Toxicology and Toxicogenomics. Coordinator: Hrelia

Identification of new preventive strategies for the reduction of risk factors associated to chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer and central nervous system diseases.

The research is aimed at identifying critical biological targets and at understanding the events with a pivotal role in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The search is toward chemopreventive and neuroprotective drugs that would counteract the progression of degenerative diseases. The research group places great interest in developing innovative approaches to detect and quantify the global cellular response to toxic stress. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of methodologies for the definition of early biological response, individual susceptibility and risk from exposure to xenobiotics. The research philosophy is a multidisciplinary approach to preventive and translational medicine.

Research themes

The main research topics can be divided into the following areas:

Toxic stress response in human cell lines

New integrated approaches has been developed with the potential to evaluate the impairment of critical molecular and cellular events related to chronic degenerative pathologies (carcinogenicity, neurodegeneration) induced by drugs and xenobiotics in food and environment and to identify the chain of events leading to those effects. This kind of approach allows the parallel estimation of genetic damage, apoptosis and effects on cell cycle progression.

Biomarkers and risk of chronic degenerative diseases in human populations

Molecular cytogenetic techniques and other biomarkers of exposure and susceptibility are used to understand the risk of chronic diseases in exposed populations, cancer-prone and normal unexposed cohorts. The unique multidisciplinary approach allows the identification of risk factors in the environment and the evaluation of those that contribute to a greater susceptibility to express the exposure-related damage.

Natural polifunctional agents for chemoprevention of cancer and neuroprotection

The research is aimed at studying the interaction of natural multifunctional agents with human tumor cells, leading to a potential chemopreventive activity, in terms of capability to induce apoptosis, cell cycle effects and differentiation, as well as selectivity of action. More recently, bioactive agents have been exercised against the cascade of events leading to neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases. The expected results, through the elucidation of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that orchestrate the different degenerative processes, should facilitate the development of neuroprotective and neurorestorative strategies for pathologies for which there are no effective therapy to date.

Lab members

Prof. Patrizia Hrelia

Prof. Sabrina Angelini

Dr Fabiana Morroni

Dr Monia Lenzi

Dr Giulia Sita

Dr Veronica Cocchi

Internship projects

Five per year. Please contact the Coordinator for information about available places.

Main publications

Morroni, F., et al. (2016). Behav Brain Res 314: 106-15.

Angelini, al.. (2016). Mutat Res.770(Pt A): 58-72.

Ravegnini ,G., et al. (2015) Toxicol Sci.148(1):2-13.

Pandolfi, P, et al. (2015). PLoS One. 10(8):e0135116.

Morroni, F., et al. (2013). Neurotoxicology. 36:63-71.