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  RESEARCH ACTIVITY > Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche, Biochimiche e Cellulari  
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche, Biochimiche e Cellulari
Research Group

University of Sassari
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche, Biochimiche e Cellulari
Via Muroni, 25 - 07100 Sassari, Italy

Background and specific aims
The main interest of the research group is the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases.
Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial disease in which hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and other risk factors are thought to play a role. However, the mechanisms underlying plaque formation and progression are still largely unknown. The rupture of the atherosclerotic plaque is the predominant underlying process in the pathogenesis of acute coronary syndromes and peripheral vascular disease. The early event seems to be the selective retention of apo B-100 containing lipoproteins in the intima layer of arteries mediated from specific interactions with some extracellular matrix elements, especially proteoglycans (PGs). Retained lipoproteins undergo oxidative and proteolytic modifications that make them pro-atherogens. There are uncertainties about the definition of plaque rupture and availability of specific markers to identify plaques prone to rupture in vivo although it is generally held that plaque instability is caused by a substantial increase in proteolytic activity and inflammatory state.
Our studies are intended to investigate the molecular processes involved in atherosclerotic plaque formation and destabilization and eventually to individuate some plasma and/or tissue biomarkers.
Another our main interest is the study of extracellular matrix of cardiac valves in relation to different valve graft preparation protocols (cryopreservation, decellularization, and cell repopulation for tissue engineering). Cardiac valves are specialized forms of cardiovascular connective tissue designed to bear high mechanical stresses during the normal cardiac cycle. Their substitution with appropriate grafts represents today the most common surgical technique in order to face cardiac diseases. Numerous studies suggest that the ECM structural and functional integrity maintenance is of basic importance for the valve substitute performance and post-implant outcome.
Research projects
• Content, distribution and structural analysis of GAGs/PGs in both plasma and arterial samples;
• Proteomic and lipoproteomic analysis of carotid atherosclerotic plaque extracts;
• Analysis of some protein oxidative modifications at both plasma and tissue level (protein thiolation, HNE-protein adduct formation, carbonylation);
• Interaction between arterial PGs and lipoproteins;
• Content, distribution and structural analysis of GAGs/PGs in aortic valves;
• Analysis of urinary GAGs/PGs in some physio-pathological conditions.
Facilities and equipment
Ultracentrifuges (Beckman instruments), HPLC (Beckman instruments), CZE (Beckman Instruments), 2D electrophoresis apparatus (Amersham Biosciences).

Recent pubblications
A novel LIF-capillary electrophoresis method for the separation of hyaluronan- and chondroitin sulfate-derived disaccharides: Application to structural and quantitative analysis of human plasma low and high charged chondroitin sulfate isomers. - Zinellu A, Pisanu S, Zinellu E, Lepedda AJ, Cherchi GM, Sotgia S, Carru C, Deiana L, Formato M. - Electrophoresis, accepted for pubblication. ( 2007 )
Factors affecting S-homocysteinylation of LDL apoprotein B. - Zinellu A, Zinellu E, Sotgia S, Formato M, Cherchi GM, Deiana L, Carru C. - Clin Chem 52: 2054-9. ( 2006 )
Effect of cryopreservation techniques on aortic valve glycosaminoglycans. - Dainese L, Barili F, Topkara VK, Cheema FH, Formato M, Aljaber E, Fusari M, Micheli B, Guarino A, Biglioli P, Polvani G. - Artif Organs 30: 259-64. ( 2006 )
Evidence for a proinflammatory and proteolytic environment in plaques from endarterectomy segments of human carotid arteries. - Formato M, Farina M, Spirito R, Maggioni M, Guarino A, Cherchi GM, Biglioli P, Edelstein C, Scanu AM. - Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 24: 129-35. ( 2004 )
Distribution of low-density lipoprotein-bound low-molecular-weight thiols: a new analytical approach. - Zinellu A, Sotgia S, Zinellu E, Formato M, Manca S, Magliona S, Ginanneschi R, Deiana L, Carru C. - Electrophoresis 27: 2575-81. ( 206 )

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