Roberto Gradini

IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed, Poczilli, Molise, Italy

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Publications (50)211.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The question in the title: 'what's new?' has two facets. First, are 'clinical' expectations met with success? Second, is the number of CNS disorders targeted by mGlu drugs still increasing? The answer to the first question is 'no', because development program with promising drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Fragile X syndrome have been discontinued. Nonetheless, we continue to be optimistic because there is still the concrete hope that some of these drugs are beneficial in targeted subpopulations of patients. The answer to the second question is 'yes', because mGlu ligands are promising targets for 'new' disorders such as type-1 spinocerebellar ataxia and absence epilepsy. In addition, the increasing availability of pharmacological tools may push mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptors into the clinical scenario. After almost 30 years from their discovery, mGlu receptors are still alive. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Current Opinion in Pharmacology 12/2014; 20C:89-94. · 5.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a genetic disorder characterized by severe ataxia associated with progressive loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells. The mGlu1 metabotropic glutamate receptor plays a key role in mechanisms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum, and its dysfunction is linked to the pathophysiology of motor symptoms associated with SCA1. We used SCA1 heterozygous transgenic mice (Q154/Q2) as a model for testing the hypothesis that drugs that enhance mGlu1 receptor function may be good candidates for the medical treatment of SCA1. Symptomatic 30-week old SCA1 mice showed reduced mGlu1 receptor mRNA and protein levels in the cerebellum. Interestingly, these mice also showed an intense expression of mGlu5 receptors in cerebellar Purkinje cells, which normally lack these receptors. Systemic treatment of SCA1 mice with the mGlu1 receptor positive allosteric modulator (PAM), Ro0711401 (10 mg/kg, s.c.), caused a prolonged improvement of motor performance on the rotarod and the paw-print tests. A single injection of Ro0711401 improved motor symptoms for several days, and no tolerance developed to the drug. In contrast, the mGlu5 receptor PAM, VU0360172 (10 mg/kg, s.c.), caused only a short-lasting improvement of motor symptoms, whereas the mGlu1 receptor antagonist, JNJ16259685 (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.), further impaired motor performance in SCA1 mice. The prolonged symptomatic benefit caused by Ro0711401 outlasted the time of drug clearance from the cerebellum, and was associated with neuroadaptive changes in the cerebellum, such as a striking reduction of the ectopically expressed mGlu5 receptors in Purkinje cells, increases in levels of total and Ser880-phosphorylated GluA2 subunit of AMPA receptors, and changes in the length of spines in the distal dendrites of Purkinje cells. These data demonstrate that pharmacological enhancement of mGlu1 receptors causes a robust and sustained motor improvement in SCA1 mice, and lay the groundwork for the development of mGlu1 receptor PAMs as novel "cerebellum-specific", effective, and safe symptomatic drugs for the treatment of SCA1 in humans.
    Molecular Brain 11/2013; 6(1):48. · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Repeated injections of the antibiotic ceftriaxone cause analgesia in rodents by upregulating the glutamate transporter, GLT-1. No evidence is available in humans. We studied the effect of a single intravenous administration of ceftriaxone in patients undergoing decompressive surgery of the median or ulnar nerves. Forty-five patients were randomized to receive saline, ceftriaxone (2 g), or cefazolin (2 g), 1 hour before surgery. Cefazolin, which is structurally related to ceftriaxone, was used as a negative control. Pain thresholds were measured 10 minutes before drug injections and then 4 to 6 hours after surgery. Ceftriaxone caused analgesia in all patients, whereas cefazolin was inactive. We also performed animal studies to examine whether a single dose of ceftriaxone was sufficient to induce analgesia. A single intraperitoneal injection of ceftriaxone (200 mg/kg), but not cefazoline (200 mg/kg), caused analgesia in mouse models of inflammatory or postsurgical pain, and upregulated GLT-1 in the spinal cord. Ceftriaxone-induced analgesia was additive to that produced by blockade of mGlu5 receptors, which are activated by extrasynaptic glutamate. These data indicate that a single dose of ceftriaxone causes analgesia in humans and mice and suggest that ceftriaxone should be used for preoperative antimicrobial prophylaxis when a fast relief of pain is desired. PERSPECTIVE: The study reports for the first time that a single preoperative dose of ceftriaxone causes analgesia in humans. A single dose of ceftriaxone could also relieve inflammatory and postsurgical pain and upregulate GLT-1 expression in mice. Ceftriaxone should be preferred to other antibiotics for antimicrobial prophylaxis to reduce postoperative pain.
    The journal of pain: official journal of the American Pain Society 06/2013; 14(6):604-612. · 3.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pharmacological activation of type-2 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlu2 receptors) causes analgesia in experimental models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Presynaptic mGlu2 receptors are activated by the glutamate released from astrocytes by means of the cystine/glutamate antiporter (System xc- or Sxc-). We examined the analgesic activity of the Sxc- activator, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), in mice developing inflammatory or neuropathic pain. RESULTS: A single injection of NAC (100 mg/kg, i.p.) reduced nocifensive behavior in the second phase of the formalin test. NAC-induced analgesia was abrogated by the Sxc- inhibitor, sulphasalazine (8 mg/kg, i.p.) or by the mGlu2/3 receptor antagonist, LY341495 (1 mg/kg, i.p.). NAC still caused analgesia in mGlu3-/- mice, but was inactive in mGlu2-/- mice. In wild-type mice, NAC retained the analgesic activity in the formalin test when injected daily for 7 days, indicating the lack of tolerance. Both single and repeated injections of NAC also caused analgesia in the complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) model of chronic inflammatory pain, and, again, analgesia was abolished by LY341495. Data obtained in mice developing neuropathic pain in response to chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve were divergent. In this model, a single injection of NAC caused analgesia that was reversed by LY341495, whereas repeated injections of NAC were ineffective. Thus, tolerance to NAC-induced analgesia developed in the CCI model, but not in models of inflammatory pain. The CFA and CCI models differed with respect to the expression levels of xCT (the catalytic subunit of Sxc-) and activator of G-protein signaling type-3 (AGS3) in the dorsal portion of the lumbar spinal cord. CFA-treated mice showed no change in either protein, whereas CCI mice showed an ipislateral reduction in xCT levels and a bilateral increase in AGS3 levels in the spinal cord. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that pharmacological activation of Sxc- causes analgesia by reinforcing the endogenous activation of mGlu2 receptors. NAC has an excellent profile of safety and tolerability when clinically used as a mucolytic agent or in the management of acetaminophen overdose. Thus, our data encourage the use of NAC for the experimental treatment of inflammatory pain in humans.
    Molecular Pain 10/2012; 8(1):77. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epidemiological studies suggest that emotional liability in infancy could be a predictor of anxiety-related disorders in the adulthood. Rats exposed to prenatal restraint stress ("PRS rats") represent a valuable model for the study of the interplay between environmental triggers and neurodevelopment in the pathogenesis of anxious/depressive like behaviours. Repeated episodes of restraint stress were delivered to female Sprague-Dawley rats during pregnancy and male offspring were studied. Ultrasonic vocalization (USV) was assessed in pups under different behavioural paradigms. After weaning, anxiety was measured by conventional tests. Expression of GABA(A) receptor subunits and metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors was assessed by immunoblotting. Plasma leptin levels were measured using a LINCOplex bead assay kit. The offspring of stressed dams emitted more USVs in response to isolation from their mothers and showed a later suppression of USV production when exposed to an unfamiliar male odour, indicating a pronounced anxiety-like profile. Anxiety like behaviour in PRS pups persisted one day after weaning. PRS pups did not show the plasma peak in leptin levels that is otherwise seen at PND14. In addition, PRS pups showed a reduced expression of the γ2 subunit of GABA(A) receptors in the amygdala at PND14 and PND22, an increased expression of mGlu5 receptors in the amygdala at PND22, a reduced expression of mGlu5 receptors in the hippocampus at PND14 and PND22, and a reduced expression of mGlu2/3 receptors in the hippocampus at PND22. These data offer a clear-cut demonstration that the early programming triggered by PRS could be already translated into anxiety-like behaviour during early postnatal life.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 03/2012; 37(10):1646-58. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the role of endogenous dopamine (DA) in regulating the number of intrinsic tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (TH(+)) striatal neurons using mice at postnatal day (PND) 4 to 8, a period that corresponds to the developmental peak in the number of these neurons. We adopted the strategy of depleting endogenous DA by a 2-day treatment with α-methyl-p-tyrosine (αMpT, 150 mg/kg, i.p.). This treatment markedly increased the number of striatal TH(+) neurons, assessed by stereological counting, and the increase was highly correlated to the extent of DA loss. Interestingly, TH(+) neurons were found closer to the clusters of DA fibers after DA depletion, indicating that the concentration gradient of extracellular DA critically regulates the distribution of striatal TH(+) neurons. A single i.p. injection of the D1 receptor antagonist, SCH23390 (0.1 mg/kg), the D2/D3 receptor antagonist, raclopride (0.1 mg/kg), or the D4 receptor antagonist, L-745,870 (5 mg/kg) in mice at PND4 also increased the number of TH(+) neurons after 4 days. Treatment with the D1-like receptor agonist SKF38393 (10 mg/kg) or with the D2-like receptor agonist, quinpirole (1 mg/kg) did not change the number of TH(+) neurons. At least the effects of SCH23390 were prevented by a combined treatment with SKF38393. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that striatal TH(+) neurons expressed D2 and D4 receptors, but not D1 receptors. Moreover, treatment with the α4β2 receptor antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE) (3.2 mg/kg) also increased the number of TH(+) neurons. The evidence that DHβE mimicked the action of SCH23390 in increasing the number of TH(+) neurons supports the hypothesis that activation of D1 receptors controls the number of striatal TH(+) neurons by enhancing the release of acetylcholine. These data demonstrate for the first time that endogenous DA negatively regulates the number of striatal TH(+) neurons by direct and indirect mechanisms mediated by multiple DA receptor subtypes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e44025. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study is to evaluate the roles of TGFs β1 and β2, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and nerve growth factor (NGF) in the pathogenesis of idiopathic epiretinal membrane (ERM). Eight patients, six males and two females, with an average age of 60.25 ± 17.16 years (range, 33-75 years) who were affected by idiopathic ERM were enrolled in the study. All patients underwent standard pars plana vitrectomy surgery with membrane removal and specific ELISA was performed to evaluate TGFβ1, TGFβ2, GDNF, and NGF in the vitreous samples. This was repeated after acidification of the samples with hydrochloric acid. Before acidification, ELISA analysis revealed a significant increase of TGFβ2 in the samples with idiopathic ERM (327.98 ± 99.58 pg/mL; range, 206.864-466.235 pg/mL) compared to the control group (187.17 ± 58.20 pg/mL; range, 132.758-271.707 pg/mL; t = 3.4; P < 0.05). A statistically significant difference was also obtained after acidification of the samples (618.15 ± 201.43 pg/mL; range, 409.795-866.215 pg/mL compared to 265.04 ± 98.15 pg/mL; range, 152.478-352.101 pg/mL; t = 4.5; P < 0.05). Notably, before acidification the differences in NGF between the two groups were not statistically significant (t = 0.79; P = 0.46), while after acidification a significant increase of the NGF levels in ERM samples was found in comparison with the control group (723.41 ± 235.4 vs. 242.84 ± 104.61; t = 3; P < 0.05). The present study reveals that TGFβ2 and NGF are associated with idiopathic ERMs, suggesting a novel compensatory mechanism so far never proposed.
    Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 06/2011; 52(8):5786-9. · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Eight-month old WAG/Rij rats, which developed spontaneous occurring absence seizures, showed a reduced function of mGlu1 metabotropic glutamate receptors in the thalamus, as assessed by in vivo measurements of DHPG-stimulated polyphosphoinositide hydrolysis, in the presence of the mGlu5 antagonist MPEP as compared to age-matched non-epileptic control rats. These symptomatic 8-month old WAG/Rij rats also showed lower levels of thalamic mGlu1α receptors than age-matched controls and 2-month old (pre-symptomatic) WAG/Rij rats, as detected by immunoblotting. Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization analysis indicated that the reduced expression of mGlu1 receptors found in symptomatic WAG/Rij rats was confined to an area of the thalamus that excluded the ventroposterolateral nucleus. No mGlu1 receptor mRNA was detected in the reticular thalamic nucleus. Pharmacological manipulation of mGlu1 receptors had a strong impact on absence seizures in WAG/Rij rats. Systemic treatment with the mGlu1 receptor enhancer SYN119, corresponding to compound RO0711401, reduced spontaneous spike and wave discharges spike-wave discharges (SWDs) in epileptic rats. Subcutaneous doses of 10 mg/kg of SYN119 only reduced the incidence of SWDs, whereas higher doses (30 mg/kg) also reduced the mean duration of SWDs. In contrast, treatment with the non-competitive mGlu1 receptor antagonist, JNJ16259685 (2.5 and 5 mg/kg, i.p.) increased the incidence of SWDs. These data suggest that absence epilepsy might be associated with a reduction of mGlu1 receptors in the thalamus, and that compounds that amplify the activity of mGlu1 receptors might be developed as novel anti-absence drugs. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Trends in neuropharmacology: in memory of Erminio Costa'.
    Neuropharmacology 06/2011; 60(7-8):1281-91. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The delayed conditioned eyeblink reflex, in which an individual learns to close the eyelid in response to a conditioned stimulus (e.g. a tone) relies entirely on the functional integrity of a cerebellar motor circuitry that involves the contingent activation of Purkinje cells by parallel and climbing fibres. Molecular changes that disrupt the function of this circuitry, in particular a loss of type-1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlu1 receptors), occur in Purkinje cells of patients with multiple sclerosis and in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis as a result of neuroinflammation. mGlu1 receptors are required for cerebellar motor learning associated with the conditioned eyeblink reflex. We propose that the delayed paradigm of the eyeblink conditioning might be particularly valuable for the detection of subtle abnormalities of cerebellar motor learning that are clinically silent and are not associated with demyelinating lesions or axonal damage. In addition, the test might have predictive value following a clinically isolated syndrome, and might be helpful for the evaluation of the efficacy of drug treatment in multiple sclerosis.
    Multiple Sclerosis 05/2011; 17(10):1155-61. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The identification of mechanisms that mediate stress-induced hippocampal damage may shed new light into the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and provide new targets for therapeutic intervention. We focused on the secreted glycoprotein Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1), an inhibitor of the canonical Wnt pathway, involved in neurodegeneration. Mice exposed to mild restraint stress showed increased hippocampal levels of Dkk-1 and reduced expression of β-catenin, an intracellular protein positively regulated by the canonical Wnt signalling pathway. In adrenalectomized mice, Dkk-1 was induced by corticosterone injection, but not by exposure to stress. Corticosterone also induced Dkk-1 in mouse organotypic hippocampal cultures and primary cultures of hippocampal neurons and, at least in the latter model, the action of corticosterone was reversed by the type-2 glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone. To examine whether induction of Dkk-1 was causally related to stress-induced hippocampal damage, we used doubleridge mice, which are characterized by a defective induction of Dkk-1. As compared to control mice, doubleridge mice showed a paradoxical increase in basal hippocampal Dkk-1 levels, but no Dkk-1 induction in response to stress. In contrast, stress reduced Dkk-1 levels in doubleridge mice. In control mice, chronic stress induced a reduction in hippocampal volume associated with neuronal loss and dendritic atrophy in the CA1 region, and a reduced neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. Doubleridge mice were resistant to the detrimental effect of chronic stress and, instead, responded to stress with increases in dendritic arborisation and neurogenesis. Thus, the outcome of chronic stress was tightly related to changes in Dkk-1 expression in the hippocampus. These data indicate that induction of Dkk-1 is causally related to stress-induced hippocampal damage and provide the first evidence that Dkk-1 expression is regulated by corticosteroids in the central nervous system. Drugs that rescue the canonical Wnt pathway may attenuate hippocampal damage in major depression and other stress-related disorders.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(1):e16447. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Clinical neuropharmacology 01/2009; 32(2):119. · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Point and octapeptide repeat (24 bp) insertional mutations in the prion protein gene (PRNP) cause a dominantly transmitted dementia, associated with spongiform degeneration of the brain, astrocytic gliosis and neuronal loss due to cell accumulation of mutated protease resistant prion protein. The octapeptide repeat region lies between codon 51 and 91, and comprises a nonapeptide followed by a tandem repeat containing four copies of an octapeptide. The normal tandem length in healthy individuals is five repeats R1-R2-R2-R3-R4, but mutations can contain up to nine additional extra repeats. Some insight into this genetic mechanism comes from the de novo meiotic insertional extra repeat mutation in PRNP we detected in a patient whose parents had a normal phenotype and a wild-type sequence in the same gene. To our knowledge, this is the first time this condition has been described.
    Case Reports 01/2009; 2009.
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    ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that changes in the expression of membrane receptors/ion channels in cerebellar Purkinje cells contribute to the onset of cerebellar motor symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). We examined the expression of group-I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlu1 and mGlu5 receptors) in the cerebellum of mice developing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and in autoptic cerebellar samples of MS patients. EAE was induced in mice by immunization with the 35-55 fragment of MOG (myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein). EAE mice showed a progressive loss of mGlu1a receptors in the cerebellum, associated with an increased expression of mGlu5 receptors. These changes were restricted to Purkinje cells and their dendritic arborization, as shown by immunohistochemistry. A reduced expression of mGlu1a receptors in cerebellar Purkinje cells was also found in 7 of 9 MS patients. In addition, a light/moderate to very strong mGlu5 receptor immunoreactivity was detected in Purkinje cells of 8 MS patients, but was always absent in non-MS control patients. In EAE mice, an acute treatment with the mGlu1 receptor enhancer, 9H-xanthene-9-carboxylic acid (4-trifluoromethyl-oxazol-2-yl)-amide (RO0711401), significantly improved motor coordination, whereas treatment with the mGlu5 receptor antagonists, 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine (MPEP) and 6-methyl-2-(phenylazo)-3-pyridinol (SIB-1757), had no effect. We conclude that mGlu1 receptor enhancers improve motor symptoms associated with EAE and might be helpful as symptomatic drugs in patients with MS.
    Neuropharmacology 08/2008; 55(4):491-9. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glycosphingolipids are essential components of plasma membrane and act as antigens, mediators of cell adhesion, and modulators of signal transduction. Following activation of the Fas receptor, gangliosides are recuited in various intracellular compartments. We have evaluated whether the pro-apoptotic anti-CD95 antibody induces a nuclear localization of GD3 in HUT-78 cells. Our data shows that GD3 translocation from cytosol to nuclei is strongly correlated to concomitant rapid phosphorylation of histone H1 shortly after induction of apoptosis. This work advances the hypothesis that GD3 induces a post-translational modification of histone H1 thus influencing the apoptosis process through transcriptional activation/repression of specific genes.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 05/2008; 368(3):495-500. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) ("Ecstasy") produces neurotoxic effects, which result into an impairment of learning and memory and other neurological dysfunctions. We examined whether MDMA induces increases in tau protein phosphorylation, which are typically associated with Alzheimer's disease and other chronic neurodegenerative disorders. We injected mice with MDMA at cumulative doses of 10-50 mg/kg intraperitoneally, which are approximately equivalent to doses generally consumed by humans. MDMA enhanced the formation of reactive oxygen species and induced reactive gliosis in the hippocampus, without histological evidence of neuronal loss. An acute or 6 d treatment with MDMA increased tau protein phosphorylation in the hippocampus, revealed by both anti-phospho(Ser(404))-tau and paired helical filament-1 antibodies. This increase was restricted to the CA2/CA3 subfields and lasted 1 and 7 d after acute and repeated MDMA treatment, respectively. Tau protein was phosphorylated as a result of two nonredundant mechanisms: (1) inhibition of the canonical Wnt (wingless-type MMTV integration site family) pathway, with ensuing activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta; and (2) activation of type-5 cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk5). MDMA induced the expression of the Wnt antagonist, Dickkopf-1, and the expression of the Cdk5-activating protein, p25. In addition, the increase in tau phosphorylation was attenuated by strategies that rescued the Wnt pathway or inhibited Cdk5. Finally, an impairment in hippocampus-dependent spatial learning was induced by doses of MDMA that increased tau phosphorylation, although the impairment outlasted this biochemical event. We conclude that tau hyperphosphorylation in the hippocampus may contribute to the impairment of learning and memory associated with MDMA abuse.
    Journal of Neuroscience 04/2008; 28(12):3234-45. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal Restraint Stress (PRS) in rats is a validated model of early stress resulting in permanent behavioral and neurobiological outcomes. Although sexual dimorphism in the effects of PRS has been hypothesized for more than 30 years, few studies in this long period have directly addressed the issue. Our group has uncovered a pronounced gender difference in the effects of PRS (stress delivered to the mothers 3 times per day during the last 10 days of pregnancy) on anxiety, spatial learning, and a series of neurobiological parameters classically associated with hippocampus-dependent behaviors. Adult male rats subjected to PRS ("PRS rats") showed increased anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze (EPM), a reduction in the survival of newborn cells in the dentate gyrus, a reduction in the activity of mGlu1/5 metabotropic glutamate receptors in the ventral hippocampus, and an increase in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and pro-BDNF in the hippocampus. In contrast, female PRS rats displayed reduced anxiety in the EPM, improved learning in the Morris water maze, an increase in the activity of mGlu1/5 receptors in the ventral and dorsal hippocampus, and no changes in hippocampal neurogenesis or BDNF levels. The direction of the changes in neurogenesis, BDNF levels and mGlu receptor function in PRS animals was not consistent with the behavioral changes, suggesting that PRS perturbs the interdependency of these particular parameters and their relation to hippocampus-dependent behavior. Our data suggest that the epigenetic changes in hippocampal neuroplasticity induced by early environmental challenges are critically sex-dependent and that the behavioral outcome may diverge in males and females.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(5):e2170. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 01/2008; 78(12):1411-3. · 4.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors are G-protein coupled receptors activated by glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter of the CNS. A growing body of evidence suggests that the function of mGlu receptors is not restricted to the regulation of synaptic transmission. mGlu receptors are expressed in a variety of peripheral cells, including inter alia hepatocytes, pancreatic cells, osteoblasts and immune cells. Within the immunological synapses, mGlu receptors expressed by T cells might contribute to the vast array of signals generated by the antigen-presenting cells. mGlu receptors are also found in embryonic and neural stem cells. This suggests their involvement in the pathophysiology of brain tumors, which likely originates from cancer stem cells similar to neural stem cells. Ligands of mGlu3 and mGlu4 receptors are potential candidates for the experimental treatment of malignant gliomas and medulloblastomas, respectively.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 09/2007; 32 Suppl 1:S40-5. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inhibition of the Wnt pathway by the secreted glycoprotein, Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1) has been related to processes of excitotoxic and ischemic neuronal death. We now report that Dkk-1 is induced in neurons of the rat olfactory cortex and hippocampus degenerating in response to seizures produced by systemic injection of kainate (12 mg/kg, i.p.). There was a tight correlation between Dkk-1 expression and neuronal death in both regions, as shown by the different expression profiles in animals classified as "high" and "low" responders to kainate. For example, no induction of Dkk-1 was detected in the hippocampus of low responder rats, in which seizures did not cause neuronal loss. Induction of Dkk-1 always anticipated neuronal death and was associated with a reduction in nuclear levels of beta-catenin, which reflects an ongoing inhibition of the canonical Wnt pathway. Intracerebroventricular injections of Dkk-1 antisense oligonucleotides (12 nmol/2 microL) substantially reduced kainate-induced neuronal damage, as did a pretreatment with lithium ions (1 mEq/kg, i.p.), which rescue the Wnt pathway by acting downstream of the Dkk-1 blockade. Taken collectively, these data suggest that an early inhibition of the Wnt pathway by Dkk-1 contributes to neuronal damage associated with temporal lobe epilepsy. We also examined Dkk-1 expression in the hippocampus of epileptic patients and their controls. A strong Dkk-1 immunolabeling was found in six bioptic samples and in one autoptic sample from patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy associated with hippocampal sclerosis. Dkk-1 expression was undetectable or very low in autoptic samples from nonepileptic patients or in bioptic samples from patients with complex partial seizures without neuronal loss and/or reactive gliosis in the hippocampus. Our data raise the attractive possibility that drugs able to rescue the canonical Wnt pathway, such as Dkk-1 antagonists or inhibitors of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, reduce the development of hippocampal sclerosis in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.
    Epilepsia 05/2007; 48(4):694-705. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cultured mouse D3 embryonic stem (ES) cells differentiating into embryoid bodies (EBs) expressed several Wnt isoforms, nearly all isotypes of the Wnt receptor Frizzled and the Wnt/Dickkopf (Dkk) co-receptor low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) type 5. A 4-day treatment with retinoic acid (RA), which promoted neural differentiation of EBs, substantially increased the expression of the Wnt antagonist Dkk-1, and induced the synthesis of the Wnt/Dkk-1 co-receptor LRP6. Recombinant Dkk-1 applied to EBs behaved like RA in inducing the expression of the neural markers nestin and distal-less homeobox gene (Dlx-2). Recombinant Dkk-1 was able to inhibit the Wnt pathway, as shown by a reduction in nuclear beta-catenin levels. Remarkably, the antisense- or small interfering RNA-induced knockdown of Dkk-1 largely reduced the expression of Dlx-2, and the neuronal marker beta-III tubulin in EBs exposed to RA. These data suggest that induction of Dkk-1 and the ensuing inhibition of the canonical Wnt pathway is required for neural differentiation of ES cells.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 02/2007; 100(1):242-50. · 3.97 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
211.18 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007–2013
    • IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed
      Poczilli, Molise, Italy
  • 1999–2012
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      • • Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and Pathology Environmental
      • • Department of Experimental Medicine
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2002–2011
    • University of Catania
      Catania, Sicily, Italy