The sudden deaths of Francesco I de’ Medici (1531-1587), Second Grand Duke of Tuscany (Figure 1a), and his wife, Bianca Cappello (1548-1587), have been shrouded in mystery, and the cause of death has been debated for the past 4 centuries. Cancellous bone was harvested from a vertebra of Francesco I. Bone samples of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who died of pneumonia, and his daughter-in-law, Joan of Austria, who died in childbirth, were used as negative controls. In addition, 2 medieval bone samples from 2 sites known to be free from malaria (Briançon, France, 17th century; Augsburg, Germany, 14th century) also were used as negative controls. Extracts prepared from spongy bone samples were examined for the presence of P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 and P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase using 2 commercial qualitative double-antibody immunoassays: Malaria Antigen RAPYDTEST and Malaria Detect RAPYDTEST (DiaSys, Waterbury, Conn). Positive results were obtained from both dipstick assays. We therefore provide the first biological evidence of the presence of both P. falciparum ancient proteins (P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 and P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase) in the skeletal remains of Francesco I de’ Medici. No mixed falciparum infections or non-falciparum infections were identified. Bone samples from Cosimo I, Joan of Austria, and control samples were all negative, as expected. Our recent findings support the detailed medical documents recorded by court physicians who carefully described the different stages of the sudden illness that affected the Grand Duke Francesco I until his demise. Muscle has, thus far, been considered the best tissue for the detection of P. falciparum malaria because of its abundant red cell content.6 We now show that malaria antigens also can be detected in ancient bone samples. With the use of modern methods, we provide robust evidence that Francesco I had falciparum malaria at the time of his death. Our immunologic results confirm the archival sources that described the onset, course, and fatal outcome of the disease. Our findings also absolve Ferdinando I from the shameful allegation of being the murderer of his brother and sister-in-law.
|Autori:||FORNACIARI G; GIUFFRA V; FERROGLIO E; BIANUCCI R|
|Titolo:||Malaria was the killer of Francesco I de' Medici (1531-1587)|
|Anno del prodotto:||2010|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|