Physiopathology of neural stem cells

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Group leader:  Annalisa Buffo 

Physiopathology of neural stem cells

Our research focuses on the role of glia and progenitor cells in brain plasticity and repair , and on the implementation of cell replacement approaches and/or training protocols to promote functional recovery in CNS diseases.

We believe that specific issues regarding glia and neural progenitors are particularly promising to both unveil new keys to the understanding of physiology, and accomplish therapeutic actions to cure disease and promote repair in acute and chronic neurodegenerative pathologies. As for astrocytes, very little is known on how distinct astroglial subtypes are specified and how much it impacts the shaping of the circuits. Further, mechanisms underlying the acquisition of stem cell properties in parenchymal astroglia remain undefined. We address these issues by studying the specification of astroglial subtypes in the cerebellum, and the latent stem cell properties of adult striatal astroglia.

Oligodendrocyte progenitors self-maintain but have limited capability to repair myelin. Understanding their biology will help fostering myelin regeneration and reveal unsuspected functions of these progenitors in their crosstalk with neurons.

Recent advancements in human stem cell technology and reprogramming prompt the need of developing strategies to obtain proper differentiation into specific neuronal identities and functional integration in the recipient brain. Moreover, based on the efficacy of external stimuli and training to promote circuit plasticity, rehabilitation protocols appear as promising tools to promote adaptive remodelling of defective circuits and to enhance the integration of transplanted cells into the recipient tissue, therefore boosting functional recovery. We perform preclinical studies to define therapies for neurological diseases based on adaptive cell replacement and/or manipulation of circuit plasticity.

Services and Products for preclinical proof of concepts

Our spinoff provides scientific expertise, animal models, equipment and facilities to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device Companies and to Research Centers for proof–of-concept or pilot in vivo studies.


Allele-specific silencing as treatment for gene duplication disorders: proof-of-principle in autosomal dominant leukodystrophy.

Brain , 29 May 2019
Giorgio E, Lorenzati M, Rivetti di Val Cervo P, Brussino A, Cernigoj M, Della Sala E, Bartoletti Stella A, Ferrero M, Caiazzo M, Capellari S, Cortelli P, Conti L, Cattaneo E, Buffo A, Brusco A.

24 june 2019

Multiple origins and modularity in the spatiotemporal emergence of cerebellar astrocyte heterogeneity

Plos Biology , 27 September 2018
V Cerrato, E Parmigiani, M Figueres-Oñate, M Betizeau, J Aprato, I Nanavaty, P Berchialla, F Luzzati, C de’Sperati, L Lopez-Mascaraque, A Buffo

10 october 2018

Glia-to-neuron transfer of miRNAs via extracellular vesicles: a new mechanism underlying inflammation-induced synaptic alterations.

Acta Neuropathologica , April 2018
Prada I, Gabrielli M, Turola E, Iorio A, D'Arrigo G, Parolisi R, De Luca M, Pacifici M, Bastoni M, Lombardi M, Legname G, Cojoc D, Buffo A, Furlan R, Peruzzi F, Verderio C

8 april 2018

Control of Cell Shape, Neurite Outgrowth, and Migration by a Nogo-A/HSPG Interaction

Developmental Cell , September 2017
Anissa Kempf, Enrica Boda, Jessica C.F. Kwok, Rafael Fritz, Valentina Grande, Andrea M. Kaelin, Zorica Ristic, Andre Schmandke, Antonio Schmandke, Bjoern Tews, James W. Fawcett, Olivier Pertz, Annalisa Buffo and Martin E. Schwab

9 october 2017

Preventive motor training but not progenitor grafting ameliorates cerebellar ataxia and deregulated autophagy in tambaleante mice.

Neurobiology of Disease , February 2017
Fucà E, Guglielmotto M, Boda E, Rossi F †, Leto K, Buffo A

9 march 2017