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Via Giuseppe Moruzzi, 1
56124 - Pisa
I have always been catched by the concept of “neural plasticity”, i.e., the capability of the brain to adapt its structure and function to adjust its output to variations in the input, either in physiological conditions (e.g., learning and memory), or in pathology (e.g., a brain lesion). Indeed, understanding the basic physiology regulating neural plasticity, and how external factors and molecules can modify it, is a fundamental question in neurobiology.
In this regard, my current scientific interests are
i. establishing a map of plasticity at the single-synapse level in response to behavioral stimuli that trigger learning and memory;
ii. defining the molecular fingerprint of synapses actively undergoing plasticity processes
iii. finding strategies to manipulate synaptic plasticity in a non-invasive manner
I am tackling these problems using a combination of electrophysiology, imaging and biochemistry, with the hope of translating the findings to pathological contexts in which synaptic plasticity and neural circuit function are altered, such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders.
Testa G, Olimpico F, Pancrazi L, Borello U, Cattaneo A, Caleo M, Costa M, Mainardi M. “Cortical Seizures in FoxG1+/- Mice Are Accompanied by Akt/S6 Overactivation, Excitation/Inhibition Imbalance and Impaired Synaptic Transmission”. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2019 20 (17). doi: 10.3390/ijms20174127.
Mainardi M*, Spinelli M, Scala F, Mattera A, Fusco S, D'Ascenzo M, Grassi C*. “Loss of Leptin-Induced Modulation of Hippocampal Synaptic Trasmission and Signal Transduction in High-Fat Diet-Fed Mice”. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 2017 Jul 28;11:225. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00225. *Co-corresponding authors
Spinelli M, Fusco S, Mainardi M, Scala F, Natale F, Lapenta R, Mattera A, Rinaudo M, Li Puma DD, Ripoli C, Grassi A, D'Ascenzo M, Grassi C. “Brain insulin resistance impairs hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory by increasing GluA1 palmitoylation through FoxO3a”. Nature Communications, 2017 Dec 8;8(1):2009. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02221-9.
Mainardi M*, Di Garbo A, Caleo M, Berardi N, Sale A, Maffei L. “Environmental enrichment strengthens corticocortical interactions and reduces amyloid-β oligomers in aged mice”. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2014 Jan 23;6:1. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00001. *Corresponding author
Mainardi M, Scabia G, Vottari T, Santini F, Pinchera A, Maffei L, Pizzorusso T, Maffei M. “A sensitive period for environmental regulation of eating behaviour and leptin sensitivity”. PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010 Sep 21;107(38):16673-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911832107.