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.


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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.


Not all oligodendrocyte precursors are created equal

Nature Communication , 28 April 2022

Molecular and functional heterogeneity in dorsal and ventral oligodendrocyte progenitor cells of the mouse forebrain in response to DNA damage. 

Enrica Boda, Martina Lorenzati, Roberta Parolisi, Brian Harding, Gianmarco Pallavicini, Luca Bonfanti, Amanda Moccia, Stephanie Bielas, Ferdinando Di Cunto, Annalisa Buffo

5 may 2022

SPACER: A single cell SPAtiotemporal transcriptomic atlas to unveil CERebellar development and function in mouse

SPACER , conceived by Prof. Annalisa Buffo and by the post doc Valentina Cerrato from the Physiopathology of neural stem cells group , is among the projects selected as winners of a highly competitive call of the European consortium EASI Genomics, in the frame of the Horizon 2020 program. In total, 143 research groups from 27 countries all over the world applied in response to this call, but only 33 projects were selected.

10 november 2021

Air pollution and Multiple Sclerosis: PM effects on neuroinflammation and myelin repair

Neurochemistry International , May 2021
Parolisi R, Montarolo F, Pini A, Rovelli S, Cattaneo A, Bertolotto A, Buffo A, Bollati V, Boda E

This work, which is the result of an annual multicenter pilot project supported by the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, has shown for the first time that exposure to PM has negative effects on the regenerative capacities of the nervous tissue, and in particular of myelin.

10 march 2021

NSC-Reconstruct - Novel Strategies for Cell-based Neural Reconstruction (Horizon 2020)

The European project NSC-Reconstruct - Novel Strategies for Cell-based Neural Reconstruction (Horizon 2020) has started today with a web-kick-off meeting. Prof. Annalisa Buffo (NICO - Department of Neuroscience of the University of Turin) leads work package 3, which is aimed at developing strategies for the repair of complex brain networks, such as those affected in Huntington's disease.

The overall goal of the project is to develop and optimize strategies based on effective neuronal replacement and circuit reconstruction to treat neurodegenerative diseases. NSC-Reconstruct is coordinated by Prof. Elena Cattaneo, University of Milan which brings together 13 partners including universities, research centers, industries and SMEs from six European countries.

3 april 2020

Stem Cell-Derived Human Striatal Progenitors Innervate Striatal Targets and Alleviate Sensorimotor Deficit in a Rat Model of Huntington Disease

Stem Cell Reports , 16 April 2020

Besusso D, Schellino R, Boido M, Belloli S, Parolisi R, Conforti P, Faedo A, Cernigoj M,Campus I, Laporta A, Dickinson Bocchi V, Murtaj V, Parmar M,Spaiardi P, Talpo F,Maniezzi C, Toselli MG, Biella G, Moresco RM, Vercelli A, Buffo A, and Cattaneo E

20 april 2020