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Piero Ruscitti - Top 30 Publications

The effect of non-TNF-targeted biologics and small molecules on insulin resistance in inflammatory arthritis.

Inflammatory arthritides are chronic diseases characterised by an increase in cardiovascular risk, largely attributable to the synergy between high-grade systemic inflammation and an elevated prevalence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Amongst the latter, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (T2D) play a key position. Previous studies demonstrated a potential insulin-sensitizing effect of anti-TNF biologic medications. For converse, less is known about the role of newer biologics or small molecules. For this reason, we performed a systematic review of the literature in order to identify the available data on the effect on insulin resistance of non-TNF targeting biologics and small molecules approved for the treatment of inflammatory arthritides. The search strategy initially retrieved 486 records of which only 10 articles were selected for inclusion in the final review. According to the available evidence, some of the newest molecules, in particular tocilizumab and abatacept, may have a role in improving insulin sensitivity; for converse, anakinra-mediated effect on glucose metabolism may exploit different facets of T2D pathophysiology, such as the preservation of beta-cell function. However, the data available on this issue are largely inconsistent and future, adequately designed studies are still needed to clarify the differential impact of novel therapeutics on individual pathophysiological features of T2D and other emerging cardiovascular risk factors.

Oxidized low density lipoproteins: The bridge between atherosclerosis and autoimmunity. Possible implications in accelerated atherosclerosis and for immune intervention in autoimmune rheumatic disorders.

Atherosclerotic vasculopathy is a multifactorial process causing vessels damage and cardiovascular diseases, the leading causes of death worldwide. Atherosclerotic plaque is the asymptomatic primary, elementary, lesion of atherosclerotic vasculopathy. Accumulation of the oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) at sub endothelial sites is now recognized as one of the major trigger events in plaque formation. The concomitant presence at the plaque site of cells belonging to either natural or adaptive immunity, the detection of autoantibodies to oxLDL, the cross-reactivity of oxLDL with anti-phospholipid antibodies, in addition to the clinical evidence of increased rates of cardiovascular events in several rheumatic diseases, has stimulated intensive research to define interconnections between the immune system and traditional risk factors at the molecular levels in order to explain accelerated atherosclerosis. Here, we critically review the results of previous and recent studies, which have disclosed molecules of both innate or adaptive immunity involved in atherosclerosis, focusing primarily on B cells and autoantibodies, where data are more consolidated. Particular attention has also been paid to molecules that may be predictive markers of atherosclerosis progression and can be potential targets for immune intervention to delay the atherosclerotic process. The latter include CD20 antigen, molecules involved in the BAFF-BAFF receptor axis, inflammatory molecules and modified LDL. The successful results of a recent randomized controlled clinical trial targeting inflammasome with anti-IL1β monoclonal antibody in non-autoimmune conditions, prove that specific immunotherapy can be a promising and effective strategy to control atherosclerosis in rheumatic diseases as well.

The role of extracellular matrix components in angiogenesis and fibrosis: Possible implication for Systemic Sclerosis.

Extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a crucial role in the regulation of both physiological and pathological angiogenesis. ECM homeostasis and function is ensuring by the tightly regulation of the different ECM components including, collagens, proteoglycans and a variety of different glycoproteins. An altered expression of the above ECM molecules as well as an imbalance between the action of matrix remodeling enzymes and their tissue inhibitors is known to be responsible for impaired angiogenesis and fibrosis. Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disease characterized by micro-angiopathy, failure of reparative angiogenesis, and excessive fibrosis of the skin and various internal organs, dues to an increased production of ECM. A comprehensive search through Medline/PubMed and Scopus was performed for English-language original papers, using the keywords related to ECM components and SSc. This review will analyze the role played by ECM components in the deregulation of angiogenic mechanisms and in the persistence of a pro-fibrotic phenotype, during SSc. A better knowledge of these processes might provide information about molecules, which could be considered targets for future pro-angiogenic and/or anti-fibrotic therapies.

Subclinical atherosclerosis and history of cardiovascular events in Italian patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Results from a cross-sectional, multicenter GIRRCS (Gruppo Italiano di Ricerca in Reumatologia Clinica e Sperimentale) study.

Several studies have pointed out a significant association between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and accelerated atherosclerosis. At the best of our knowledge, no such study has been carried out in a large Italian series and, in this study, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of both subclinical atherosclerosis and history of cardiovascular events (CVEs), in patients consecutively admitted from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 to Rheumatology Units throughout the whole Italy.Centers members of GIRRCS (Gruppo Italiano di Ricerca in Reumatologia Clinica e Sperimentale) were invited to enrol patients consecutively admitted from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 and satisfying American College of Rheumatology/ European League Against Rheumatism criteria for RA and to investigate each of them for: traditional cardiovascular risk factors: sex, age, smoking habit, total cholesterol, triglycerides, glycaemia, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome (MS), type 2 diabetes (T2D); RA features: disease duration as assessed from the first symptom, disease activity as evaluated by DAS28, radiographic damage as assessed by hands and feet x-ray, and previous joint surgery; prevalence of both subclinical atherosclerosis and history of CVEs.Eight centers participated to the study. From January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, the 1176 patients, who had been investigated for all the items, were enrolled in the study. They were mostly women (80.52%), with a median age of 60 years (range, 18-91 years), a median disease duration of 12 years (range, 0.8-25 years), seropositive in 69.21%. Nineteen percent were in remission; 17.51% presented low disease activity; 39.45% moderate disease activity; 22.61% high disease activity.Eighty-two patients (6.9%) had a history for CVEs (58 myocardial infarction, 38 heart failure, 10 ischemic transitory attack, and 7 stroke). This figure appears to be lower than that reported worldwide (8.5%). After excluding the 82 patients with a history of CV events, subclinical atherosclerosis was detected in 16% of our patients, (176 patients), a figure lower than that reported worldwide (32.7%) and in previous Italian studies.This is the first Italian multicenter study on subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis in patients with RA. We pointed out a low prevalence of both subclinical atherosclerosis and history of CV events.

Macrophage activation syndrome in Still's disease: analysis of clinical characteristics and survival in paediatric and adult patients.

Macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) is a reactive form of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, complicating Still's disease, both in paediatric and adult patients. In this work, we aimed to investigate clinical picture and outcome of Still's disease patients developing MAS. We performed a retrospective analysis of patients, both paediatrics and adults, affected by Still's disease attending our department. During the follow-up, each patient was investigated for MAS occurrence and possible predictors, clinical and laboratory factors, were analysed. We evaluated 50 patients affected by Still's disease, 21 paediatric and 29 adult patients. Ten patients experienced MAS (five adult and five paediatric patients) and its development significantly reduced the survival rate when compared with patients without this complication (p < 0.0001). The analysis of possible predictors showed that high-value systemic score (p = 0.03) and high levels of serum ferritin (p = 0.002) were independently associated with an increased likelihood of MAS. MAS occurrence significantly reduced survival rate in both paediatric and adult patients affected by Still's disease. The high levels of serum ferritin and an elevated systemic score, at the time of diagnosis, were significantly associated with MAS.

Biologic drugs in adult onset Still's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.

Biological drugs, mainly interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-6 antagonists, but also tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, have been used in the treatment of adult onset Still's disease patients (AOSD).

Advances in immunopathogenesis of macrophage activation syndrome during rheumatic inflammatory diseases: toward new therapeutic targets?

Macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) is a severe, hyperinflammatory life-threatening syndrome, generally complicating different rheumatic diseases. Despite the severity of the disease, little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms and, thus, possible targeted therapies in the management of these patients. Areas covered: In this review, we aimed to update the current pathogenic knowledge of MAS, during rheumatic diseases, focusing mainly on immunologic abnormalities and on new possible therapeutic strategies. Expert commentary: The difficult pathogenic scenario of MAS, in which genetic defects, predisposing diseases, and triggers are mixed together with the high mortality rate, make it difficult to manage these patients. Although most efforts have been focused on investigating the disease in children, in recent years, several studies are trying to elucidate the possible pathogenic mechanism in adult MAS patients. In this context, genetic and immunological studies might lead to advances in the knowledge of pathogenic mechanisms and possible new therapeutic targets. In the future, the results of ongoing clinical trials are awaited in order to improve the management and, thus, the survival of these patients.

Prevalence of type 2 diabetes and impaired fasting glucose in patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis: Results from a cross-sectional study.

Although the better management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has significantly improved the long-term outcome of affected patients, a significant proportion of these may develop associated comorbidities including cardiometabolic complications. However, it must be pointed out that a comprehensive cardiometabolic evaluation is still poorly integrated into the management of RA patients, due to a limited awareness of the problem, a lack of appropriate clinical studies, and optimal strategies for cardiovascular (CV) risk reduction in RA. In addition, although several studies investigated the possible association between traditional CV risk factors and RA, conflicting results are still available.On this basis, we planned this cross-sectional study, aimed at investigating the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG) in RA patients compared with age- and gender- matched control individuals. Furthermore, we analyzed the role of both traditional and RA-related CV risk factors in predicting T2D and IFG.We observed an increased prevalence of T2D in RA patients when compared with age- and gender-matched controls. Regression analyses demonstrated that the presence of high blood pressure (HBP), a longer disease duration, and exposure to corticosteroids (CCS) were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of being classified as T2D. In addition, we observed an increased prevalence of IFG in RA patients when compared with age- and gender-matched controls. Regression analyses demonstrated that a higher body mass index (BMI), the presence of metabolic syndrome (MetS), higher levels of total cholesterol, the presence of radiographic damage, and higher serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of presenting IFG.In this cross-sectional study, we observed an increased prevalence of T2D and IFG in an Italian cohort of RA patients when compared with age- and gender-matched control individuals. Interestingly, both RA-specific features, such as disease duration, CCS exposure, and radiographic damage, and traditional CV risk factors, such as HBP and MetS, were significantly associated with glucose metabolism abnormalities.

Computed Tomography and MR Imaging in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The clinical diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is supported by imaging findings. MR imaging, in particular, can allow an early diagnosis to determine a target therapy that can stop or at least slow the disease progression.

International consensus: What else can we do to improve diagnosis and therapeutic strategies in patients affected by autoimmune rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritides, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome and Sjogren's syndrome)?: The unmet needs and the clinical grey zone in autoimmune disease management.

Autoimmune diseases are a complex set of diseases characterized by immune system activation and, although many progresses have been done in the last 15years, several unmet needs in the management of these patients may be still identified. Recently, a panel of international Experts, divided in different working groups according to their clinical and scientific expertise, were asked to identify, debate and formulate a list of key unmet needs within the field of rheumatology, serving as a roadmap for research as well as support for clinicians. After a systematic review of the literature, the results and the discussions from each working group were summarised in different statements. Due to the differences among the diseases and their heterogeneity, a large number of statements was produced and voted by the Experts to reach a consensus in a plenary session. At all the steps of this process, including the initial discussions by the steering committee, the identification of the unmet needs, the expansion of the working group and finally the development of statements, a large agreement was attained. This work confirmed that several unmet needs may be identified and despite the development of new therapeutic strategies as well as a better understanding of the effects of existing therapies, many open questions still remain in this field, suggesting a research agenda for the future and specific clinical suggestions which may allow physicians to better manage those clinical conditions still lacking of scientific clarity.

Poor clinical response in rheumatoid arthritis is the main risk factor for diabetes development in the short-term: A 1-year, single-centre, longitudinal study.

Despite of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) provided different sets of recommendations for the management of cardiovascular risk in inflammatory arthritis patients, it must be pointed out that cardiometabolic comorbidity, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D), remains still underdiagnosed and undertreated in patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Response to Interleukin-1 Inhibitors in 140 Italian Patients with Adult-Onset Still's Disease: A Multicentre Retrospective Observational Study.

Background: