Prof. Mario Principato’s Scientific Research Activity
Prof. Principato carried on a large number of scientific researches in medical and veterinary entomology and acarology, publishing n. 261 scientific works on national and international journals and he patented and published a new dignostic method, “Esame Diretto delle Polveri Ambientali (Indoor Dust Direct Examination) (E.D.P.A.®)”, today prescribed by many dermatologists to determine the possible environmental cause of indoor dermatitis.
A work of relevant scientific interest is the book on the E.D.P.A.® whose title is “Artropodi di interesse dermatologico in ambiente confinato” published by him with the collaboration of the Clinic of Dermatology of the Hospital of Perugia and supported by the Italian Society for Professional and Environmental Allergology and Dermatology (SIDAPA).
He is the author and formulator of n. 13 patents, realized in his laboratory, on low environmental impact compounds to control pathogenic insects and mites, some of them sold to international companies. He is the founder of the Urania Center of Research of Perugia, where routinously diagnostic tests are carried out using the method E.D.P.A.®. The laboratory of the Urania Center of Research displays some of the 150 entomological showcases, realized by him, and collecting over 22.000 arthropods from all over the world, together with a rich collection of insects and mites preserved in liquid and glass slides, counting over 50.000 specimens of pathogenic arthropods of medical and veterinary interest.
One of his last discovery is the “Scabies test“, a new diagnostic method to detect human scabies, undirectly, examinating the dust of the patient’s bedroom who is suspected to have the infectious pathology, and ALISTAG™ an innovative food additive, for aging ham and cheese, that solves the damages caused by mites in ageing and storaging rooms.
Prof. Principato has been studying for many years the morpho-biological aspect of the diptera that cause myiasis, flies whose larvae determine pathologies in humans and animals (EV 1-20; 22-29).
He was the first one to classify the lesions caused by the flies of the genre Gasterophilus in the digestive apparatus of the horses (EV 8) and pointed out, for the first time in Italy, some human parasitic zoonosis due to the larvae of this fly, coming from animals (Gasterophilosis, Hypodermosis, Oestrosis) (EM 5-8).
He was the first one to point out the entrance in Italy of the dangerous fly, Wohlfahrtia magnifica, that cause myiasis in livestock (EV 28).
Among his entomological studies there are also works on the life cycle of Pediculus humanus capitis (human lice), of which he pointed out, for the first time, the resistence of its eggs in the environment, explaning the reason of the continuous relapses.
He discovered the cause of the so called “Syndrome of the broken tail of pheasants”, a coleoptera Dermestidae able to cut off the tail and wings of these birds, causing their economic depreciation.
His most important contribution, in the entomological field, was the application of the method, patented by him, called E.D.P.A.® (Esame Diretto delle Polveri Ambientali) to detect pathogenic arthropods that cause indoor dermatitis in humans.
In particular, he classified and pointed out, for the first time, some cases of human indoor dermatitis, caused by the stings of several insects, some new for the Italian fauna, like the stinging ants, Solenopsis fugax and Monomorium salomonis (EM 9, 31).
Prof. Principato is a passionate acarologist who has been studying parasite mites of animals and humans for several years, identifying new species and new varieties.
He gave the name to a new genre and three new species (whose names were dedicated to his children and wife) of mites that cause mange in the turtle dove (Sunknemidokoptes) (AV 57) and a new variety of mites of the genre Demodex (D. brevis var. capitis) that colonize the pilo-sebaceous complex of people affected by seborrheic baldness (AM 69,70). He has been studying for several years the relation between this mite and human skin, trying to test different topical treatments to solve the infestation. He also carried on some studies on Sarcoptes scabiei the mite that cause human and animal scabies, studying experimentally on himself its time of penetration into the skin, before the outbreak of the scabies pathology (AM 35, 36). He studied the development of this mite in the animal skin, coming out to the fact that Sarcoptes scabiei is a mite still in “morphological adaptation” and so, it is able to develop in the skin of any mammal, human included, morphologically changing its “Idiosomal chaetotaxy” (AV 10, 29).
In the veterinary field, he pointed out new pathologies caused by mites on birds, such as laminosioptic mange (AV 1) and the dermatophagus mange of poultry (AV 2), nodular arpirincosis of passeriformes (AV 24) and also new species in Italy, such as Ornitocheyletia megaphallos (AV 41) or Euschoengastia donaldi (AV 47).
In the acarological field, as well, Prof. Principato reached important results with the application of the method E.D.P.A.® in the indoor environment. He discovers new arthropods, cause of human pathologies, such as Sancassania berlesei, which cause vulo-vaginitis (AM 43); Tydeus molestus new mite in Italy, which cause strophuloid lesions in humans (M 56, 59), Aeroglyphus robustus, which cause scabies-like dermatitis (AM 78).
In collaboration with doctors of the Clinic of Dermatology of the Hospital of Perugia, he describes a new human pathology, scabies-like, originated by indoor mites of the genre Glycyphagus and Lepidoglyphus and names it “Glycyphagosis” (AM 19).
In 1993, he was the first one to point out the association between the parasite Pyemotes ventricosus , and Oligomerus ptilinoides, the common woodworm (AM 4). He demonstrated, through the E.D.P.A.®, that this mite can cause severe indoor human dermatitis, and not only professional dermatitis due to the manipulation of straw or grain infested (It used to be called “The grain itch mite” or “Straw itch mite”). He demonstrated, with lot of studies, that the indoor environment is often colonized by this mite and it can cause later on dermatitis. He identified new species, some of them new in Italy, and set new strategies to solve the environmental problem and consequently the dermatitis. Today, his method E.D.P.A.®, that was presented to a lot of meetings of dermatologists, has bacame a routine test and it is prescribed by dermatologists from all over Italy (AM 20).
An interesting variant of this method, that Prof. Principato studied with his daughter Simona, biotechnologist, is the “Scabies test”, a new method to diagnose scabies at distance, detecting the presence of the mite in the human scales found in the dust of the bedroom of the patient suspected to have scabies (AM 74).
Prof. Principato also discovered the origin of the dermatitis and the itching of the workers of the companies that produce ham and cheese. He detected the presence of two important mites of dermatological interest (Glycyphagus and Lepidoglyphus) which infest these food products and hide among other colonies of the well known and harmless mite of the genre Tyrophagus. Their presence on food products makes them dangerous to humans (AM 24, 40). Glycyphagus domesticus has become nowdays in Italy the second cause of allergic dermatitis caused by arthropods (AM 42, 48), preceded by Pyemotes ventricosus, the mite associated to old furniture.
He pointed out, for the first time in Umbria, the bites and the spread of two dangerous spiders that cause necrosis and paresis (Cheiracantium punctorium) (AP 1,2) and also systemic symptoms that could take the individual to death (Loxosceles rufescens) (AP 3).