Adult neurogenesis

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Group leader:  Luca Bonfanti and  Paolo Peretto



Sounds and pheromones: neural networks merging olfactory and acoustic cues in sexual imprinting
November 2020 - October 2023 | Human Frontier Science Program Research Grant

Serena Bovetti, Paolo Peretto; NICO, Università di Torino, Italy
Sylvain Gigan, Claudio Moretti; Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel, Sorbonne Université Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
Dustin Penn, Sarah Zala; Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Veterinary Medicine University, Vienna, Austria

Our main aim in this project is to identify the regions of the brain and the specific neural circuits that are influenced by sexual imprinting during postnatal development, and determine how these circuits influence adult mating behavior in wild house mice. To achieve these aims, we created a new interdisciplinary collaboration between three groups with very different expertise; indeed the project integrates neuroscience, ethology and advanced optics.

Boosting adult neural stem cell function to counteract aging and cognitive decline  
December 2019 - June 2021 | Fondazione CRT

Serena Bovetti, Silvia De Marchis

The project aims to unravel the role of mitochondrial function in adult hippocampal neural stem cells (NSCs) focusing on the strong transcriptional regulator COUP-TFI. To this aim we will combine mouse genetics to manipulate COUP-TFI expression in hippocampal NSCs, with  in vivo  two-photon microscopy and  in vitro  functional imaging.

Imaging cellular dynamics in the central nervous system
2019 - 2021 | Progetti di ricerca ex-post di Ateneo (University of Torino and Compagnia di San Paolo)

Federico Luzzati

The project aims at unravelling the mechanisms and role of lesion induced neurogenic activation of parenchymal astrocytes. To this aim we will use will analyze by 2P miscroscopy astrocytes and their crosstalk with surrounding tissue, with special attention to the modifications of the NVU, as neurogenically activated astrocytes are in close contact with blood vessels.

A new non-invasive approach to the investigation of cerebral activity in domestic animals using functional near-infraredspectroscopy: Implications on animal welfare and on comparative system and cognitive neuroscience
PRIN-2015 (2015Y5W9YP) | active 2017-2019

Luca Bonfanti, Turin unity coordinator

The main aim of this project is to study the functional organization of the central nervous system (CNS) of freely-moving sheep by the non-invasive application of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).Specifically, we intend to record the oxygen consumption of selected areas of the brain involved in the performance ofvarious tasks by applying especially adapted fNIRS instruments to the head of the sheep.The Turin Unit aims at obtaining data on the plasticity of the immature neurons in the cortex and their responses to external stimuli underthe different experimental conditions.

Fondazione Umberto Veronesi
Sara Bonzano (Supervisor: Silvia De Marchis)

First year (Grant 2018)

Unravelling the cell-intrinsic mechanisms of adult neurogenesis to counteract aging: the role of COUP-TFI on mitochondrial function in adult hippocampal NSCs

Based on the key role of the strong transcriptional regulator COUP-TFI in NSC activity and new evidence that its haploinsufficiency in humans could affect mitochondrial integrity, this project aims to unveil the causal link between COUP-TFI and mitochondrial function. To this goal, the project takes advantage of gain-/loss-of-function genetic approaches coupled to fate mapping and cutting-edge optical tools, including a new implementation of in vivo two-photon functional imaging, to shed light into mitochondrial dynamics/function in adult hippocampal NSC lineage.

Second year  ( Grant 2019)

Restoring adult neurogenesis in the aged hippocampus to counteract age-related cognitive decline

This project focuses on a challenging research topic: how adult hippocampal neural stem cells lose their ability to produce new neurons and how we can manipulate them to restore their proper function in the aged mouse brain. We hypothesize that the reactivation of the strong molecular regulator COUP-TFI, normally promoting neurogenesis in the young brain and whose function is lost during aging, could “rejuvenate” senescent hippocampal NSCs and ameliorate cognitive skills.

Endogenous source of neural progenitor/stem cells for CNS repair
2014-September 2016 | Fondazione CRT

Luca Bonfanti and Paolo Peretto co-proponent with Annalisa Buffo, NICO

This project is focused on the study of adult neurogenesis in the corpus striatum of different mammalian species characterized by diverse levels of striatal parenchymal neurogenesis, namely:

  • the mouse, in which the neurogenic process can be induced after injury;
  • rabbits  in which neurogenesis is spontaneous and active throughout adult life;
  • the guinea pig, in which neurogenesis is transient and limited to a postnatal window.
    The final goal is to define possible common mechanisms underlying the neurogenic process in the brain parenchyma and therefore to identify  signals/key molecules whose genetic manipulation can promote reparative events.

Study of the molecular aspects of adult neurogenesis in a transgenic mouse model
2014-June 2016 | Galileo G14-96 - Italian French University

In collaboration with the University Sophia Antipolis (Nice, France)
This project support the collaboration between our group and the laboratory of  Dr. Michele Studer at the University Sophia – Antipolis  in relation to the study of the role of the transcription factor COUP-TFI in regulating adult neurogenesis.
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