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Pisu Maria Giuseppina

Cittadella Universitaria di Monserrato
S.S. 554, Km 4,5
09042 Monserrato (CA)
Tel 070-6754134-4172
Fax 070-6754320
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Effect of stress on brain development and vulnerability to psychopathology

Research summary

The main interest of our lab is to characterize, through neurochemical and behavioral techniques, the molecular mechanism involved in the modulation of brain development elicited by different environmental conditions. Thus, the effects of maternal interaction, social isolation, social enrichments as well as the effect of mild stress stimuli is evaluated on those mechanisms modulating GABAergic transmission and HPA function. In addition, we are trying to understand if environmental influences in early life affect the stress phenotype of the next generation.

Research’s Topics

Effect of stress during life on brain neurosteroids concentration and GABAA receptor function

Transgenerational transmission of functional changes induced by chronic stress that alters the basal activity and reactivity of the HPA axis.


Representative publications

Pisu MG, Garau A, Olla P, Biggio F, Utzeri C, Dore R, Serra M,
Altered stress responsiveness and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function in male rat offspring of socially isolated parents. J Neurochem. 126(4):493-502, 2013.

Pisu MG, Dore R, Mostallino MC, Loi M, Pibiri F, Mameli R, Cadeddu R, Secci PP, Serra M,
Down-regulation of hippocampal BDNF and Arc associated with improvement in aversive spatial memory performance in socially isolated rats.Behav Brain Res. 222(1):73-80, 2011.

Pisu MG, Mostallino MC, Dore R, Maciocco E, Secci PP, Serra M,
Effects of voluntary ethanol consumption on emotional state and stress responsiveness in socially isolated rats. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 21(5):414-25, 2011.

Serra M, Pisu MG, Mostallino MC, E.Sanna and G.Biggio,
Changes in neuroactive steroid content during social isolation stress modulate GABAA receptor plasticity and function. Brain Res Rev. 57(2):520-30, 2008.                                       

Pisu MG, Mostallino MC, Dore R, ML Mura, Maciocco E, E Russo, G De Sarro, Serra M,
Neuroactive steroids and GABAA receptor plasticity in the brain of the WAG/Rij rat, a model of absence epilepsy. J Neurochem. 106(6):2502-14, 2008.

M. Serra, Mostallino MC, G. Talani, Pisu MG, M. Carta, M.L. Mura, I. Floris, Maciocco E, E. Sanna and Biggio F,
Social isolation-induced in a4 and d subunit gene expression is associated with a greater efficacy of ethanol in steroidogenesis and GABAA receptor function. J. Neurochem. 98: 122-133, 2006.  

Pisu MG, I. Floris I, Maciocco E, Serra M, Biggio F,
Anticipation and consumption of food each increase the concentration of neuroactive steroids in rat brain and plasma.Pharm. Biochem Behav. 85 (1): 76-81, 2006.   

Serra M, Pisu MG, Floris I and Biggio F,
Social isolation–induced changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat. Stress 8 (4): 259-264, 2005.  

Serra M, Pisu MG, Floris I, Floris S, Cannas E, Mossa A, Trapani G, Purdy RH and Biggio F,
Social isolation increases the response of peripheral benzodiazepine receptors in the rat. Neurochem. Intern. 45: 141-148, 2004.

Serra M, Pisu MG, Floris I, Cara V, Purdy RH and Biggio F,
Social isolation-induced increase in the sensitivity of rats to the steroidogenic effect of ethanol. J. of Neurochem. 85: 257-263, 2003.

Serra M, Pisu MG, Littera M, Papi G, Sanna E, Tuveri F, Usala L, Purdy RH and Biggio F,
Social isolation-induced decreases in both the abundance of neuroactive steroids and GABAA receptor function in rat brain. J.Neurochem. 75: 732-740, 2000.