Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Ponce, Puerto Rico

The Ponce Health science University , formerly Ponce School of Medicine & Health science, is a private university located in the city of Ponce in Puerto Rico. It was inaugurated in 1977. It holds nationally accredited graduate programs in the disciplines of Medicine , Clinical Psychology , Biomedical science , Medical science , and Public Health . In 2002, the institution established an academic partnership with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. Wikipedia.

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Martinez F.P.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Tang Q.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Viruses | Year: 2014

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gene expression during infection is characterized as a sequential process including immediate-early (IE), early (E), and late (L)-stage gene expression. The most abundantly expressed gene at the IE stage of infection is the major IE (MIE) gene that produces IE1 and IE2. IE1 has been the focus of study because it is an important protein, not only for viral gene expression but also for viral replication. It is believed that IE1 plays important roles in viral gene regulation by interacting with cellular proteins. In the current study, we performed protein array assays and identified 83 cellular proteins that interact with IE1. Among them, seven are RNA-binding proteins that are important in RNA processing; more than half are nuclear proteins that are involved in gene regulations. Tumorigenesis-related proteins are also found to interact with IE1, implying that the role of IE1 in tumorigenesis might need to be reevaluated. Unexpectedly, cytoplasmic proteins, such as Golgi autoantigen and GGA1 (both related to the Golgi trafficking protein), are also found to be associated with IE1. We also employed a coimmunoprecipitation assay to test the interactions of IE1 and some of the proteins identified in the protein array assays and confirmed that the results from the protein array assays are reliable. Many of the proteins identified by the protein array assay have not been previously reported. Therefore, the functions of the IE1-protein interactions need to be further explored in the future. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Ferder M.,University of Buenos Aires | Inserra F.,Austral University | Manucha W.,National University of Cuyo | Ferder L.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology | Year: 2013

This review attempts to show that there may be a relationship between inflamma-tory processes induced by chronic overstimulation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and the worldwide deficiency of vitamin D (VitD) and that both disorders are probably associated with environmental factors. Low VitD levels represent a risk factor for several apparently different diseases, such as infectious, autoimmune, neu-rodegenerative, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. Moreover, VitD insufficiency seems to predispose to hypertension, metabolic syndrome, left ventricular hypertrophy, heart failure, and chronic vascular inflamma-tion. On the other hand, inappropriate stimulation of the RAS has also been associated with the pathogenesis of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and hypertrophy of the left ventricle and vascular smooth muscle cells. Because VitD receptors (VDRs) and RAS receptors are almost distributed in the same tissues, a possible link between VitD and the RAS is even more plausible. Furthermore, from an evolutionary point of view, both systems were developed simultaneously, actively participating in the regulation of inflammatory and immunological mechanisms. Changes in RAS activity and activation of the VDR seem to be inversely related; thus any changes in one of these systems would have a completely opposite effect on the other, making it possible to speculate that the two systems could have a feedback relationship. In fact, the pandemic of VitD deficiency could be the other face of increased RAS activity, which probably causes lower activity or lower levels of VitD. Finally, from a therapeutic point of view, the combination of RAS blockade and VDR stimulation appears to be more effective than either RAS blockade or VDR stimulation individually. © 2013 the American Physiological Society.

Santini E.,University of Puerto Rico at San Juan | Sepulveda-Orengo M.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Porter J.T.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Neuropsychopharmacology | Year: 2012

There is considerable interest in identifying pharmacological compounds that could be used to facilitate fear extinction. Recently, we showed that the modulation of M-type K channels regulates the intrinsic excitability of infralimbic (IL) neurons and fear expression. As muscarinic acetylcholine receptors inhibit M-type K channels, cholinergic inputs to IL may have an important role in controlling IL excitability and, thereby, fear expression and extinction. To test this model, we combined whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology and auditory fear conditioning. In prefrontal brain slices, muscarine enhanced the intrinsic excitability of IL neurons by reducing the M-current and the slow afterhyperpolarization, resulting in an increased number of spikes with shorter inter-spike intervals. Next, we examined the role of endogenous activation of muscarinic receptors in fear extinction. Systemic injected scopolamine (Scop) (muscarinic receptor antagonist) before or immediately after extinction training impaired recall of extinction 24-h later, suggesting that muscarinic receptors are critically involved in consolidation of extinction memory. Similarly, infusion of Scop into IL before extinction training also impaired recall of extinction 24-h later. Finally, we demonstrated that systemic injections of the muscarinic agonist, cevimeline (Cev), given before or immediately after extinction training facilitated recall of extinction the following day. Taken together, these findings suggest that cholinergic inputs to IL have a critical role in modulating consolidation of fear extinction and that muscarinic agonists such as Cev might be useful for facilitating extinction memory in patients suffering from anxiety disorders. © 2012 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Ferder L.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Ferder M.D.,Institute of Cardiovascular Pathophysiology | Inserra F.,Institute of Cardiovascular Pathophysiology
Current Hypertension Reports | Year: 2010

Obesity and related diseases are an important and growing health concern in the United States and around the world. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are now the primary sources of added sugars in Americans' diets. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of common pathologies, including abdominal obesity linked to an excess of visceral fat, fatty liver, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. Trends in all of these alterations are related to the consumption of dietary fructose and the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener in soft drinks and other foods. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests a progressive association between HFCS consumption, obesity, and the other injury processes. However, experimental HFCS consumption seems to produce some of the changes associated with metabolic syndrome even without increasing the body weight. Metabolic damage associated with HFCS probably is not limited to obesity-pathway mechanisms. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010.

Matos-Ocasio F.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Hernandez-Lopez A.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Thompson K.J.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior | Year: 2014

Glutamate transporters (GluTs) are important for maintaining optimal glutamate concentrations at the synapse. This allows proper synaptic response, plasticity and prevents neurotoxicity. It has been shown that the β-lactam antibiotic ceftriaxone (Rocephin) induces an up-regulation of the glutamate transporter GLT-1. This GLT-1 up-regulation blocks the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) dependent long-term depression (LTD) at the mossy fiber (MF)-CA3 hippocampal synapse. It also has negative effects on long-term potentiation (LTP). However, the effects of GLT-1 up-regulation on hippocampal learning in rats are not known. In this study, we examine the role of chronic administration of ceftriaxone on novel object recognition, which is a hippocampal-dependent spatial learning task. Male Sprague Dawley rats (2-3 months old) were administered ceftriaxone (via i.p. injections, 200 mg/kg) for 8 consecutive days prior to training and testing on a standard novel object recognition task. We found that rats administered with ceftriaxone display memory impairments in novel object recognition, when compared to control rats (p < 0.05). Our findings show that a potential up-regulation of GLT-1 via ceftriaxone administration has detrimental effects on spatial learning and memory in rats. Our results further support the notion that glutamate transporters provide an essential regulatory role in hippocampal learning and memory. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Acevedo S.F.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research | Year: 2012

As the number of cancer survivors rises, so does the importance of understanding what happens post-chemotherapy. The evidence is clear that chemotherapy affects not only cancer cells, but also healthy cells including neurons, leading to long-term cognitive dysfunction in a large portion of survivors. In order to understand the mechanism of action and in the hope of reducing the potential neurocognitive side effects of chemotherapy, pre-clinical testing should be used more effectively. However, the field is lacking translation from clinical studies to animal models. Spatial learning and memory paradigms based on the water maze, the most commonly used rodent model, are available for translational testing in humans and could overcome this weakness. There is an overwhelming need in the field to understand whether the water maze is an adequate model for post-chemotherapy impairments or whether other paradigms should be used. This is of great importance for the understanding of the mechanisms, side effects of new drugs, appropriate pharmacotherapy, and confounding factors related to chemotherapy treatment regiments. This review is very important to both basic scientists and clinicians determining how translational paradigms are critical to future cancer research, as well as what type of paradigms are appropriate in our technically advancing society. © The author(s), publisher and licensee Libertas Academica Ltd.

De Cavanagh E.M.V.,Austral University | Inserra F.,University of Buenos Aires | Ferder L.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Cardiovascular Research | Year: 2011

Protein and lipid oxidationmainly by mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS)was proposed as a crucial determinant of health and lifespan. Angiotensin II (Ang II) enhances ROS production by activating NAD(P)H oxidase and uncoupling endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Ang II also stimulates mtROS production, which depresses mitochondrial energy metabolism. In rodents, reninangiotensin system blockade (RAS blockade) increases survival and prevents age-associated changes. RAS blockade reduces mtROS and enhances mitochondrial content and function. This suggests that Ang II contributes to the ageing process by prompting mitochondrial dysfunction. Since Ang II is a pleiotropic peptide, the age-protecting effects of RAS blockade are expected to involve a variety of other mechanisms. Caloric restriction (CR)an age-retarding intervention in humans and animalsand RAS blockade display a number of converging effects, i.e. they delay the manifestations of hypertension, diabetes, nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, and cancer; increase body temperature; reduce body weight, plasma glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1; ameliorate insulin sensitivity; lower protein, lipid, and DNA oxidation, and mitochondrial H2O2 production; and increase uncoupling protein-2 and sirtuin expression. A number of these overlapping effects involve changes in mitochondrial function. In CR, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) seem to contribute to age-retardation partly by regulating mitochondrial function. RAS inhibition up-regulates PPARs; therefore, it is feasible that PPAR modulation is pivotal for mitochondrial protection by RAS blockade during rodent ageing. Other potential mechanisms that may underlie RAS blockades mitochondrial benefits are TGF-β down-regulation and up-regulation of Klotho and sirtuins. In conclusion, the available data suggest that RAS blockade deserves further research efforts to establish its role as a potential tool to mitigate the growing problem of age-associated chronic disease. © 2010 The Author.

Santini E.,University of Puerto Rico at San Juan | Porter J.T.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2010

Growing evidence indicates that the activity of infralimbic prefrontal cortex (IL) is critical for inhibiting inappropriate fear responses following extinction learning. Recently, we showed that fear conditioning and extinction alter the intrinsic excitability and bursting of IL pyramidal neurons in brain slices. IL neurons from Sprague Dawley rats expressing high fear had lower intrinsic excitability and bursting than those from rats expressing low fear, suggesting that regulating the intrinsic excitability and bursting of IL neurons would modulate fear expression. To test this, we combined patch-clamp electrophysiology, auditory fear conditioning, and IL infusions of M-type K + channel modulators. Patch-clamp recordings from IL neurons showed that the M-type K+ channel blocker, XE-991, increased the number of spikes evoked by a depolarizing pulse and reduced the first interspike interval indicating enhanced bursting. To test whether pharmacological enhancement of IL excitability and bursting reduces fear expression and facilitates extinction, fear-conditioned rats were infused with XE-991 into IL before extinction training. XE-infused rats showed reduced freezing and facilitated extinction compared to vehicle-infused rats. The following day, recall of extinction memory was enhanced. Reducing IL excitability and bursting with the M-type K + channel agonist, flupirtine, had the opposite effect. Flupirtine reduced IL spike count and bursting in brain slices. Fear-conditioned rats infused with flupirtine into IL before extinction showed significantly higher levels of freezing, indicating that stimulation of M-channels enhanced fear expression. Our findings suggest that the intrinsic excitability and bursting of IL neurons regulate fear expression even before extinction. Copyright © 2010 the authors.

Rodriguez-Torres M.,Fundacion de Investigacion | Rodriguez-Torres M.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases | Year: 2013

Purpose of Review: Successful treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is necessary for the survival of HIV-infected patients. This review covers the outcomes of current therapy, first-generation HCV direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and their drug-to-drug interactions (DDIs). Understanding DDIs between HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the DAAs in development is important to assure the best management of the HIV/HCV coinfected individuals. Recent Findings: The two first-in-class DAAs were approved for clinical use in 2011. The first trials with boceprevir or telaprevir added to standard therapy in HIV/HCV coinfected patients revealed triple therapy to be efficacious with significantly improved sustained virological response rates. However, these DAAs were associated with more and worse adverse effects, as well as with significant DDIs with multiple drugs, including ART. Early data on DAAs in development suggest improved efficacy and safety and the potential for lesser DDIs. Summary: Anti-HCV therapy is fundamental in coinfected patients, but the approved therapies are suboptimal. The first-generation of approved HCV DAAs improved efficacy of therapy in coinfected patients, but have multiple safety concerns, including potentially serious drug interactions with ART. Early results from newer DAAs are promising. © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Bauckman K.A.,H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute | Haller E.,University of South Florida | Flores I.,Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences | Nanjundan M.,University of South Florida
Cell Death and Disease | Year: 2013

Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States. While the majority of ovarian cancers are serous, some rarer subtypes (i.e. clear cell) are often associated with endometriosis, a benign gynecological disease. Iron is rich in the cyst fluid of endometriosis- associated ovarian cancers and induces persistent oxidative stress. The role of iron, an essential nutrient involved in multiple cellular functions, in normal ovarian cell survival and ovarian cancer remains unclear. Iron, presented as ferric ammonium citrate (FAC), dramatically inhibits cell survival in ovarian cancer cell types associated with Ras mutations, while it is without effect in immortalized normal ovarian surface epithelial (T80) and endometriotic epithelial cells (lacking Ras mutations). Interestingly, FAC induced changes in cytoplasmic vacuolation concurrently with increases in LC3-II levels (an autophagy marker); these changes occurred in an ATG5/ATG7-dependent, beclin-1/hVps34-independent, and Ras-independent manner. Knockdown of autophagy mediators in HEY ovarian cancer cells reversed FAC-induced LC3-II levels, but there was little effect on reversing the cell death response. Intriguingly, transmission electron microscopy of FAC-treated T80 cells demonstrated abundant lysosomes (confirmed using Lysotracker) rich in iron particles, which occurred in a Ras-independent manner. Although the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor, U0126, reversed FAC-induced LC3-II/autophagic punctae and lysosomes in a Ras-independent manner, it was remarkable that U0126 reversed cell death in malignant ovarian cells associated with Ras mutations. Moreover, FAC increased heme oxygenase-1 expression in H-Ras-overexpressing T80 cells, which was associated with increased cell death when overexpressed in T80 cells. Disruption of intracellular iron levels, via chelation of intracellular iron (deferoxamine), was also detrimental to malignant ovarian cell survival; thus, homeostatic intracellular iron levels are essential for cell survival. Collectively, our results implicate iron in modulating cell death in a Ras- and MAPK-dependent manner in ovarian cancer cells. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

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