Cellular Neurobiology. Coordinator: Monti

Understanding the biochemical and molecular mechanisms in the cross-talk between glial cells (microglia, astrocytes or oligodendrocytes) and neurons in physiological conditions, as well as their alterations in neurodegenerative diseases to identify potential therapeutic targets.

Research themes

  1. Role of microglia in neuroprotection and its alterations in neuropathological conditions: identification of proteins and miRNAs secreted by glial cells both as soluble molecules and through exosomes in neurodegenerative conditions, in collaboration with Dr. Zuccheri (FaBiT), as well as identification of long non-coding RNAs in neuroinflammation, in collaboration with Prof. Casadei (QUVI) and Prof. Frabetti (DIMEC), within the PNRR-CN3;
  2. Alterations of oligodendrocytes and neuronal precursor cells in ACG-1 deficiency: study of the mechanisms of proliferation/differentiation in physiological conditions and their alterations in the rare, neurodegenerative and demyelinating genetic pathology AGC-1 deficiency, by using in vitro (cell lines, neurospheres and brain cells derived from human iPS) and in vivo models, in collaboration with Dr. Lasorsa, (Univ. Bari), within a Telethon project and PNRR-PE12;
  3. Screening and study of the effect of small synthetic molecules on neuronal survival, neuro-glio-regeneration and immunomodulation, in collaboration with Prof. Bolognesi and Minarini (FaBiT), and other international research groups.

Lab Members

Barbara Monti, Full Professor (e-mail)

Francesca Massenzio, Junior Assistant Professor (e-mail)

Eleonora Poeta, Post-doctoral researcher

Giorgia Babini, PhD Student

Internship projects

2 internship projects/academic year for master’s degree students in Molecular and Cell Biology/Health Biology;

2 internship projects / academic year for bachelor’s degree students in Biotechnology.

Main publications

  • De Chirico F, Poeta E, Babini G, Piccolino I, Monti B, Massenzio F. New models of Parkinson's like neuroinflammation in human microglia clone 3: Activation profiles induced by INF-γ plus high glucose and mitochondrial inhibitors. Front Cell Neurosci. 2022 Nov 29;16:1038721. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2022.1038721. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2022.1038721/full
  • Poeta E, Petralla S, Babini G, Renzi B, Celauro L, Magnifico MC, Barile SN, Masotti M, De Chirico F, Massenzio F, Viggiano L, Palmieri L, Virgili M, Lasorsa FM, Monti B. Histone Acetylation Defects in Brain Precursor Cells: A Potential Pathogenic Mechanism Causing Proliferation and Differentiation Dysfunctions in Mitochondrial Aspartate-Glutamate Carrier Isoform 1 Deficiency. Front Cell Neurosci. 2022 Jan 12;15:773709. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2021.773709. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2021.773709/full
  • Petralla S, De Chirico F, Miti A, Tartagni O, Massenzio F, Poeta E, Virgili M, Zuccheri G, Monti B. Epigenetics and Communication Mechanisms in Microglia Activation with a View on Technological Approaches. 2021 Feb 18;11(2):306. doi: 10.3390/biom11020306. https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/11/2/306
  • Petralla S, Peña-Altamira LE, Poeta E, Massenzio F, Virgili M, Barile SN, Sbano L, Profilo E, Corricelli M, Danese A, Giorgi C, Ostan R, Capri M, Pinton P, Palmieri F, Lasorsa FM, Monti B. Deficiency of Mitochondrial Aspartate-Glutamate Carrier 1 Leads to Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cell Proliferation Defects Both In Vitro and In Vivo. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 11;20(18):4486. doi: 10.3390/ijms20184486. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/18/4486
  • Massenzio F, Peña-Altamira E, Petralla S, Virgili M, Zuccheri G, Miti A, Polazzi E, Mengoni I, Piffaretti D, Monti B. Microglial overexpression of fALS-linked mutant SOD1 induces SOD1 processing impairment, activation and neurotoxicity and is counteracted by the autophagy inducer trehalose. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2018 Dec;1864(12):3771-3785. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2018.10.013.