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Li Volti G.,University of Catania | Galvano F.,University of Catania | Frigiola A.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | Guccione S.,University of Catania | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry

Human milk contains biological factors that are involved in a newborn's growth and immune system regulation. By integrating standard biochemical experimental protocols with computational methods, the present study investigates the presence of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a cytoprotective enzyme, in human milk at different levels of maturation and in milk formulae. Furthermore, we evaluated cytokine and glutathione S-transferase (GSH) levels. Samples were collected from colostrum (on Day 1 after birth), from transition milk (on Postdelivery Days 7 and 14) and from mature milk (on Day 30 after delivery) in 14 healthy women. HO-1 protein, GSH and cytokines levels were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and flow cytometry. HO-1 protein levels were significantly higher in colostrum (1.33 ng/ml; 5th centile 0.92; 95th centile 2.38) and in transition milk at 14 days (0.97 ng/ml; 5th centile 0.87; 95th centile 1.45) than in mature milk (0.9 ng/ml; 5th centile 0.8; 95th centile 1.38). Levels of HO-1 in milk formulae were similar to those in colostrum. No significant differences in GSH content were observed in mature milk, transition milk and colostrum, whereas significantly higher GSH levels were observed in milk formulae. No significant levels of cytokines, with the exception of interleukin-8, were found. Computational studies on the possible interactions between HO-1 and CD91 were carried out by a battery of softwares, namely, GRAMM (version 1.03), DALI, CLUSTALW (version 2.0), PatchDock and FireDock, mutually counterchecking and validating each other. The computational results, the strong convergence (to the same "solution") of which finally leads to an "experimental-like" character, showed that HO-1 may bind to CD91, thus suggesting its major role as a new chaperokine in immune response regulation. These findings, which connect and integrate biochemical data and computational data interpretation, represent a synergistic and powerful means of conducting biological research. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Source

Thota C.,Meharry Medical College | Menon R.,University of Texas Medical Branch | Menon R.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | Fortunato S.J.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | And 3 more authors.
Reproductive Sciences

Vitamin (vit) D deficiency and preterm birth (PTB) are more prevalent among African American (AA) women compared to caucasian (Cau) women. Because vit D is important in regulating cell-mediated immune responses, vit D insufficiency or deficiency during pregnancy may enhance inflammation in pregnant women and increase the risk of PTB. In this study, circulatory levels of 25-hydroxy (OH) and 1,25-dihydroxy (OH)2 vit D were measured using chemiluminescence and radioimmunoassay techniques, respectively, in AA (n = 108) and Cau (n = 84) women who delivered at term and preterm. The results from this study suggest that the serum levels of the 25-(OH) vit D concentrations tend to decrease (P =.06) in the Cau women who delivered at preterm compared to those delivering at term. However, the 25-(OH) vit D levels in Cau and AA between term and preterm deliveries were not significantly different. The serum levels of 1,25-(OH)2 vit D were found to be significantly lower in AA women compared to Cau women (P <.02) at term, and in the Cau (P <.01) and AA (P <.04) women delivering at preterm compared to those delivering at term. One-way analysis of variance demonstrated that 1,25-(OH)2 vit D levels were significantly lower in participants delivering at preterm (<34 weeks and between 34 and 37 weeks) compared to those delivering at term (>37 weeks).These results suggest that low levels of serum 1,25-(OH)2 vit D are associated with PTB, and vit D can potentially be used as a novel diagnostic marker in the detection of PTB. © The Author(s) 2013. Source

Thota C.,Meharry Medical College | Menon R.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | Menon R.,University of Texas Medical Branch | Wentz M.J.,University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center | And 5 more authors.
Reproductive Sciences

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) activity has been reported to be higher in African Americans (AA) than Caucasians (Cau). COMT converts 2- and 4-hydroxy (OH) estrogens to 2- and 4-methoxyestrogens, respectively, and can increase estrogenic milieu locally in tissues. To assess whether the increased incidence of preterm birth (PTB) among AA women is associated with single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the COMT gene, we examined variations in maternal and fetal COMT genes and their association with pregnancy outcomes (term vs preterm pregnancies) using 4 functional SNPs: rs4633, rs4680, rs4818, and rs6269 in both AA and Cau. We analyzed samples from 267 AA women (191 term and 76 preterm pregnancies) and 339 Cau (194 term and 145 preterm pregnancies) in this study. The results showed a significant difference (P <.05) in allele and genotype frequencies between term and preterm AA and Cau women in 3 SNPs in both maternal and fetal DNA. The analysis revealed that in AA fetal COMT genes, SNP rs4818 is associated with PTB at the allele (C; P <.001), genotype (C/C; P <.01), and 2- (P <.03) and 3 (P <.04)-window haplotype levels. Multidimensionality reduction analysis also showed a significant (P <.01) association between rs4818 and PTB. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that a synonymous polymorphism, rs4818 in the fetal COMT gene, is associated with PTB in AA. © The Author(s) 2012. Source

Lee J.-H.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | Lee J.-H.,Chonbuk National University | Zhang J.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | Flores L.,Perinatal Research Laboratory | And 3 more authors.
American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Antenatal steroid administration is associated with multiple cardiometabolic alterations, including hypertension; however, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are unclear. The aim of the present study was to ascertain, in vivo, the contribution of the endothelin system to the development of hypertension in the adult offspring and the signaling pathway involved. Pregnant sheep were treated with two doses of betamethasone (n = 23) or vehicle (n = 22) at 80 days (~0.55) gestation and allowed to deliver at term. Adult sheep were chronically instrumented under general anesthesia to place vascular catheters and a femoral artery flow probe. Blood pressure and flow were recorded continuously, and femoral artery vascular resistance was calculated before and during administration of endothelin 1 (ET-1). Selective blockers (dantrolene, BQ123, niacinamide) or saline were administered simultaneously. Betamethasone-exposed animals exhibited a significant elevation in mean blood pressure (female: 98 ± 1.8 vs. 92 ± 2.1; males: 97 ± 3.4 vs. 90 ± 2.3; mmHg; P < 0.05). ET-1 elicited a significant increase in blood pressure (F = 56.4; P < 0.001) and in vascular resistance (F = 44.3; P = 0.001) in all groups. A betamethasone effect in the vascular resistance response to ET-1 (F = 25.7; P < 0.001) was present in females only, and the effect was partially blunted by niacinamide (F = 6.6; P < 0.01). Combined administration of niacinamide and BQ123, as well as of dantrolene abolished the betamethasone effect on vascular resistance. No significant differences in mRNA expression of ETA or ETB in endothelial or smooth muscle cells of resistance-size arteries were observed. We conclude that the betamethasone effect on vascular resistance is mediated by an enhanced response to ET-1 through ETA receptor via the cyclic ADPR/ryanodine pathway. © 2013 the American Physiological Society. Source

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