Molecular Neuropharmacology. Coordinators: Romualdi/Candeletti

Study of the role of modulatory systems (opioids, endocannabinoids, neurotrophins) in the molecular, epigenetic and gene expression mechanisms involved in tolerance and substance use disorders induced by addictive drugs; in the stress responses; in nociceptive transmission and in transition to chronic pain; in the development of neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases

Research themes

-Substance use disorders (SUD)

Study of the role of neuromodulatory systems (endogenous opioids, endocannabinoids, neurotrophins) in molecular (receptors, signal transduction and transcription factors), genetic (gene expression) and epigenetic (DNA methylation, histone modifications and related enzymes) mechanisms in different experimental models  (in vivo and in vitro) to identify new pharmacological targets for the therapy of CNS diseases, such as substance use disorders (opiates, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabinoids, nicotine and alcohol). Role of social stress induced by early experiences in adolescence and adulthood in the development of S.U.D. Investigation of the role of neuroinflammatory processes in pathogenesis of addiction.


Molecular and behavioral studies on the role of neuropeptidergic systems (opioid and non-opioid) in nociceptive transmission, in the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of chronic neuropathic pain, in neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Use of in vivo and in vitro models of chronic pain, analysis of the mechanisms underlying painful pathologies by analgesimetric,  behavioral and molecular biology techniques. Assessment of pharmacological effects of natural substances, in vitro and in vivo.

-Neurodegenerative diseases

Study of gene expression and related epigenetic mechanisms for neuromodulators involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer in experimental models (in vitro and in vivo) and in clinical setting (receptor analysis, signal transduction pathways and transcription factors). Evaluation of DNA (site-specific) methylation and histone modifications induced by different pathological conditions to identify innovative pharmacological targets. Investigation on the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.

Lab members

Prof. Patrizia Romualdi (PI)

Prof. Sanzio Candeletti (PI)

Dr. Laura Rullo (Post Doc)

Dr. Loredana Maria Losapio (PhD Student)

Dr. Camilla Morosini (Research Fellow)

Dr. Francesca Felicia Caputi (External Collaborator)

Internship projects 

6 posistions per year for undergraduated students of CTF, Pharmacy, Genomics, Biotecnologie, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, SFA.

Main publications

  • Rullo, L., Franchi, S., Amodeo, G., Caputi, F. F., Verduci, B., Losapio, L. M., Sacerdote, P., Romualdi, P., & Candeletti, S. (2021). Interplay between Prokineticins and Histone Demethylase KDM6A in a Murine Model of Bortezomib-Induced Neuropathy. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(21), 11913.
  • Costa, G., Caputi, F. F., Serra, M., Simola, N., Rullo, L., Stamatakos, S., Sanna, F., Germain, M., Martinoli, M. G., Candeletti, S., Morelli, M., & Romualdi, P. (2021). Activation of Antioxidant and Proteolytic Pathways in the Nigrostriatal Dopaminergic System After 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine Administration: Sex-Related Differences. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 713486.
  • Caputi, F. F., Di Cesare Mannelli, L., Rullo, L., Micheli, L., Stamatakos, S., Posa, L., Ghelardini, C., Romualdi, P., & Candeletti, S. (2020). The active second-generation proteasome inhibitor oprozomib reverts the oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy symptoms. Biochemical pharmacology, 182, 114255.
  • Caputi, F. F., Carboni, L., Rullo, L., Alessandrini, I., Balzani, E., Melotti, R. M., Romualdi, P., Candeletti, S., & Fanelli, A. (2021). An Exploratory Pilot Study of Changes in Global DNA Methylation in Patients Undergoing Major Breast Surgery Under Opioid-Based General Anesthesia. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 733577.
  • Caputi, F. F., Stopponi, S., Rullo, L., Palmisano, M., Ubaldi, M., Candeletti, S., Ciccocioppo, R., & Romualdi, P. (2021). Dysregulation of Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ and Dynorphin Systems in the Extended Amygdala of Alcohol Preferring Marchigian Sardinian (msP) Rats. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(5), 2448.