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  • Author or Editor: Alessandro D'Elia x
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Maurizio Salvati, Angelo Pichierri, Manolo Piccirilli, Giacoma Maria Floriana Brunetto, Alessandro D'Elia, Spartaco Artizzu, Francesca Santoro, Antonietta Arcella, Felice Giangaspero, Alessandro Frati, Luca Simione and Antonio Santoro


In this paper, the authors' goal was to evaluate the prognostic value of YKL-40 expression as a prognostic factor for glioblastomas and to compare its validity to the already known MGMT.


Between January 2002 and January 2007, 105 patients were treated for cerebral glioblastoma. The extent of removal was classified in 4 groups. YKL-40 expression was evaluated by a semiquantitative immunohistochemical staining scale (0, no staining; 1, mild expression; and 2, strong expression). MGMT promoter methylation status was analyzed with methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. All patients received adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Kaplan-Meier curves were used to analyze progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS), and to compare these parameters between the subgroups stratified by extent of surgical removal, MGMT methylation, and YKL-40 expression. The log-rank test was used to determine statistical significance. A multivariate regression analysis was applied to extent of removal, YKL-40 expression, and MGMT status to check their specific statistical power and to test the independence of the variables.


There were 55 men and 50 women with a mean age of 58 years. Extent of surgical removal is reported. The MGMT promoter was methylated in 48 patients and nonmethylated in 57. Analysis of YKL-40 expression is reported. The median PFS was 10.7 months (14.9 months in the gross-total removal subgroup) (p < 0.0001), and the median OS was 12.5 months (17.4 months in the gross-total removal group) (p < 0.0001). In the univariate analysis, OS was significantly correlated to the extent of resection (p < 0.0001), MGMT status (p < 0.0001), and YKL-40 (p < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that all 3 factors reached statistical significance with respect to patient survival. In particular, surgical removal contributed more than the 2 other factors to the survival prediction (β = −0.6254). Interestingly, YKL-40 (β = −0.3867) contributed more than MGMT (β = −0.1705) to the predicted survival.


The extent of removal is the most important factor influencing the OS of patients harboring glioblastomas. When biological aggressiveness is taken into account, YKL-40 expression was found to be an independent prognostic factor that predicts OS better than MGMT status.

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Maurizio Domenicucci, Demo Eugenio Dugoni, Cristina Mancarella, Alessandro D'Elia and Paolo Missori

A review of early 20th century literature regarding fractures of the atlas led the authors to discover a paper written in Italian by Professor Vincenzo Quercioli in 1908, at that time an assistant surgeon at the University of Siena. The work was published in the journal Il Policlinico, which at that time was directed by Professor Francesco Durante. The paper described the first case of a quadripartite fracture of the atlas, and it accurately reported the mechanism of injury, symptoms, neurological examination, treatment, complications, and cause of death of the patient.

Quercioli performed an autopsy on the patient and gave a detailed description of anatomopathological features. In particular, he identified the 4 symmetrical fracture lines related to the arches of the atlas and the substantial integrity of the atlantoaxial ligaments, particularly the transverse ligament. Based on those findings, Quercioli concluded that the mechanism of trauma was an axial force. This force passed through the center of the vertebral ring and caused symmetrical displacement and compression of the articular masses.

These concepts of dynamic physics led Quercioli to conclude that, because the atlas is wedge shaped, the masses of the atlas reacted to stress by moving away from the center. This reaction resulted in stretching the front and rear arches, which then fractured at their 4 points of weakness. The integrity of the spinal cord was intact, based on a negative neurological examination for CNS lesions. Thus, he concluded that these injuries were not fatal and could be cured by appropriate treatment with a Minerva cast and, in the presence of swallowing disorders, with a nasogastric tube.

The case described by Quercioli was later mentioned in two classic works on atlas fractures by Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, published in 1920 and 1927. In those works, Jefferson proposed his classification of 5 different anatomopathological classes; this work is widely cited in the literature and should be considered a classic. The patterns and deductions that Jefferson reported on these fractures appeared to draw upon the scientific experience of Quercioli and his description of the quadripartite atlas fracture, which appeared to be unique, even in Jefferson's review. Therefore, the authors believe that they have identified another scientist and pioneer of the atlas fracture in Professor Vincenzo Quercioli. With his brilliant insights, which remain useful and valid, Quercioli led the way to further research on the subject.