Tiziana Pascucci

Tiziana Pascucci
Sapienza University of Rome | la sapienza · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

75
Publications
17,933
Reads
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3,547
Citations
Citations since 2016
17 Research Items
1329 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
Introduction
My major interests: 1) Phenylketonuria 2) Investigation of brain mechanisms underlying cognitive disabilities 3) Plasticity and critical developmental periods 4) Neurochemical stress responses.
Additional affiliations
January 2006 - present
Fondation Santa Lucia
January 2000 - present
Foundation Santa Lucia
Position
  • Researcher
January 1999 - present
Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza"

Publications

Publications (75)
Article
Full-text available
Here we report, for the first time, the engineering of human red blood cells (RBCs) with an entire metabolic pathway as a potential strategy to treat patients with guanidinoacetate methyl transferase (GAMT) deficiency, capable of reducing the high toxic levels of guanidinoacetate acid (GAA) and restore proper creatine levels in blood and tissues. W...
Article
Early life experiences that affect the attachment bond formation can alter developmental trajectories and result in pathological outcomes in a sex-related manner. However, the molecular basis of sex differences is quite unknown. The dopaminergic system originating from the ventral tegmental area has been proposed to be a key mediator of this proces...
Article
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Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency (GAMT-D) is one of three cerebral creatine (Cr) deficiency syndromes due to pathogenic variants in the GAMT gene (19p13.3). GAMT-D is characterized by the accumulation of guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) and the depletion of Cr, which result in severe global developmental delay (and intellectual disability),...
Article
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Lacunae are the voids left by missing or damaged pieces of artwork, and their presence constitutes a central problem in the aesthetic experience of viewing artwork. However, we hypothesize that experience and knowledge of art might differentially modify viewer reactions to degraded artwork. Here, we investigated the implicit and explicit attitudes...
Article
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are designed to improve mood by raising extracellular serotonin levels through the blockade of the serotonin transporter. However, they exhibit a slow onset of action, suggesting the involvement of adaptive regulatory mechanisms. We hypothesized that the microRNA-34 family facilitates the therapeutic...
Article
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Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction/communication, stereotypic behaviors, restricted interests, and abnormal sensory-processing. Several studies have reported significantly elevated urinary and foecal levels of p-cresol in ASD children, an aromatic compound eith...
Article
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Chronic stress exposure is known to increase vulnerability to the expression of psychiatric disorders, such as depression. Clinical and preclinical evidences support the involvement of the microRNA-34 family in stress-related psychiatric conditions and in the regulation of stress responses. However, the mechanism and the multiple targets by which t...
Article
Although several studies have been performed in rodents, non-human primates and humans, the biological basis of vulnerability to develop cocaine addiction remains largely unknown. Exposure to critical early events (as Repeated Cross Fostering (RCF)) has been reported to increase sensitivity to cocaine effects in adult C57BL/6J female mice. Using a...
Article
Alterations in early environmental conditions that interfere with the creation of a stable mother-pup bond have been suggested to be a risk factor for the development of stress-related psychopathologies later in life. The long-lasting effects of early experiences are mediated by changes in various cerebral circuits, such as the corticolimbic system...
Article
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We studied group-I metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors in Pahenu2 (ENU2) mice, which mimic the genetics and neurobiology of human phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disorder characterized, if untreated, by autism, and intellectual disability (ID). Male ENU2 mice showed increased mGlu5 receptor protein levels in the hippocampus and corpus striat...
Article
Full-text available
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is one of the most common human inborn errors of metabolism, caused by phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency, leading to high phenylalanine and low tyrosine levels in blood and brain causing profound cognitive disability, if untreated. Since 1960, population is screened for hyperphenylalaninemia shortly after birth and submitte...
Article
Adverse effects of nicotine during pregnancy have been greatly studied, while nowadays few works are focused on consequences of maternal tobacco smoking after birth. The present study investigated the behavioural and early neurochemical effects of nicotine treatment during first weeks of post-natal life in rats. We used “free choice” treatment (H2O...
Article
Although early aversive postnatal events are known to increase the risk to develop psychiatric disorders later in life, rarely they determine alone the nature and outcome of the psychopathology, indicating that interaction with genetic factors is crucial for expression of psychopathologies in adulthood. Moreover, it has been suggested that early li...
Article
Full-text available
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is the most common genetic metabolic disease with a well-documented association with autism spectrum disorders. It is characterized by the deficiency of the phenylalanine hydroxylase activity, causing plasmatic hyperphenylalaninemia and variable neurological and cognitive impairments. Among the potential pathophysiological mec...
Article
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Background: Recent studies support the therapeutic utility of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson's disease (PD), whose progression is correlated with loss of corticostriatal long-term potentiation and long-term depression. Glial cell activation is also a feature of PD that is gaining increasing attention in the field because...
Article
Background: Phenylketonuria treatment consists mainly of a Phe-restricted diet, which leads to suboptimal neurocognitive and psychosocial outcomes. Supplementation of large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) has been suggested as an alternative dietary treatment strategy to optimize neurocognitive outcome in phenylketonuria and has been shown to influenc...
Article
Full-text available
Several forms of monogenic heritable autism spectrum disorders are associated to mutations in the neuroligin genes. The autism-linked substitution arginine 451 to cysteine (R451C) in neuroligin3induces local misfolding of its extracellular domain, causing partial retention in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of expressing cells. We have generated a P...
Article
Full-text available
Several forms of monogenic heritable autism spectrum disorders are associated to mutations in the neuroligin genes. The autism-linked substitution arginine 451 to cysteine (R451C) in neuroligin3induces local misfolding of its extracellular domain, causing partial retention in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of expressing cells. We have generated a P...
Article
Early postnatal events exert powerful effects on development, inducing persistent functional alterations in different brain network, such as the catecholamine prefrontal–accumbal system, and increasing the risk of developing psychiatric disorders later in life. However, a vast body of literature shows that the interaction between genetic factors an...
Article
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Feingold syndrome (FS) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by microcephaly, short stature, digital anomalies, esophageal/duodenal atresia, facial dysmorphism, and various learning disabilities. Heterozygous deletion of the miR-17-92 cluster is responsible for a subset of FS (Feingold syndrome type 2, FS2), and the developmental abnormal...
Article
Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients exhibit motor and non-motor symptoms that severely affect quality of life. Cognitive alterations in PD subjects have been related to both structural and functional hippocampal changes. Here we investigated the effects of the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion in the Medial Forebrain Bundle (MFB) on the hippocampus f...
Article
Full-text available
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an autosomal recessive genetic disease caused by defects in the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Preclinical and clinical investigations suggest that phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) could be an effective alternative for the treatment of PKU. The aim of this study is to investigate if erythrocytes loaded with PAL may act as...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale Endogenous opioids could play a major role in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) responses to stress challenge. However, there is still no direct evidence of an influence of endogenous opioids on any of these responses. Objective We assessed whether and how endogenous opioids modulate fluctuations of mesocortical and mesoaccumbens DA ton...
Article
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Hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) refers to all clinical conditions characterized by increased amounts of phenylalanine (PHE) in blood and other tissues. According to their blood PHE concentrations under a free diet, hyperphenylalaninemic patients are commonly classified into phenotypic subtypes: classical phenylketonuria (PKU) (PHE > 1200 µM/L), mild PK...
Article
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Although patients with Parkinson's disease show impairments in cognitive performance even at the early stage of the disease, the synaptic mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment in this pathology are unknown. Hippocampal long-term potentiation represents the major experimental model for the synaptic changes underlying learning and memory and is...
Article
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The impact of stress is widely recognized in the etiology of multiple disorders. In particular, psychological stress may increase the risk of cardiovascular, metabolic, immune, and mood disorders. Several genes are considered potential candidates to account for the deleterious consequences of stress and recent data point to role of Vgf. VGF mRNA is...
Article
Full-text available
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inherited metabolic disease characterized by plasma hyperphenylalaninemia and several neurological symptoms that can be controlled by rigorous dietetic treatment. The cellular mechanisms underlying impaired brain functions are still unclear. It has been proposed, however, that phenylalanine interference in cognitive func...
Data
Body Weight and Temperature of RCF and CT pups at different developmental stages. (DOC)
Article
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Background: In man, many different events implying childhood separation from caregivers/unstable parental environment are associated with heightened risk for panic disorder in adulthood. Twin data show that the occurrence of such events in childhood contributes to explaining the covariation between separation anxiety disorder, panic, and the relat...
Article
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The integrin-β 3 gene (ITGB3), located on human chromosome 17q21.3, was previously identified as a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for 5-HT blood levels and has been implicated as a candidate gene for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We performed a family-based association study in 281 simplex and 12 multiplex Caucasian families. ITGB3 haplotypes are...
Article
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Although phenylketonuria (PKU) is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation, the cellular mechanisms underlying impaired brain function are still unclear. Using PAHenu2 mice (ENU2), the genetic mouse model of PKU, we previously demonstrated that high phenylalanine levels interfere with brain tryptophan hydroxylase activity by reducing the...
Article
Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, likely encompassing multiple pathogenetic components. The aim of this study is to begin identifying at least some of these components and to assess their association with biological endophenotypes. To address this issue, we recruited 245 Italian patients with idiopathic autism spectrum disorders and...
Article
A number of studies have demonstrated that the common polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT-LPR) moderates the increased risk for major depression seen in persons exposed to early adverse experiences. Several mouse models of this interaction have been recently established to investigate the increased vulnerability of individuals car...
Article
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Epidemiological evidence links exposure to stressful life events with increased risk for mental illness. However, there is significant individual variability in vulnerability to environmental risk factors, and genetic variation is thought to play a major role in determining who will become ill. Several studies have shown, for example, that individu...
Article
Adult early treated hyperphenylalaninaemic patients can show specific deficits of prefrontal cortical functions. The development of additional therapeutic strategies for these patients requires the understanding of the mechanisms involved in phenylalanine-dependent impairment of fronto-cortical functions. We tested the hypothesis of phenylalanine i...
Conference Paper
Background: Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, likely encompassing multiple pathogenetic components. Single genes most likely influence a single component, rather than the entire set of autistic signs and symptoms. We have recently shown in 245 ASD patients that at least four principal components provide major contributions to autism...
Article
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The vgf gene regulates energy homeostasis and the VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 centrally exerts catabolic effects in mice and hamsters. Here, we investigate the effect of chronic intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of TLQP-21 in mice fed high fat diet (HFD). Fast weight-gaining mice injected with the peptide or cerebrospinal fluid were selected...
Article
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Autism is a severe developmental disorder, whose pathogenetic underpinnings are still largely unknown. Temporocortical gray matter from six matched patient-control pairs was used to perform post-mortem biochemical and genetic studies of the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier (AGC), which participates in the aspartate/malate reduced nicotinam...
Article
Serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA) and noradrenaline (NE) play important roles in brain postnatal maturation. Therefore, deficits in brain availability of biogenic amines during critical developmental phases might underlie neurodevelopmental disturbances associated with cognitive impairment. To test this hypothesis we evaluated brain availability of 5...
Article
A polymorphism in the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene modulates the association between adverse early experiences and risk for major depression in adulthood. Although human imaging studies have begun to elucidate the neural circuits involved in the 5-HTT x environment risk factor, a molecular understanding of this phenomenon is lacking. Such an...
Article
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Protein kinase C enzymes play an important role in signal transduction, regulation of gene expression and control of cell division and differentiation. The fsI and betaII isoenzymes result from the alternative splicing of the PKCbeta gene (PRKCB1), previously found to be associated with autism. We performed a family-based association study in 229 s...
Article
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Although the medial prefrontal cortex (mpFC) appears to constrain stress responses, indirect evidences suggest that it might determine the stress response of the mesoaccumbens dopamine (DA) system. To test this hypothesis, we first evaluated the dynamics of norepinephrine (NE) and DA release in the mpFC and of DA release in the nucleus accumbens (N...
Article
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Head growth rates are often accelerated in autism. This study is aimed at defining the clinical, morphological, and biochemical correlates of head circumference in autistic patients. Fronto-occipital head circumference was measured in 241 nonsyndromic autistic patients, 3 to 16 years old, diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria. We assessed 1) clini...
Article
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Accumulating evidence in humans demonstrated that visuo-spatial deficits are the most consistently reported cognitive abnormalities in Parkinson disease (PD). These deficits have been generally attributed to cortical dopamine degeneration. However, more recent evidence suggests that dopamine loss in the striatum is responsible for the visuo-spatial...
Article
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The TPH2 gene encodes the enzyme responsible for serotonin (5-HT) synthesis in the Central Nervous System (CNS). Stereotypic and repetitive behaviors are influenced by 5-HT, and initial studies report an association of TPH2 alleles with childhood-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and with autism. GLO1 encodes glyoxalase I, the enzyme which...
Article
Full-text available
The vgf gene has been identified as an energy homeostasis regulator. Vgf encodes a 617-aa precursor protein that is processed to yield an incompletely characterized panel of neuropeptides. Until now, it was an unproved assumption that VGF-derived peptides could regulate metabolism. Here, a VGF peptide designated TLQP-21 was identified in rat brain...
Article
Full-text available
Organophosphates (OPs) are routinely used as pesticides in agriculture and as insecticides within the household. Our prior work on Reelin and APOE delineated a gene-environment interactive model of autism pathogenesis, whereby genetically vulnerable individuals prenatally exposed to OPs during critical periods in neurodevelopment could undergo alte...
Article
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Dopamine (DA)-containing neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) provide dopaminergic input to the nucleus accumbens and to the prefrontal cortex within the mesolimbic pathway. In the present study, we combined electrophysiological recordings and microdialysis techniques to investigate the function of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (T...
Article
The neurotoxicity of the AMPA/kainate receptor agonist kainate was investigated in motor and cortical neurones from mice over-expressing the wild-type and G93A mutant form of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) human gene, a mouse model of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. G93A mutant motor neurones were more vulnerable and wild-type SOD1 motor...
Article
Fragile X syndrome is an X-linked form of mental retardation including, among others, symptoms such as stereotypic behaviour, hyperactivity, hyperarousal, and cognitive deficits. We hypothesized that hyperactivity and/or compromised attentional, cognitive functions may lead to impaired performance in cognitive tasks in Fmr1 knockout mice, the most...
Article
Fragile X syndrome is an X-linked form of mental retardation including, among others, symptoms such as stereotypic behaviour, hyperactivity, hyperarousal, and cognitive deficits. We hypothesized that hyperactivity and/or compromised attentional, cognitive functions may lead to impaired performance in cognitive tasks in Fmr1 knockout mice, the most...
Article
We have previously described linkage/association between reelin gene polymorphisms and autistic disorder. APOE also participates in the Reelin signaling pathway, by competitively antagonizing Reelin binding to APOE receptor 2 and to very-low-density lipoprotein receptors. The APOE2 protein variant displays the lowest receptor binding affinity compa...
Article
The HOXA1 gene plays a major role in brainstem and cranial morphogenesis. The G allele of the HOXA1 A218G polymorphism has been previously found associated with autism. We performed case-control and family-based association analyses, contrasting 127 autistic patients with 174 ethnically matched controls, and assessing for allelic transmission diseq...
Article
Full-text available
Pah(enu2) mice, created by chemically induced genetic mutation, are characterized by biochemical phenotypes closely resembling untreated human phenylketonuria (PKU). However, studies conducted in adult Pah(enu2) mice have shown no indices of the severe mental retardation that characterizes untreated PKU. The present experiments explored recognition...
Article
Although hyperphenylalaninemia causes neurological disturbances and mental retardation, the neuropathological effects of phenylalanine excess are still poorly understood. Brain serotonin depletion may play a major role in such disturbances and is a possible target for feasible pharmacotherapies. In the present study, we investigated hyperphenylalan...
Article
Full-text available
Autism is a biologically-heterogeneous disease. Distinct subgroups of autistic patients may be marked by intermediate phenotypes, such as elevated serotonin (5-HT) blood levels, potentially associated with different underlying disease mechanisms. This could lead to inconsistent genetic association results, such as those of prior studies on serotoni...
Article
Full-text available
Thalamocortical neurons innervating the barrel cortex in neonatal rodents transiently store serotonin (5-HT) in synaptic vesicles by expressing the plasma membrane serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2). 5-HTT knock-out (ko) mice reveal a nearly complete absence of 5-HT in the cerebral cortex by immunohistoche...
Article
Plasmin, a serine protease, is involved in many physiologically relevant processes, including haemostasis, cellular recruitment during immune response, tumour growth, and also neuronal migration and synaptic remodelling. Both tissue-type and urokinase-type plasminogen activators can be efficiently inhibited by plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI...