In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (4)

Articles by Altea Rocchi in JoVE

Other articles by Altea Rocchi on PubMed

NMR Metabolomic Investigation of Astrocytes Interacted with Aβ₄₂ or Its Complexes with Either Copper(II) or Zinc(II)

Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. Dec, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 23062696

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of senile dementia. One of the main hallmarks of AD is the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain, primarily formed by fibrils of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. Transition metal ions, such as Cu(2+) and Zn(2+) have been found at high concentrations in senile plaques isolated from AD patients and evidence have been reached that (i) Aβ aggregation is greatly affected by Cu(2+) and Zn(2+) and (ii) Cu(2+), implicated in the formation of reactive oxygen species, leads to mitochondrial dysfunctions ultimately leading to neuronal cells death. Aβ, apart from being toxic to neural cells, induces reactive astrocytosis in cell culture. Astrocytes play many crucial roles to sustain normal brain function by maintaining the cerebral homeostasis, modulating the synaptic transmission, and providing a metabolic support for neuronal growth. Although many studies have shown that Aβ fibrils interfere in the main astrocytic functions aimed at supporting the neuronal activity, nothing is known about the effects of Zn(2+)- and Cu(2+)-induced Aβ aggregates on astrocyte functions. In this study the effects of treatments with Aβ(42), either in absence or in the presence of Cu(2+) and Zn(2+), on astrocyte cell cultures were evaluated by using classical cellular assay and by looking at changes in metabolic profiles in the cellular medium by using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). Our results indicate that metal induced Aβ aggregation strongly affects the metabolites involved in the neurotransmission activity supporting a deleterious impact of Cu(2+) and Zn(2+) Aβ amyloidogenesis on astrocyte functions.

Emerging Roles of Autophagy in Metabolism and Metabolic Disorders

Frontiers in Biology. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26989402

The global prevalence of metabolic disorders is an immediate threat to human health. Genetic features, environmental aspects and lifestyle changes are the major risk factors determining metabolic dysfunction in the body. Autophagy is a housekeeping stress-induced lysosomal degradation pathway, which recycles macromolecules and metabolites for new protein synthesis and energy production and regulates cellular homeostasis by clearance of damaged protein or organelles. Recently, a dramatically increasing number of literatures has shown that defects of the autophagic machinery is associated with dysfunction of multiple metabolic tissues including pancreatic β cells, liver, adipose tissue and muscle, and is implicated in metabolic disorders such as obesity and insulin resistance. Here in this review, we summarize the representative works on these topics and discuss the versatile roles of autophagy in the regulation of cellular metabolism and its possible implication in metabolic diseases.

FGFR2IIIb-MAPK Activity Is Required for Epithelial Cell Fate Decision in the Lower Müllerian Duct

Molecular Endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.). Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27164167

Cell fate of lower Müllerian duct epithelium (MDE), to become uterine or vaginal epithelium, is determined by the absence or presence of ΔNp63 expression, respectively. Previously, we showed that SMAD4 and runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) were independently required for MDE to express ΔNp63. Here, we report that vaginal mesenchyme directs vaginal epithelial cell fate in MDE through paracrine activation of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor-MAPK pathway. In the developing reproductive tract, FGF7 and FGF10 were enriched in vaginal mesenchyme, whereas FGF receptor 2IIIb was expressed in epithelia of both the uterus and vagina. When Fgfr2 was inactivated, vaginal MDE underwent uterine cell fate, and this differentiation defect was corrected by activation of MEK-ERK pathway. In vitro, FGF10 in combination with bone morphogenetic protein 4 and activin A (ActA) was sufficient to induce ΔNp63 in MDE, and ActA was essential for induction of RUNX1 through SMAD-independent pathways. Accordingly, inhibition of type 1 receptors for activin in neonatal mice induced uterine differentiation in vaginal epithelium by down-regulating RUNX1, whereas conditional deletion of Smad2 and Smad3 had no effect on vaginal epithelial differentiation. In conclusion, vaginal epithelial cell fate in MDE is induced by FGF7/10-MAPK, bone morphogenetic protein 4-SMAD, and ActA-RUNX1 pathway activities, and the disruption in any one of these pathways results in conversion from vaginal to uterine epithelial cell fate.

Identification of Natural Products with Neuronal and Metabolic Benefits Through Autophagy Induction

Autophagy. Jan, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 27791467

Autophagy is a housekeeping lysosomal degradation pathway important for cellular survival, homeostasis and function. Various disease models have shown that upregulation of autophagy may be beneficial to combat disease pathogenesis. However, despite several recently reported small-molecule screens for synthetic autophagy inducers, natural chemicals of diverse structures and functions have not been included in the synthetic libraries, and characterization of their roles in autophagy has been lacking. To discover novel autophagy-regulating compounds and study their therapeutic mechanisms, we used analytic chemistry approaches to isolate natural phytochemicals from a reservoir of medicinal plants used in traditional remedies. From this pilot plant metabolite library, we identified several novel autophagy-inducing phytochemicals, including Rg2. Rg2 is a steroid glycoside chemical that activates autophagy in an AMPK-ULK1-dependent and MTOR-independent manner. Induction of autophagy by Rg2 enhances the clearance of protein aggregates in a cell-based model, improves cognitive behaviors in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease, and prevents high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance. Thus, we discovered a series of autophagy-inducing phytochemicals from medicinal plants, and found that one of the compounds Rg2 mediates metabolic and neurotrophic effects dependent on activation of the autophagy pathway. These findings may help explain how medicinal plants exert the therapeutic functions against metabolic diseases.

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