A Caruso

Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Latium, Italy

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Publications (134)209 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: LY379268 and LY354740, two agonists of mGlu2/3 metabotropic glutamate receptors, display different potencies in mouse models of schizophrenia. This differential effect of the two drugs remains unexplained. We performed a proteomic analysis in cultured cortical neurons challenged with either LY379268 or LY354740. Among the few proteins that were differentially influenced by the two drugs, Rab GDP dissociation inhibitor-β (Rab GDIβ) was down-regulated by LY379268 and showed a trend to an up-regulation in response to LY354740. In cultured hippocampal neurons, LY379268 selectively down-regulated the α isoform of Rab GDI. Rab GDI inhibits the activity of the synaptic vesicle-associated protein, Rab3A, and is reduced in the brain of schizophrenic patients. We examined the expression of Rab GDI in mice exposed to prenatal stress ("PRS mice"), which have been described as a putative model of schizophrenia. Rab GDIα protein levels were increased in the hippocampus of PRS mice at postnatal days (PND)1 and 21, but not at PND60. At PND21, PRS mice also showed a reduced depolarization-evoked [(3)H]D-aspartate release in hippocampal synaptosomes. The increase in Rab GDIα levels in the hippocampus of PRS mice was reversed by a 7-days treatment with LY379268 (1 or 10 mg/kg, i.p.), but not by treatment with equal doses of LY354740. These data strengthen the validity of PRS mice as a model of schizophrenia, and show for the first time a pharmacodynamic difference between LY379268 and LY354740 which might be taken into account in an attempt to explain the differential effect of the two drugs across mouse models.
    Neuropharmacology 07/2014; · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and are unique potential targets for therapeutic intervention. The acetylating agent L-acetylcarnitine (LAC), a well-tolerated drug, behaves as an antidepressant by the epigenetic regulation of type 2 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu2) receptors. It caused a rapid and long-lasting antidepressant effect in Flinders Sensitive Line rats and in mice exposed to chronic unpredictable stress, which, respectively, model genetic and environmentally induced depression. In both models, LAC increased levels of acetylated H3K27 bound to the Grm2 promoter and also increased acetylation of NF-ĸB-p65 subunit, thereby enhancing the transcription of Grm2 gene encoding for the mGlu2 receptor in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Importantly, LAC reduced the immobility time in the forced swim test and increased sucrose preference as early as 3 d of treatment, whereas 14 d of treatment were needed for the antidepressant effect of chlorimipramine. Moreover, there was no tolerance to the action of LAC, and the antidepressant effect was still seen 2 wk after drug withdrawal. Conversely, NF-ĸB inhibition prevented the increase in mGlu2 expression induced by LAC, whereas the use of a histone deacetylase inhibitor supported the epigenetic control of mGlu2 expression. Finally, LAC had no effect on mGlu2 knockout mice exposed to chronic unpredictable stress, and a single injection of the mGlu2/3 receptor antagonist LY341495 partially blocked LAC action. The rapid and long-lasting antidepressant action of LAC strongly suggests a unique approach to examine the epigenetic hypothesis of depressive disorders in humans, paving the way for more efficient antidepressants with faster onset of action.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by gradual cognitive decline associated with deterioration of daily living activities and behavioral disturbances throughout the course of the disease, is estimated to affect 27 million people around the world. It is expected that the illness will affect about 63 million people by 2030, and 114 million by 2050, worldwide. Current Alzheimer's disease medications may ease symptoms for a time but are not capable of slowing down disease progression. Indeed, all currently available therapies, such as cholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine), are primarily considered symptomatic therapies, although recent data also suggest possible disease-modifying effects. Gantenerumab is an investigational fully human anti-amyloid beta monoclonal antibody with a high capacity to bind and remove beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. This compound, currently undergoing Phase II and III clinical trials represents a promising agent with a disease-modifying potential in Alzheimer's disease. Here, we present an overview of gantenerumab ranging from preclinical studies to human clinical trials.
    Drug Design, Development and Therapy 01/2013; 7:1359-1364. · 3.49 Impact Factor
  • European Neuropsychopharmacology - EUR NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOL. 01/2011; 21.
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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. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • ChemInform 01/2010; 26(18).
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    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 25(41).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 29(43).
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    ABSTRACT: Spontaneously depressed flinders sensitive line (FSL) rats showed a reduced expression of mGlu2/3 metabotropic glutamate receptors in the hippocampus, as compared to "non-depressed" flinders resistant line (FRL) rats. No changes in mGlu2/3 receptor protein levels were found in other brain regions, including the amygdala, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex. Biochemical analysis of receptor signalling supported the reduction of mGlu2/3 receptors in the hippocampus of FSL rats. Accordingly, the selective mGlu2/3 receptor agonist, LY379268 (1microM) reduced forskolin-stimulated cAMP formation by 56% and 32% in hippocampal slices from FRL and FSL rats, respectively. In addition, LY379268 enhanced 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine-stimulated inositol phospholipid hydrolysis from 65% to 215% in hippocampal slices from FRL rats, whereas it was inactive in slices from FRL rats. We also examined the behavioural response of FSL rats to systemic injection of LY379268 (0.5mg/kg, i.p., once a day for 1-21 days) by measuring the immobility time in the forced swim test, which is known to be increased in these rats. LY379268 was administered alone or combined with the classical antidepressant, chlorimipramine (10mg/kg, i.p.). LY379268 alone had no effect at any of the selected time-points, whereas chlorimipramine alone reduced the immobility time only after 21 days of treatment. In contrast, when combined with LY379268, chlorimipramine reduced the immobility time during the first 14 days of treatment. These data support the view that mGlu2/3 receptors might be involved in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders, and that pharmacological activation of these receptors may shorten the latency of antidepressant medication.
    Neuropharmacology 06/2008; 55(4):525-31. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the effect of Wnt1 and Wnt7a on cell proliferation using undifferentiated PC12 cells, which originate from the neural crest and are widely employed as a neuronal cell model. Heterologous expression of Wnt1 enhanced [3H]thymidine incorporation and expression of cyclin D1 and cylin E in PC12 cells. Opposite effects were observed in PC12 cells expressing Wnt7a. Searching for the mechanisms underlying the opposite effects of Wnt1 and Wnt7a on PC12 cell proliferation, we examined the activation of the canonical beta-catenin/T-cell-lymphoid enhancer-binding protein transcription factor pathway and the 'calcium pathway' by co-transfecting the cells with a reporter gene controlled by either T-cell-lymphoid enhancer-binding protein transcription factor or the calcium-activated transcription factor, NFAT. Wnt1 and Wnt7a activated both pathways, but to a different extent. While Wnt1 preferentially activated the calcium pathway, Wnt7a mainly activated the canonical pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of protein kinase C, which is a component of the calcium pathway, abrogated the increase in cell proliferation induced by Wnt1 without affecting the antiproliferative action of Wnt7a. The action of Wnt7a was instead occluded by lithium ions, which mimic the activation of the canonical pathway, and was largely reduced by Dickkopf-1, which acts as an inhibitor of the canonical pathway. In addition, expression of a constitutively active mutant of beta-catenin potently activated the canonical Wnt pathway and reduced [3H]thymidine incorporation. These data challenge the view that the canonical Wnt pathway invariably supports cell growth and suggest that, at least in PC12 cells, cell proliferation is regulated by the balance between the calcium/protein kinase C pathway and the canonical pathway.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 04/2008; 104(6):1588-98. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the interaction between the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine, and group-II metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors using progenitor cells isolated from cultured cerebellar granule cells, considered as an in vitro model of antidepressant-drug induced neurogenesis. These cells expressed mGlu3 receptors negatively coupled to adenylyl cyclase. A 72-h treatment with either fluoxetine or low concentrations of mGlu2/3 receptor agonists (LY379268 or 2R,4R-APDC) enhanced cell proliferation. The action of fluoxetine was mediated by the activation of 5-HT(1A) receptors. We found a strong synergism between fluoxetine and LY379268 in enhancing cell proliferation and inhibiting cAMP formation. The increased cell proliferation induced by fluoxetine+LY379268 was abrogated by the cAMP analogue, 8-Br-cAMP, as well as by drugs that inhibit the mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphatidyilinositol-3-kinase pathways. Interestingly, fluoxetine and LY379268 also acted synergistically in promoting neuronal differentiation when progenitor cells were incubated in the presence of serum. These data support the hypothesis that a combination between classical antidepressants and mGlu2/3 receptor agonists may be helpful in the experimental treatment of depression.
    Neuropharmacology 03/2008; 54(2):428-37. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) in the world of sport has raised a major concern for the serious, sometimes life-threatening, side effects associated with these drugs. Most of the CNS effects are of psychiatric origin, and whether or not AASs are toxic to neurons is yet unknown. We compared the effect of testosterone with that of the AASs, 19-nortestosterone (nandrolone), stanozolol, and gestrinone, on excitotoxic neuronal death induced by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) in primary cultures of mouse cortical cells. In the most relevant experiments, steroids were applied to the cultures once daily during the 4 days preceding the NMDA pulse. Under these conditions, testosterone amplified excitotoxic neuronal death only at very high concentrations (10 muM), whereas it was protective at concentrations of 10 nM and inactive at intermediate concentrations. Low concentrations of testosterone became neurotoxic in the presence of the aromatase inhibitors, i.e. anastrozole and aminoglutethimide, suggesting that the intrinsic toxicity of testosterone was counterbalanced by its aromatization into 17beta-estradiol. As opposed to testosterone, nortestosterone, stanozolol and gestrinone amplified NMDA toxicity at nanomolar concentrations; their action was insensitive to aromatase inhibitors, but was abrogated by the androgen receptor antagonist, flutamide. None of the AASs were toxic in the absence of NMDA. These data suggest that AASs increase neuronal vulnerability to an excitotoxic insult and may therefore facilitate neuronal death associated with acute or chronic CNS disorders.
    Brain Research 09/2007; 1165:21-9. · 2.88 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
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the effect of the three human isoforms of apolipoprotein E (ApoE2, ApoE3, and ApoE4) on the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in undifferentiated PC12 cells. Addition of recombinant ApoE4 reduced Wingless-Int7a-stimulated gene expression at concentrations of 80 and 500 nm. Recombinant ApoE2 and ApoE3 were virtually inactive. Recombinant ApoE4 also inhibited Wnt signaling when combined with very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs) or in cells over-expressing the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein, LRP6. In contrast, the enforced expression of LRP5 unmasked an inhibition by ApoE2 and ApoE3, which, however, were less effective than ApoE4 in inhibiting Wnt signaling. We also transfected PC12 cells with constructs encoding for the three human ApoE isoforms to examine whether endogenously expressed ApoE isoforms could modulate the Wnt pathway. Under these conditions, all three ApoE isoforms were able to inhibit Wnt signaling, although ApoE4 showed the greatest efficacy. Only the conditioned medium collected from cultures transfected with ApoE4 induced a significant inhibition of Wnt7a-stimulated gene expression, confirming that ApoE4 has an extracellular action that is not shared by the other ApoE isoforms. We conclude that ApoE4 behaves as an inhibitor of the canonical Wnt pathway in a context-independent manner.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 08/2006; 98(2):364-71. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Moving from the evidence that activation of type 4 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu4) receptors inhibits proliferation and promotes differentiation of cerebellar granule cell neuroprogenitors, we examined the expression and function of mGlu4 receptors in medulloblastoma cells. mGlu4 receptors were expressed in 46 of 60 human medulloblastoma samples. Expression varied in relation to the histotype (nodular desmoplastic>classic>large-cell anaplastic) and was inversely related to tumor severity, spreading, and recurrence. mGlu4 receptors were also found in D283med, D341med, and DAOY medulloblastoma cell lines, where receptor activation with the selective enhancer PHCCC inhibited adenylyl cyclase and the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase pathway without affecting the mitogen-activated protein kinase, Sonic Hedgehog, and Wnt pathways. Interestingly, mGlu4 receptor activation reduced DNA synthesis and cell proliferation in all three cell lines. This effect was abrogated by the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 [2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one]. In in vivo experiments, repeated subcutaneous injections of N-phenyl-7-(hydroxyimino)cyclopropa[b]chromen-1a-carboxamide (PHCCC) reduced the growth of D283med and DAOY cell xenografts in nude mice. More remarkably, subcutaneous or intracranial injections of PHCCC during the first week of life prevented the development of medulloblastomas in mice lacking one Patched-1 allele and x-irradiated 1 d after birth. These data suggest that mGlu4 receptor enhancers are promising drugs for the treatment of medulloblastomas.
    Journal of Neuroscience 08/2006; 26(32):8388-97. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activity-dependent Ca2+ influx into neurones and the subsequent changes in gene expression are thought to be important in shaping neuronal development. In this study, we investigated whether an important mediator of neuronal migration, somatostatin (Srif), alongside its receptors, is controlled in this manner in cerebellar granule cells. We show that Ca2+ influx increases the expression of somatostatin mRNA (srif), while somatostatin receptor 2 (sst2) mRNA expression is decreased. Both genes appear to be regulated independently of each other and in a calcineurin-dependent manner that does not depend on either the ERK1/2 MAP kinase or the cAMP/CREB pathway. Nonetheless, a second pathway is required to induce changes in srif and sst2 expression, since constitutively active calcineurin alone is not sufficient to induce these changes. Furthermore, calcineurin activation reciprocally regulates the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, bdnf, and its receptor trkb, which have also been shown to play a role in neuronal migration. Finally, calcineurin appears to control the expression of the neuronal marker transient axonal glycoprotein 1, tag-1, thereby strongly suggesting that calcineurin activation in vivo occurs during the late stages of neuronal migration, possibly during synaptogenesis with mossy fibres. We therefore propose that calcineurin might play an important role as a switch between transcriptional programs during neuronal development.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 10/2005; 94(5):1374-83. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We used primary cultures of cortical neurons to examine the relationship between beta-amyloid toxicity and hyperphosphorylation of the tau protein, the biochemical substrate for neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer's brain. Exposure of the cultures to beta-amyloid peptide (betaAP) induced the expression of the secreted glycoprotein Dickkopf-1 (DKK1). DKK1 negatively modulates the canonical Wnt signaling pathway, thus activating the tau-phosphorylating enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3beta. DKK1 was induced at late times after betaAP exposure, and its expression was dependent on the tumor suppressing protein p53. The antisense induced knock-down of DKK1 attenuated neuronal apoptosis but nearly abolished the increase in tau phosphorylation in betaAP-treated neurons. DKK1 was also expressed by degenerating neurons in the brain from Alzheimer's patients, where it colocalized with neurofibrillary tangles and distrophic neurites. We conclude that induction of DKK1 contributes to the pathological cascade triggered by beta-amyloid and is critically involved in the process of tau phosphorylation.
    Journal of Neuroscience 07/2004; 24(26):6021-7. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors have been implicated in the regulation of developmental plasticity. Here, we examined the expression of mGlu1a-b, -2, -3, -4a-b, and -5a receptor subtypes from embryonic day 12 (E12) to the early and late postnatal life. While all transcripts (with the exception of mGlu4 mRNA) were detected prenatally, only the mGlu5 receptor protein was found in detectable amounts in the embryonic brain. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that the mGlu5 receptor was mainly expressed by cells surrounding the ventricles at E15, whereas it was more diffusely expressed at E18. In the postnatal life, besides its classical expression sites, the mGlu5 receptor was found in zones of active neurogenesis such as the external granular layer (EGL) of the cerebellar cortex and the subventricular zone. In these regions, the presence of actively proliferating progenitor cells was detected by BrdU staining. No other subtype (among those we have examined) was found to be expressed in regions enriched of BrdU(+) cells. These data suggest a role for mGlu5 receptors in the early brain development and in basic cellular processes such as proliferation and/or differentiation.
    Developmental Brain Research 06/2004; 150(1):17-22. · 1.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An overactivation of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA)/kainate receptors has been implicated in the pathophysiology of oligodendrocyte damage in demyelinating disorders of the CNS. We decided to examine the effect of testosterone on excitotoxic death of oligodendrocytes because a gender difference exists in the incidence and disease course of multiple sclerosis. Short-term pure cultures of oligodendrocytes (4 days in vitro) were exposed to a brief pulse with kainate or AMPA + cyclothiazide for the induction of excitotoxicity. Exposure to testosterone enantate was slightly toxic per se and amplified both AMPA and kainate toxicity. Testosterone treatment induced all gene targets of p53, and amplified the induction of these genes induced by kainate. The effect of testosterone was mediated by the activation of androgen receptors and was resistant to the aromatase inhibitors, dl-aminoglutethimide and 4-hydroxyandrost-4-ene-3,17-dione. Testosterone treatment also potentiated the stimulation of 45Ca2+ influx induced by AMPA + cyclothiazide or kainate without changing the expression of the glutamate receptor (GluR) 1, -2/3, and -4 subunits of AMPA receptors or the GluR6/7 subunits of kainate receptors. We conclude that testosterone amplifies excitotoxic damage of oligodendrocytes acting at an early step of the death cascade triggered by AMPA/kainate receptors.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 04/2004; 88(5):1179-85. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Apoptosis was induced in cultured cerebellar granule cells by lowering extracellular K+ concentrations (usually from 25 to 10 mM). The apoptotic phenotype was preceded by an early and transient increase in the intracellular levels of the disialoganglioside, GD3, which behaves as a putative pro-apoptotic factor. We examined whether activation of Fas receptor mediates the increase in GD3 formation in granule cells committed to die. Degenerating granule cells showed increased expression of both Fas receptor and its ligand (Fas-L), at times that coincided with the increase in GD3 levels and the induction of GD3 synthase mRNA. Addition of neutralizing anti-Fas-L antibodies reduced the extent of 'low-K+'-induced apoptosis and abolished the increase in GD3 levels and GD3 synthase mRNA. Similar reductions were observed in cultures prepared from gld or lpr mice, which harbor loss-of-function mutations of Fas-L and Fas receptor, respectively. In addition, exogenous application of soluble Fas-L further enhanced both the increase in GD3 formation and cell death in cultured granule cells switched from 25 into 10 mM K+. We conclude that activation of Fas receptor is entirely responsible for the increase in GD3 levels and contributes to the development of apoptosis by trophic deprivation in cultured cerebellar granule cells.
    Neuroscience 02/2004; 126(4):889-98. · 3.12 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
209.00 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2014
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      • Department of Experimental Medicine
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 1989–2010
    • Università degli Studi di Palermo
      • Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche Chimiche e Farmaceutiche
      Palermo, Sicily, Italy
  • 1985–2010
    • University of Catania
      • Department of Drug Science (DSF)
      Catania, Sicily, Italy
  • 2004
    • Siena Biotech
      Siena, Tuscany, Italy