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Neuroendocrinology Unit  

Lab. Melcangi


Principal Investigator
Silvia Giatti, post doc
Simone Romano, PhD student

Research lines

Our major goal is the study of neuroprotective effects of neuroactive steroids in different experimental models of neurodegeneration (i.e., diabetes, multiple sclerosis, post-finasteride treatment sindrome, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases). In particular, the possible impact of sexual dimorphism is evaluated.

Diabetes- Characterization of pathogenesis in central and peripheral neuropathy (demyelination and neuropathic pain) and evaluation of possible neuroprotective effects mediated by neuroactive steroids.

Multiple sclerosis- neuroactive steroid involvement in the acute and chronic phase of the disease in different experimental models, studing molecular (i.e., myelination process and neuroinflammation) and functional parameters.

Post-finasteride treatment sindrome- The molecular and functional effects of finasteride treatment (an inhibitor of the metabolic conversion of progesterone and testosterone) are evaluated in an experimental model.

Neurosteroidogenesis- Steroidogenic enzyme expression analysis and determination of neuroactive steroid levels by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (in collaboration with prof. Donatella Caruso) in experimental models of neurodegeneration.



Nucleid acid and protein extraction

Real time PCR

RNAse protection assay

Western Blot

Enzymatic activity

Spectrophotometer techniques


Most relevant pubblications:

Caruso D, Pesaresi M, Abbiati F, Calabrese D, Giatti S, Garcia-Segura LM, Melcangi RC. Comparison of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid levels of neuroactive steroids with their brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerve levels in male and female rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013. doi:pii: S0306-4530(13)00154-6.

Caruso D, Barron AM, Brown MA, Abbiati F, Carrero P, Pike CJ, Garcia-Segura LM, Melcangi RC. Age-related changes in neuroactive steroid levels in 3xTg-AD mice. Neurobiol Aging. 34:1080-1089, 2013.

Barron AM, Garcia.Segura LM, Caruso D, Jayaraman A, Lee J-W, Melcangi RC, Pike C Ligand for translocator protein reverses pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci. 33:8891-8897, 2013.

Giatti S, Boraso M, Melcangi RC, Viviani B. Neuroactive steroids, their metabolites, and neuroinflammation. J Mol Endocrinol. 49:R125-134, 2012.

Giatti S, Caruso D, Boraso M, Abbiati F, Ballarini E, Calabrese D, Pesaresi M, Rigolio R, Santos-Galindo M, Viviani B, Cavaletti G, Garcia-Segura LM, Melcangi R.C. Neuroprotective effects of progesterone in chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Neuroendocrinol. 24: 851-861, 2012.

Melcangi RC, Panzica G, Garcia-Segura LM. Neuroactive steroids: focus on human brain. Neuroscience. 191:1-5, 2011.

Pesaresi M, Giatti S, Cavaletti G, Abbiati F, Calabrese D, Bianchi R, Caruso D, Garcia-Segura LM, Melcangi RC. Sex differences in the manifestation of peripheral diabetic neuropathy in gonadectomized rats: A correlation with the levels of neuroactive steroids in the sciatic nerve. Exp Neurol. 228:215-221, 2011.

Melcangi RC, Garcia-Segura LM. Sex-specific therapeutic strategies based on neuroactive steroids: In search for innovative tools for neuroprotection. Horm Behav. 57:2-11, 2010.

Caruso D, D'Intino G, Giatti S, Maschi O, Pesaresi M, Calabrese D, Garcia-Segura LM, Calza L, Melcangi RC. Sex-dimorphic changes in neuroactive steroid levels after chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Neurochem. 114:921-932, 2010.

Melcangi RC, Panzica G. Neuroactive steroids: an update of their roles in central and peripheral nervous system. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 34 (Suppl 1):S1-8, 2009.
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