcl-2 with IP3Rs by targeting Bcl-2′s BH4 domain. BIRD-2 triggers cell death in primary CLL cells and in DLBCL cell lines. Particularly, DLBCL cells with high levels of IP3R2 were sensitive to BIRD-2. Here, we report that BIRD-2-induced cell death in DLBCL cells does not only depend on high IP3R2-expression levels, but also on constitutive IP3 signaling, downstream of the tonically active B-cell receptor. The basal Ca2+ level in SU-DHL-4 DLBCL cells was significantly elevated due to the constitutive IP3 production. This constitutive IP3 signaling fulfilled a pro-survival role, since inhibition of phospholipase C (PLC) using U73122 (2.5 µM) caused cell death in SU-DHL-4 cells. Milder inhibition of IP3 signaling using a lower U73122 concentration (1 µM) or expression of an IP3 sponge suppressed both BIRD-2-induced Ca2+ elevation and apoptosis in SU-DHL-4 cells. Basal PLC/IP3 signaling also fulfilled a pro-survival role in other DLBCL cell lines, including Karpas 422, RI-1 and SU-DHL-6 cells, whereas PLC inhibition protected these cells against BIRD-2-evoked apoptosis. Finally, U73122 treatment also suppressed BIRD-2-induced cell death in primary CLL, both in unsupported systems and in co-cultures with CD40L-expressing fibroblasts. Thus, constitutive IP3 signaling in lymphoma and leukemia cells is not only important for cancer cell survival, but also represents a vulnerability, rendering cancer cells dependent on Bcl-2 to limit IP3R activity. BIRD-2 seems to switch constitutive IP3 signaling from pro-survival into pro-death, presenting a plausible therapeutic strategy

    po 237 the pro oncogenic transcription factor stat3 regulates ca2 release and apoptosis from the endoplasmic reticulum via interaction with the ca2 channel ip3r3

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    Introduction Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) 3 is an oncogenic transcription factor found constitutively activated in several tumours, where it exerts its functions both as a canonical transcription factor and as a non-canonical regulator of energy metabolism and mitochondrial functions. These two activities rely on different post-translational activating events; the phosphorylation on Y705 is involved in nuclear activities, while that on S727 is relevant for mitochondrial functions. Mitochondrial STAT3 increases aerobic glycolysis and decreases ROS production, partly by interacting with the Electron Transfer Complexes (ETC). Material and methods By means of cell fractionations, we tested STAT3 localization to the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) in breast cancer cell lines dependent or not on STAT3 activity. We then measured Ca2+ release and apoptotic response in the same cells. The physical interaction between inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor type 3 (IP3R3) and STAT3 was demonstrated by co-IP either of the endogenous proteins or of their truncated/mutated forms, while STAT3 role in the degradation of IP3R3 was tested by serum starvation and refeeding experiments, followed by WB. Results and discussions We describe here the previously undetected abundant localization of STAT3 also to the ER. In this cellular compartment IP3R3, a Ca2+ channel that allows Ca2+ release from the ER and the mitochondrial associated membranes (MAMs) in response to IP3, regulates the balance between mitochondrial activation and Ca2+-triggered apoptosis. We observed that STAT3 within the ER physically interacts with IP3R3 and, via its phosphorylation on S727, it down-regulates Ca2+ release and apoptosis. Indeed, STAT3 silencing enhances both ER Ca2+ release and sensitivity to apoptosis following oxidative stress in STAT3-dependent mammary tumour cells, correlating with increased IP3R3 levels. In line with this, basal-like breast tumours, which frequently display constitutively active STAT3, show an inverse correlation between IP3R3 and STAT3 protein levels. Conclusion Our results indicate that S727-phosphorylated STAT3 contribute to mammary tumour aggressiveness, also by localising to the ER and regulating Ca2+ fluxes. STAT3-mediated enhanced IP3R3 degradation leads to decreased Ca2+ release and thus to resistance to apoptosis. This new non-canonical STAT3 role appears to be particularly relevant in basal-like breast cancers, adding a new mechanisms through which STAT3 exerts its well established pro-oncogenic anti-apoptotic role

    Excess deaths from COVID-19 and other causes by region, neighbourhood deprivation level and place of death during the first 30 weeks of the pandemic in England and Wales: A retrospective registry study

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    Background: Excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with those expected from historical trends have been unequally distributed, both geographically and socioeconomically. Not all excess deaths have been directly related to COVID-19 infection. We investigated geographical and socioeconomic patterns in excess deaths for major groups of underlying causes during the pandemic. Methods: Weekly mortality data from 27/12/2014 to 2/10/2020 for England and Wales were obtained from the Office of National Statistics. Negative binomial regressions were used to model death counts based on pre-pandemic trends for deaths caused directly by COVID-19 (and other respiratory causes) and those caused indirectly by it (cardiovascular disease or diabetes, cancers, and all other indirect causes) over the first 30 weeks of the pandemic (7/3/2020–2/10/2020). Findings: There were 62,321 (95% CI: 58,849 to 65,793) excess deaths in England and Wales in the first 30 weeks of the pandemic. Of these, 46,221 (95% CI: 45,439 to 47,003) were attributable to respiratory causes, including COVID-19, and 16,100 (95% CI: 13,410 to 18,790) to other causes. Rates of all-cause excess mortality ranged from 78 per 100,000 in the South West of England and in Wales to 130 per 100,000 in the West Midlands; and from 93 per 100,000 in the most affluent fifth of areas to 124 per 100,000 in the most deprived. The most deprived areas had the highest rates of death attributable to COVID-19 and other indirect deaths, but there was no socioeconomic gradient for excess deaths from cardiovascular disease/diabetes and cancer. Interpretation: During the first 30 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic there was significant geographic and socioeconomic variation in excess deaths for respiratory causes, but not for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Pandemic recovery plans, including vaccination programmes, should take account of individual characteristics including health, socioeconomic status and place of residence. Funding: None
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