Neuroanatomy Lab

Areas of Investigation 

The Laboratory of Neuroanatomy specializes in the study of Huntington's disease. This disease affects motor coordination, causing cognitive impairment and psychiatric problems. Particularly vulnerable is the striatum, a subcortical component of the brain, part of the basal ganglia. The researches of the Neuroanatomy Laboratory aim to identify the biological and molecular causes that make the striatum particularly vulnerable to this disease. In particular, research is conducted on the distribution of the huntingtin protein, which is crucial for the development of the brain, in different neuronal subtypes of striatum, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and transcription factor CREB.

At the same time, the Laboratory investigation of cellular mechanisms that characterize Huntington's disease, are devoted to observing cholinergic interneurons. This particular subset of neural striatum fact presents characteristics of resistance to typical degenerative processes of this disease such as cerebral ischemia. Among the molecular characteristics which make these cells less vulnerable, it is one of the mechanisms involved in the production of an important nerve growth factor, the aforementioned brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).


Preclinical Drug Trials

With due attention to its possible positive effects in the clinical setting, the research activities of the Laboratory of Neuroanatomy are concentrated in particular in the development of therapeutic strategies based drug inhibition of the enzymes of the cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase. The results of studies conducted precisely on the effects of modulation of this group of enzymes in the neuronal degeneration observed in Huntington's disease has led to a clinical trial.

The research methods used in the Laboratory contemplate histology, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, in situ hybridization and RT-PCR, real-time quantitative reverse transcription.

Laboratory of Neuroanatomy

Fondazione Santa Lucia Irccs

Via del Fosso di Fiorano, 64 00143 Rome

European Centre for Brain Research (CERC) – Floor 1 – Room 113