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ANTONIETTA VILELLA

Ricercatore t.d. art. 24 c. 3 lett. A
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Metaboliche e Neuroscienze sede ex-Sc. Biomediche


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Pubblicazioni

2022 - Bioresorbable Nanostructured Chemical Sensor for Monitoring of pH Level In Vivo [Articolo su rivista]
Corsi, Martina; Paghi, Alessandro; Mariani, Stefano; Golinelli, Giulia; Debrassi, Aline; Egri, Gabriella; Leo, Giuseppina; Vandini, Eleonora; Vilella, Antonietta; Dähne, Lars; Giuliani, Daniela; Barillaro, Giuseppe
abstract

Here, the authors report on the manufacturing and in vivo assessment of a bioresorbable nanostructured pH sensor. The sensor consists of a micrometer-thick porous silica membrane conformably coated layer-by-layer with a nanometer-thick multilayer stack of two polyelectrolytes labeled with a pH-insensitive fluorophore. The sensor fluorescence changes linearly with the pH value in the range 4 to 7.5 upon swelling/shrinking of the polymer multilayer and enables performing real-time measurements of the pH level with high stability, reproducibility, and accuracy, over 100 h of continuous operation. In vivo studies carried out implanting the sensor in the subcutis on the back of mice confirm real-time monitoring of the local pH level through skin. Full degradation of the pH sensor occurs in one week from implant in the animal model, and its biocompatibility after 2 months is confirmed by histological and fluorescence analyses. The proposed approach can be extended to the detection of other (bio)markers in vivo by engineering the functionality of one (at least) of the polyelectrolytes with suitable receptors, thus paving the way to implantable bioresorbable chemical sensors.


2021 - A regional and cellular analysis of the early intracellular and extracellular accumulation of Aβ in the brain of 5XFAD mice [Articolo su rivista]
Daini, E.; Secco, V.; Liao, W.; Zoli, M.; Vilella, A.
abstract

Intracellular Aβ (iAβ) expression, extracellular Aβ (eAβ) plaque formation and microglial reactivity are characteristic neuropathological events of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and have been detected in several transgenic mouse models of this disease. In this work we decided to investigate the early (2–7 months of age) development of these phenomena at both regional and cellular levels in 5XFAD mice, a severe transgenic mouse model of AD. We demonstrated that 1) Aβ pathology develops in many but not all brain regions, 2) iAβ is transient and almost always followed by eAβ in grey matter regions, and the respective levels are roughly proportional, and 3) in about 1/3 of the grey matter regions with Aβ pathology and in several white matter regions, eAβ plaques can appear where no iAβ-positive structures were detected. We also showed that male and female mice share a similar regional and cellular pattern of Aβ pathology development that is more prominent in females. Early iAβ is associated to the activation of microglia, while subsequent formation of eAβ plaques is associated with markedly increased density of microglial cells that acquire a characteristic clustered phenotype. Present analysis is relevant to set a reference for pathophysiological studies and to define specific targets for the test of therapeutic interventions in this widely used AD transgenic model.


2021 - Dorsal and ventral striatal neuronal subpopulations differentially disrupt male mouse copulatory behavior [Articolo su rivista]
Detraux, B.; Vilella, A.; De Groote, A.; Schiffmann, S. N.; Zoli, M.; de Kerchove d'Exaerde, A.
abstract

The specific role of the striatum, especially its dorsolateral (DLS) and dorsomedial (DMS) parts, in male copulatory behavior is still debated. In order to clarify their contribution to male sexual behavior, we specifically ablated the major striatal neuronal subpopulations, direct and indirect medium spiny neurons (dMSNs and iMSNs) in DMS or DLS, and dMSNs, iMSNs and cholinergic interneurons in nucleus accumbens (NAc), The main results of this study can be summarized as follows: In DMS, dMSN ablation causes a reduction in the percent of mice that mount a receptive female, and a complex alteration in the parameters of the copulatory performance, that is largely opposite to the alterations induced by iMSN ablation. In DLS, dMSN ablation causes a widespread alteration in the copulatory behavior parameters, that tends to disappear at repetition of the test; iMSN ablation induces minor copulatory behavior alterations that are complementary to those observed after dMSN ablation. In NAc, dMSN ablation causes a marked reduction in the percent of mice that mount a receptive female and a disruption of copulatory behavior, while iMSN ablation induces minor copulatory behavior alterations that are opposite to those observed with dMSN ablation, and cholinergic neuron ablation induces a selective decrease in mount latency. Overall, present data point to a complex region and cell-specific contribution to copulatory behavior of the different neuronal subpopulations of both dorsal and ventral striatum, with a prominent role of the dMSNs of the different subregions.


2021 - Identification of a Thyroid Hormone Derivative as a Pleiotropic Agent for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease [Articolo su rivista]
Runfola, M.; Perni, M.; Yang, X.; Marchese, M.; Bacci, A.; Mero, S.; Santorelli, F. M.; Polini, B.; Chiellini, G.; Giuliani, D.; Vilella, A.; Bodria, M.; Daini, E.; Vandini, E.; Rudge, S.; Gul, S.; Wakelam, M. O. J.; Vendruscolo, M.; Rapposelli, S.
abstract

The identification of effective pharmacological tools for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) represents one of the main challenges for therapeutic discovery. Due to the variety of pathological processes associated with AD, a promising route for pharmacological intervention involves the development of new chemical entities that can restore cellular homeostasis. To investigate this strategy, we designed and synthetized SG2, a compound related to the thyroid hormone thyroxine, that shares a pleiotropic activity with its endogenous parent compound, including autophagic flux promotion, neuroprotection, and metabolic reprogramming. We demonstrate herein that SG2 acts in a pleiotropic manner to induce recovery in a C. elegans model of AD based on the overexpression of Aβ42 and improves learning abilities in the 5XFAD mouse model of AD. Further, in vitro ADME-Tox profiling and toxicological studies in zebrafish confirmed the low toxicity of this compound, which represents a chemical starting point for AD drug development.


2021 - S100B dysregulation during brain development affects synaptic SHANK protein networks via alteration of zinc homeostasis [Articolo su rivista]
Daini, E.; Hagmeyer, S.; De Benedictis, C. A.; Cristovao, J. S.; Bodria, M.; Ross, A. M.; Raab, A.; Boeckers, T. M.; Feldmann, J.; Gomes, C. M.; Zoli, M.; Vilella, A.; Grabrucker, A. M.
abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and nongenetic factors. Among the nongenetic factors, maternal immune system activation and zinc deficiency have been proposed. Intriguingly, as a genetic factor, copy-number variations in S100B, a pro-inflammatory damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP), have been associated with ASD, and increased serum S100B has been found in ASD. Interestingly, it has been shown that increased S100B levels affect zinc homeostasis in vitro. Thus, here, we investigated the influence of increased S100B levels in vitro and in vivo during pregnancy in mice regarding zinc availability, the zinc-sensitive SHANK protein networks associated with ASD, and behavioral outcomes. We observed that S100B affects the synaptic SHANK2 and SHANK3 levels in a zinc-dependent manner, especially early in neuronal development. Animals exposed to high S100B levels in utero similarly show reduced levels of free zinc and SHANK2 in the brain. On the behavioral level, these mice display hyperactivity, increased stereotypic and abnormal social behaviors, and cognitive impairment. Pro-inflammatory factors and zinc-signaling alterations converge on the synaptic level revealing a common pathomechanism that may mechanistically explain a large share of ASD cases.


2020 - Novel peptide-conjugated nanomedicines for brain targeting: In vivo evidence [Articolo su rivista]
Duskey, J. T.; Ottonelli, I.; Da Ros, F.; Vilella, A.; Zoli, M.; Kovachka, S.; Spyrakis, F.; Vandelli, M. A.; Tosi, G.; Ruozi, B.
abstract

Central nervous system (CNS) compartments remain one of the most difficult districts for drug delivery. This is due to the presence of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) that hampers 90% of drug passage, dramatically requiring non-invasive treatment strategies. Here, for the first time, the use of opioid-derived deltorphin-derivative peptides to drive biodegradable and biocompatible polymeric (i.e. poly-lactide-co-glycolide, PLGA) nanomedicines delivery across the BBB was described. Opioid-derived peptides were covalently conjugated to furnish activated polymers which were further used for fluorescently tagged nanoformulations. Beyond reporting production, formulation methodology and full physico-chemical characterization, in vivo tests generated clear proof of BBB crossing and CNS targeting by engineered nanomedicines opening the research to further applications of drug delivery and targeting in CNS disease models.


2020 - PLGA-PEG-ANG-2 Nanoparticles for Blood-Brain Barrier Crossing: Proof-of-Concept Study [Articolo su rivista]
Hoyos-Ceballos, Gina P; Ruozi, Barbara; Ottonelli, Ilaria; Da Ros, Federica; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio; Daini, Eleonora; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Tosi, Giovanni; Duskey, Jason T; López-Osorio, Betty L
abstract

The treatment of diseases that affect the central nervous system (CNS) represents a great research challenge due to the restriction imposed by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to allow the passage of drugs into the brain. However, the use of modified nanomedicines engineered with different ligands that can be recognized by receptors expressed in the BBB offers a favorable alternative for this purpose. In this work, a BBB-penetrating peptide, angiopep-2 (Ang-2), was conjugated to poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-based nanoparticles through pre- and post-formulation strategies. Then, their ability to cross the BBB was qualitatively assessed on an animal model. Proof-of-concept studies with fluorescent and confocal microscopy studies highlighted that the brain-targeted PLGA nanoparticles were able to cross the BBB and accumulated in neuronal cells, thus showing a promising brain drug delivery system.


2020 - Targeting Metal Homeostasis as a Therapeutic Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease [Capitolo/Saggio]
Vilella, Antonietta; Daini, Eleonora; De Benedictis, Chiara A.; Grabrucker, Andreas M.
abstract


2019 - DAT atypical inhibitors as novel antipsychotic drugs [Poster]
Daini, Eleonora; Linciano, Pasquale; Sorbi, Claudia; Grilli, Massimo; Zoli, Michele; Franchini, Silvia; Vilella, Antonietta
abstract

Despite its classification as a psychiatric disease, schizophrenia is both a behavioral and a biological disorder resulting in neurocognitive dysfunction. Social and economic costs of schizophrenia are extremely high compared to its incidence and prevalence, however, due to a heterogeneous pattern of brain pathology and symptoms and to an unknown etiology, developing an effective treatment has been really challenging. Among the many neurochemical hypothesis, the dysregulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission has been considered as a central dogma of schizophrenia over the last few decades. In fact, patients with this pathology exhibit increased dopamine (DA) synthesis and release in the striatum which seems to correlate with positive symptoms and moreover, most of the effective antipsychotic drugs (APDs) are D2-receptor antagonists. Unfortunately, chronic treatment with APDs is associated with the induction of extrapyramidal side effects (EPS). In order to identify new possible APDs with a novel mechanism of action and potentially less EPS we tested 3 different compounds generated from the structural modification of vanoxerine (or GBR12909), a known atypical inhibitor of the presynaptic DA transporter (DAT) with cocaine-like activity but cardiotoxic properties that have precluded its clinical use. Preliminary in vitro studies showed that DAhLIs (DAT atypical inhibitors) are able to bind to DAT and inhibit DA reuptake. Additionally, our in vivo results showed that DAhLI i) have putative central effects, ii), unlike vanoxerine, reduce novelty-induced locomotor activity, and iii) counteract cocaine stimulating effects, suggesting that DAhLI may potentiate DA reuptake via DAT. These compounds may provide a way to reduce DA extracellular levels and DA neurotransmission with a selective action on active DA synapses, thus with reduced EPS typical of D2 antagonists, representing a new promising class of presynaptic APDs.


2019 - Distribution and relative abundance of S100 proteins in the brain of the APP23 Alzheimer’s disease model mice [Articolo su rivista]
Hagmeyer, S; Romão, M. A.; Cristóvão, J. S.; Vilella, A.; Zoli, M.; Gomes, C. M.; Grabrucker A., M
abstract

Increasing evidence links proteins of the S100 family to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). S100 proteins are EF-hand calcium-binding proteins with intra- and extracellular functions related to regulation of proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and trace metal homeostasis, and are important modulators of inflammatory responses. For example, S100A6, S100A8, and S100B expression levels were found increased in inflammatory diseases, but also neurodegenerative disorders, and S100A8/A9 complexes may provide a mechanistic link between amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaque formation and neuroinflammation. On the other hand, S100B, a proinflammatory protein that is chronically up-regulated in AD and whose elevation precedes plaque formation, was recently shown to suppress Aβ aggregation. Here, we report expression of S100A6 and S100B in astrocytes and less so in neurons, and low level of expression of S100A8 in both neurons and glial cells in vitro. In vivo, S100A8 expression is almost absent in the brain of aged wildtype mice, while S100A6 and S100B are expressed in all brain regions and most prominently in the cortex and cerebellum. S100B seems to be enriched in Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. In contrast, in the brain of APP23 mice, a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease, S100B, S100A6, and S100A8 show co-localization with Aβ plaques, compatible with astrocyte activation, and the expression level of S100A8 is increased in neural cells. While S100A6 and S100B are enriched in the periphery of plaques where less fibrillar Aβ is found, S100A8 is more intense within the center of the inclusion. In vitro assays show that, similarly to S100B, S100A6, and S100A8 also delay Aβ aggregation suggesting a regulatory action over protein aggregation. We posit that elevated expression levels and overlapping spatial distribution of brain S100 proteins and plaques translates functional relationships between these inflammatory mediators and AD pathophysiology processes that uncover important molecular mechanisms linking the aggregation and neuroinflammation cascades. Copyright © 2019 Hagmeyer, Romão, Cristóvão, Vilella, Zoli, Gomes and Grabrucker. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


2019 - Placebo effect between evidence and myths: How to distinguish true from fake news [Capitolo/Saggio]
Vilella, Antonietta; Pini, Luigi Alberto
abstract


2019 - The Role of Trace Metals in Alzheimer’s Disease [Capitolo/Saggio]
De Benedictis, Chiara A.; Vilella, Antonietta; Grabrucker, Andreas M.
abstract

The extracellular aggregation of insoluble protein deposits of amyloid-β (Aβ) into plaques and the hyperphosphorylation of the intracellular protein tau leading to neurofibrillary tangles are the main pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both Aβ and tau are metal-binding proteins. Essential trace metals such as zinc, copper, and iron play important roles in healthy brain function but altered homeostasis and distribution have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases and aging. In addition, the presence of non-essential trace metals such as aluminum has been associated with AD. Trace metals and abnormal metal metabolism can influence protein aggregation, synaptic signaling pathways, mitochondrial function, oxidative stress levels, and inflammation, ultimately resulting in synapse dysfunction and neuronal loss in the AD brain. Herein we provide an overview of metals and metal-binding proteins and their pathophysiological role in AD.


2018 - Development of a simple and sensitive liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method for the determination of cannabidiol (CBD), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites in rat whole blood after oral administration of a single high dose of CBD [Articolo su rivista]
Palazzoli, Federica; Citti, Cinzia; Licata, Manuela; Vilella, Antonietta; Manca, Letizia; Zoli, Michele; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio; Cannazza, Giuseppe
abstract

The investigation of the possible conversion of cannabidiol (CBD) into Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in vivo after oral administration of CBD is reported herein since recent publications suggested a rapid conversion in simulated gastric fluid. To this end, single high dose of CBD (50 mg/kg) was administered orally to rats and their blood was collected after 3 and 6 h. A highly sensitive and selective LC–MS/MS method was developed and fully validated in compliance with the Scientific Working Group of Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX) standard practices for method validation in forensic toxicology. This method also involved the optimization of cannabinoids and their metabolites extraction in order to remove co-eluting phospholipids and increase the sensitivity of the MS detection. Neither THC nor its metabolites were detected in rat whole blood after 3 or 6 h from CBD administration. After oral administration, the amount of CBD dissolved in olive oil was higher than that absorbed from an ethanolic solution. This could be explained by the protection of lipid excipients towards CBD from acidic gastric juice.


2018 - LPS-induced histone H3 phospho(Ser10)-acetylation(Lys14) regulates neuronal and microglial neuroinflammatory response [Articolo su rivista]
Rigillo, Giovanna; Vilella, Antonietta; Benatti, Cristina; Schaeffer, Laurent; Brunello, Nicoletta; Blom, Johanna M. C.; Zoli, Michele; Tascedda, Fabio
abstract

Epigenetic modifications of DNA and histone proteins are emerging as fundamental mechanisms by which neural cells adapt their transcriptional response to environmental cues, such as, immune stimuli or stress. In particular, histone H3 phospho(Ser10)-acetylation(Lys14) (H3S10phK14ac) has been linked to activation of specific gene expression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of H3S10phK14ac in a neuroinflammatory condition. Adult male rats received a intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (830 μg/Kg/i.p., n = 6) or vehicle (saline 1 mL/kg/i.p., n = 6) and were sacrificed 2 or 6 h later. We showed marked region- and time-specific increases in H3S10phK14ac in the hypothalamus and hippocampus, two principal target regions of LPS. These changes were accompanied by a marked transcriptional activation of interleukin (IL) 1β, IL-6, Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) α, the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and the immediate early gene c-Fos. By means of chromatin immunoprecipitation, we demonstrated an increased region- and time-specific association of H3S10phK14ac with the promoters of IL-6, c-Fos and iNOS genes, suggesting that part of the LPS-induced transcriptional activation of these genes is regulated by H3S10phK14ac. Finally, by means of multiple immunofluorescence approach, we showed that increased H3S10phK14ac is cell type-specific, being neurons and reactive microglia, the principal histological types involved in this response. Present data point to H3S10phK14ac as a principal epigenetic regulator of neural cell response to systemic LPS and underline the importance of distinct time-, region- and cell-specific epigenetic mechanisms that regulate gene transcription to understand the mechanistic complexity of neuroinflammatory response to immune challenges.


2018 - Neuronal and extraneuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors [Articolo su rivista]
Zoli, Michele; Pucci, Susanna; Vilella, Antonietta; Gotti, Cecilia
abstract

Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) belong to a super-family of Cys-loop ligand-gated ion channels that respond to endogenous acetylcholine (ACh) or other cholinergic ligands. These receptors are also the targets of drugs such as nicotine (the main addictive agent delivered by cigarette smoke) and are involved in a variety of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Numerous studies have shown that the expression and/or function of nAChRs is compromised in many neurological and psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that neuronal nAChRs are found in a large number of non neuronal cell types including endothelial cells, glia, immune cells, lung epithelia and cancer cells where they regulate cell differentiation, proliferation and inflammatory responses. The aim of this review is to describe the most recent findings concerning the structure and function of native nAChRs inside and outside the nervous system.


2018 - Reduced plaque size and inflammation in the APP23 mouse model for Alzheimer's disease after chronic application of polymeric nanoparticles for CNS targeted zinc delivery [Articolo su rivista]
Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Sauer, Ann Katrin; Hagmeyer, Simone; Sarowar, Tasnuva; Masoni, Martina; Stasiak, Natalia; Mulvihill, John J. E; Ruozi, Barbara; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Tosi, Giovanni; Zoli, Michele; Grabrucker, Andreas M.
abstract

A local dyshomeostasis of zinc ions in the vicinity of amyloid aggregates has been proposed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) due to the sequestration of zinc in senile plaques. While an increase in zinc levels may promote the aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ), increased brain zinc might also be beneficial rescuing some pathological alterations caused by local zinc deficiency. For example, increased Aβ degradation by metalloproteinases, and a reduction in inflammation can be hypothesized. In addition, zinc may allow a stabilization of the number of synapses in AD brains. Thus, to evaluate whether altering zinc-levels within the brain is a promising new target for the prevention and treatment of AD, we employed novel zinc loaded nanoparticles able to deliver zinc into the brain across the blood-brain barrier. We performed in vivo studies using wild type (WT) and APP23 mice to assess plaque load, inflammatory status and synapse loss. Furthermore, we performed behavioral analyses. After chronically injecting these nanoparticles for 14 days, our results show a significant reduction in plaque size and effects on the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-18. On behavioral level we could not detect negative effects of increased brain zinc levels in APP23 mice and treatment with g7-NP-Zn normalized the observed hyperlocomotion of APP23 mice. Therefore, we conclude that a targeted increase in brain zinc levels may have beneficial effects in AD.


2018 - Untargeted rat brain metabolomics after oral administration of a single high dose of cannabidiol [Articolo su rivista]
Citti, Cinzia; Palazzoli, Federica; Licata, Manuela; Vilella, Antonietta; Leo, Giuseppina; Zoli, Michele; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio; Pacchetti, Barbara; Cannazza, Giuseppe
abstract

Cannabidiol (CBD), for long time considered as a minor cannabinoid of Cannabis sativa, has recently gained much attention due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticonvulsant properties. A liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry based method was developed for the quantitative determination of CBD and other cannabinoids (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-hydroxy-THC and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC) in rat brain samples after oral administration of a single high dose (50 mg/kg) of CBD. The main challenge of the present work was to study CBD pharmacokinetics in rat cortex: the identification of its metabolites and pharmacodynamics through the study of variations in endogenous compounds’ concentrations following CBD administration. An untargeted metabolomics approach revealed the formation of some CBD metabolites that are not commonly found in other body tissues or fluids. Lastly, the changes in some endogenous compounds’ concentrations were correlated with some of the pharmacological properties of this cannabinoid.


2017 - In vivo study of the role of a6-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in retinal function using subtype-specific RDP-MII(E11R) toxin [Articolo su rivista]
Barloscio, Davide; Cerri, Elisa; Domenici, Luciano; Longhi, Renato; Dallanoce, Clelia; Moretti, Milena; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Gotti, Cecilia; Origlia, Nicola
abstract

Although a6-contaning (a6∗) nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are densely expressed in the visual system, their role is not well known.We have characterized a family of toxins that are antagonists for a6b2∗ receptors and used one of these [RDP-MII(E11R)] to localize a6∗ nAChRs and investigate their impact on retinal function inadult Long-Evans rats.Thea6∗nAChRsinretinal tissuewere localized using either a fluorescently tagged [RDP-MII(E11R)] or anti-a6-specific antibodies and found to be predominantly at the level of the ganglion cell layer. After intraocular injection of RDP-MII(E11R) in one eye and vehicle or inactiveMII in contralateral eyes as controls, we recorded flash electroretinograms (F-ERGs), pattern ERGs (P-ERGs), and cortical visual-evoked potential (VEPs). There was no significant difference in F-ERG between the RDP-MII(E11R)-treated and control eyes. In contrast, P-ERG response amplitude was significantly reduced in the RDP-MII(E11R)-injected eye. Blocking a6∗ nAChRs at retinal level also decreased the VEP amplitude recorded in the visual cortex contralateral to the injected eye. Because both the cortical and inner retina output were affected by RDP-MII(E11R), whereas photoreceptor output was preserved, we conclude that the reduced visual response was due to an alteration in the function of a6∗ nAChRs present in the ganglion cell layer.-Barloscio, D., Cerri, E., Domenici, L., Longhi, R., Dallanoce, C., Moretti, M., Vilella,A., Zoli,M.,Gotti, C., andOriglia, N. In vivo study of the roleofa6-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in retinal function using subtype-specific RDP-MII(E11R) toxin. FASEB J. 31, 192-202 (2017). www.fasebj.org.


2017 - Serum protein changes in a rat model of chronic pain show a correlation between animal and humans [Articolo su rivista]
Bellei, Elisa; Vilella, Antonietta; Monari, Emanuela; Bergamini, Stefania; Tomasi, Aldo; Cuoghi, Aurora; Guerzoni, Simona; Manca, Letizia; Zoli, Michele; Pini, Luigi Alberto
abstract

In previous works we showed the overexpression of some proteins in biological fluids from patients suffering chronic pain. In this proteomic study we analysed serum from a rat model of neuropathic pain obtained by the chronic constriction injury (CCI) of sciatic nerve, at two time intervals, 2 and 5 weeks after the insult, to find proteins involved in the expression or mediation of pain. Sham-operated and CCI rats were treated with saline or indomethacin. Two weeks after ligation, we identified three serum proteins overexpressed in CCI rats, two of which, alpha-1-macroglobulin and vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP), remained increased 5 weeks post-surgery; at this time interval, we found increased levels of further proteins, namely apolipoprotein A-I (APOA1), apolipoprotein E (APOE), prostaglandin-H2 D-isomerase (PTGDS) and transthyretin (TTR), that overlap the overexpressed proteins found in humans. Indomethacin treatment reversed the effects of ligation. The qPCR analysis showed that transcript levels of APOA1, APOE, PTGDS and VDBP were overexpressed in the lumbar spinal cord (origin of sciatic nerve), but not in the striatum (an unrelated brain region), of CCI rats treated with saline 5 weeks after surgery, demonstrating that the lumbar spinal cord is a possible source of these proteins.


2016 - Activity and circadian rhythm influence synaptic Shank3 protein levels in mice [Articolo su rivista]
Sarowar, Tasnuva; Chhabra, Resham; Vilella, Antonietta; Boeckers, Tobias M.; Zoli, Michele; Grabrucker, Andreas M.
abstract

Various recent studies revealed that the proteins of the Shank family act as major scaffold organizing elements in the post-synaptic density of excitatory synapses and that their expression level is able to influence synapse formation, maturation and ultimately brain plasticity. An imbalance in Shank3 protein levels has been associated with a variety of neuropsychological and neurodegenerative disorders including autism spectrum disorders and Phelan–McDermid syndrome. Given that sleep disorders and low melatonin levels are frequently observed in autism spectrum disorders, and that circadian rhythms may be able to modulate Shank3 signaling and thereby synaptic function, here, we performed in vivo studies on CBA mice using protein biochemistry to investigate the synaptic expression levels of Shank3α during the day in different brain regions. Our results show that synaptic Shank3 protein concentrations exhibit minor oscillations during the day in hippocampal and striatal brain regions that correlate with changes in serum melatonin levels. Furthermore, as circadian rhythms are tightly connected to activity levels in mice, we increased physical activity using running wheels. The expression of Shank3α increases rapidly by induced activity in thalamus and cortex, but decreases in striatum, superimposing the circadian rhythms of different brain regions. We conclude that synaptic Shank3 proteins build highly dynamic platforms that are modulated by the light:dark cycles but even more so driven by activity. (Figure presented.) Using wild-type CBA mice, we show that Shank3 is a highly dynamic and activity-regulated protein at synapses. In the hippocampus, changes in synaptic Shank3 levels are influenced by circadian rhythm/melatonin concentration, while running activity increases and decreases levels of Shank3 in the cortex and striatum respectively.


2016 - Heterosynaptic GABAergic plasticity bidirectionally driven by the activity of pre- and postsynaptic NMDA receptors [Articolo su rivista]
Mapelli, Jonathan; Gandolfi, Daniela; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Bigiani, Albertino
abstract

Dynamic changes of the strength of inhibitory synapses play a crucial role in processing neural information and in balancing network activity. Here, we report that the efficacy of GABAergic connections between Golgi cells and granule cells in the cerebellum is persistently altered by the activity of glutamatergic synapses. This form of plasticity is heterosynaptic and is expressed as an increase (long-term potentiation, LTPGABA) or a decrease (long-term depression, LTDGABA) of neurotransmitter release. LTPGABA is induced by postsynaptic NMDA receptor activation, leading to calcium increase and retrograde diffusion of nitric oxide, whereas LTDGABA depends on presynaptic NMDA receptor opening. The sign of plasticity is determined by the activation state of target granule and Golgi cells during the induction processes. By controlling the timing of spikes emitted by granule cells, this form of bidirectional plasticity provides a dynamic control of the granular layer encoding capacity.


2015 - Alterations in microglial phenotype and hippocampal neuronal function in transgenic mice with astrocyte-targeted production of interleukin-10 [Articolo su rivista]
Almolda, Beatriz; de Labra, Carmen; Barrera, Iliana; Gruart, Agnès; Delgado-Garcia, Jose M.; Villacampa, Nàdia; Vilella, Antonietta; Hofer, Markus J.; Hidalgo, Juan; Campbell, Iain L.; González, Berta; Castellano, Bernardo
abstract

Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a cytokine classically linked with anti-inflammatory and protective functions in the central nervous system (CNS) in different neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory conditions. In order to study the specific role of local CNS produced IL-10, we have created a new transgenic mouse line with astrocyte-targeted production of IL-10 (GFAP-IL10Tg). In the present study, the effects of local CNS IL-10 production on microglia, astrocytes and neuronal connectivity under basal conditions were investigated using immunohistochemistry, molecular biology techniques, electrophysiology and behavioural studies. Our results showed that, in GFAP-IL10Tg animals, microglia displayed an increase in density and a specific activated phenotype characterised by morphological changes in specific areas of the brain including the hippocampus, cortex and cerebellum that correlated with the level of transgene expressed IL-10 mRNA. Distinctively, in the hippocampus, microglial cells adopted an elongated morphology following the same direction as the dendrites of pyramidal neurons. Moreover, this IL-10-induced microglial phenotype showed increased expression of certain molecules including Iba1, CD11b, CD16/32 and F4/80 markers, "de novo" expression of CD150 and no detectable levels of either CD206 or MHCII. To evaluate whether this specific activated microglial phenotype was associated with changes in neuronal activity, the electrophysiological properties of pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus (CA3-CA1) were analysed in vivo. We found a lower excitability of the CA3-CA1 synapses and absence of long-term potentiation (LTP) in GFAP-IL10Tg mice. This study is the first description of a transgenic mouse with astrocyte-targeted production of the cytokine IL-10. The findings indicate that IL-10 induces a specific activated microglial phenotype concomitant with changes in hippocampal LTP responses. This transgenic animal will be a very useful tool to study IL-10 functions in the CNS, not only under basal conditions, but also after different experimental lesions or induced diseases.


2015 - Application of Polymeric Nanoparticles for CNS Targeted Zinc Delivery In Vivo [Articolo su rivista]
Chhabra, Resham; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Mangus, Katharina; Pfaender, Stefanie; Sarowar, Tasnuva; Boeckers, Tobias Maria; Zoli, Michele; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Tosi, Giovanni; Grabrucker, Andreas Martin
abstract

A dyshomeostasis of zinc ions has been reported for many psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders including schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, alterations in zinc-levels have been associated with seizures and traumatic brain injury. Thus, altering zinclevels within the brain is emerging as a new target for the prevention and treatment of psychiatric and neurological diseases. However, given the restriction of zinc uptake into the brain by the blood-brain barrier, methods for controlled regulation and manipulation of zinc concentrations within the brain are rare. Here, we performed in vivo studies investigating the possibility of brain targeted zinc delivery using zinc-loaded nanoparticles which are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. After injecting these nanoparticles, we analyzed the regional and time-dependent distribution of zinc and nanoparticles within the brain. Moreover, we evaluated whether the presence of zinc-loaded nanoparticles alters the expression of zinc sensitive genes and proteins such as metallothioneins and zinc transporters and quantified possible toxic effects. Our results show that zinc loaded g7 nanoparticles offer a promising approach as a novel non - invasive method to selectively enrich zinc in the brain within a small amount of time.


2015 - Astrocyte-targeted production of IL-10 induces changes in microglial reactivity and reduces motor neuron death after facial nerve axotomy [Articolo su rivista]
Villacampa, Nàdia; Almolda, Beatriz; Vilella, Antonietta; Campbell, Iain L.; González, Berta; Castellano, Bernardo
abstract

Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a cytokine that plays a crucial role in regulating the inflammatory response and immune reactions. In the central nervous system (CNS), IL-10 is mainly produced by astrocytes and microglia and it is upregulated after various insults, such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, middle cerebral artery occlusion, excitotoxicity and traumatic brain injury. To better understand the effects of IL-10 in the normal and injured CNS, we generated transgenic mice (termed GFAP-IL-10Tg) that expressed the murine IL-10 gene under the transcriptional control of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter. Previous studies demonstrated marked changes in the microglial phenotype in these mice under basal conditions. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of local astrocyte-targeted IL-10 production on glial activation, neuronal degeneration and leukocyte recruitment after axotomy. GFAP-IL-10Tg mice had marked changes in the phenotype of activated microglial cells, as well as in the number of microglial clusters and in microglial cell density. These microglial changes are accompanied by a twofold increase in lymphocyte infiltration in GFAP-IL-10Tg mice and around twofold decrease in neuronal cell death at 21 dpi. Altogether, our findings suggested that astrocyte-targeted production of IL-10 impacted the microglial response and lymphocyte recruitment and culminated in a beneficial effect on neuronal survival. GLIA 2015;63:1166-1184 Main Points: Astrocyte targeted production of IL-10 leads to changes in the pattern of glial activation, increases lymphocyte recruitment and increases neuronal survival after facial nerve axotomy. Local production of IL-10 in the CNS contributes to neuroprotection following nerve injury.


2015 - Endocytosis of Nanomedicines: The Case of Glycopeptide Engineered PLGA Nanoparticles [Articolo su rivista]
Vilella, Antonietta; Ruozi, Barbara; Belletti, Daniela; Pederzoli, Francesca; Galliani, Marianna; Semeghini, Valentina; Forni, Flavio; Zoli, Michele; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Tosi, Giovanni
abstract

The success of nanomedicine as a new strategy for drug delivery and targeting prompted the interest in developing approaches toward basic and clinical neuroscience. Despite enormous advances on brain research, central nervous system (CNS) disorders remain the world's leading cause of disability, in part due to the inability of the majority of drugs to reach the brain parenchyma. Many attempts to use nanomedicines as CNS drug delivery systems (DDS) were made; among the various non-invasive approaches, nanoparticulate carriers and, particularly, polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) seem to be the most interesting strategies. In particular, the ability of poly-lactide-co-glycolide NPs (PLGA-NPs) specifically engineered with a glycopeptide (g7), conferring to NPs' ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) in rodents at a concentration of up to 10% of the injected dose, was demonstrated in previous studies using different routes of administrations. Most of the evidence on NP uptake mechanisms reported in the literature about intracellular pathways and processes of cell entry is based on in vitro studies. Therefore, beside the particular attention devoted to increasing the knowledge of the rate of in vivo BBB crossing of nanocarriers, the subsequent exocytosis in the brain compartments, their fate and trafficking in the brain surely represent major topics in this field.


2015 - Exploiting Bacterial Pathways for BBB Crossing with PLGA Nanoparticles Modified with a Mutated Form of Diphtheria Toxin (CRM197): In Vivo Experiments [Articolo su rivista]
Tosi, Giovanni; Vilella, Antonietta; Veratti, P; Belletti, Daniela; Pederzoli, F; Ruozi, Barbara; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Zoli, Michele; Forni, Flavio
abstract

Drugs can be targeted to the brain using polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) engineered on their surface with ligands able to allow crossing of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This article aims to investigate the BBB crossing efficiency of polymeric poly lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a mutated form of diphtheria toxin (CRM197) in comparison with the results previously obtained using PLGA NPs modified with a glycopeptide (g7-NPs). Different kinds of NPs, covalently coupled PLGA with different fluorescent probes (DY405, rhodamine-B base and DY675) and different ligands (g7 and CRM197) were tested in vivo to assess their behavior and trafficking. The results highlighted the possibility to distinguish the different kinds of simultaneously administered NPs and to emphasize that CRM-197 modified NPs and g7-NPs can cross the BBB at a similar extent. The analysis of BBB crossing and of the neuronal tropism of CRM197 modified NPs, along with their BBB crossing pathways were also developed. In vivo pharmacological studies performed on CRM197 engineered NPs, loaded with loperamide, underlined their ability as drug carriers to the CNS.


2015 - Nanomedicine in neurodegenerative disorders: Understanding the journey [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, G.; Ruozi, B.; Vilella, A.; Grabrucker, A. M.; Belletti, D.; Vandelli, M. A.; Boeckers, T. M.; Forni, F.; Zoli, M.; Sharma, A.; Muresanu, D. F.; Sharma, H. S.
abstract

Nanocarriers can be useful tools for delivering drugs to the central nervous system (CNS). Their distribution within the brain and their interaction with CNS cells must be assessed accurately before they can be proposed for therapeutic use. We investigated these issues by employing poly-lactide-co- glycolide nanoparticles (NPs) specifically engineered with a glycopeptide (g7) conferring to NPs the ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) at a concentration of up to 10% of the injected dose. g7- NPs display increased in vitro uptake in neurons and glial cells, in vivo administration of g7-NPs leads to a region- And cell type-specific enrichment of NPs within the brain. Moreover, g7-NPs are endocytosed in a clathrin-dependent manner and transported into a specific subset of early endosomes positive for Rab5 in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, in order to understand the journey of NPs, we demonstrated that g7-NPs can be transported intra- And intercellularly inside vesicles. Cell-to-cell transport is mediated by tunneling-nanotube (TNT)-like structures in cell lines and most interestingly in glial as well as neuronal cells in vitro. These in vitro findings were in part confirmed by in vivo evidence after i.p. administration in mice. We also tested Ab-modified g7-NPs both in vitro and in vivo to investigate the possibility of a specific targeting.


2015 - PEG-g-chitosan nanoparticles functionalized with the monoclonal antibody OX26 for brain drug targeting [Articolo su rivista]
Monsalve, Yuliana; Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Belletti, Daniela; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio; López, Betty L.; Sierra, Ligia
abstract

Aim: Drug targeting to the CNS is challenging due to the presence of blood-brain barrier. We investigated chitosan (Cs) nanoparticles (NPs) as drug transporter system across the blood-brain barrier, based on mAb OX26 modified Cs. Materials & methods: Cs NPs functionalized with PEG, modified and unmodified with OX26 (Cs-PEG-OX26) were prepared and chemico-physically characterized. These NPs were administered (intraperitoneal) in mice to define their ability to reach the brain. Results: Brain uptake of OX26-conjugated NPs is much higher than of unmodified NPs, because: long-circulating abilities (conferred by PEG), interaction between cationic Cs and brain endothelium negative charges and OX26 TfR receptor affinity. Conclusion: Cs-PEG-OX26 NPs are promising drug delivery system to the CNS.


2014 - Insight on the fate of CNS-targeted nanoparticles. Part I: Rab5-dependent cell-specific uptake and distribution [Articolo su rivista]
Vilella, Antonietta; Tosi, Giovanni; Andreas M., Grabrucker; Ruozi, Barbara; Belletti, Daniela; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Tobias M., Boeckers; Forni, Flavio; Zoli, Michele
abstract

Nanocarriers can be useful tools for delivering drugs to the central nervous system (CNS). Their distribution within the brain and their interaction with CNS cells must be assessed accurately before they can be proposed for therapeutic use. In this paper, we investigated these issues by employing poly-lactide-co-glycolide nanoparticles (NPs) specifically engineered with a glycopeptide (g7) conferring to NPs the ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) at a concentration of up to 10% of the injected dose. g7-NPs display increased in vitro uptake in neurons and glial cells. Our results show that in vivo administration of g7-NPs leads to a region- and cell type-specific enrichment of NPs within the brain. We provide evidence that g7-NPs are endocytosed in a clathrin-dependent manner and transported into a specific subset of early endosomes positive for Rab5 in vitro and in vivo. The differential Rab5 expression level is strictly correlated with the amount of g7-NP accumulation. These findings show that g7-NPs can cross the BBB and target specific brain cell populations, suggesting that these NPs can be promising carriers for the treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.


2014 - Insight on the fate of CNS-targeted nanoparticles. Part II: Intercellular neuronal cell-to-cell transport [Articolo su rivista]
Tosi, Giovanni; Vilella, Antonietta; Resham, Chhabra; Michael J., Schmeisser; Tobias M., Boeckers; Ruozi, Barbara; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio; Zoli, Michele; Andreas M., Grabrucker
abstract

The application of polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) has a promising future for targeting and delivering drugs into the central nervous system (CNS). However, the fate of NPs once entered in the brain after crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and taken up into neuronal cells is a neglected area of study. Thus, here, we investigate the possible mechanisms of a cell-to-cell transport of poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a glycopeptide (g7-NPs), already demonstrated to be able to cross the BBB after in vivo administration in rodents. We also tested antibody (Ab) -modified g7-NPs both in vitro and in vivo to investigate the possibility of a specific targeting. Our results show that g7-NPs can be transported intra- and intercellularly inside vesicles. Moreover, cell-to-cell transport is mediated by tunneling-nanotube (TNT)-like structures in cell lines and most interestingly in glial as well as neuronal cells in vitro. The transport is dependent on F-actin and can be increased by induction of TNT-like structures overexpressing M-Sec, a central factor and inducer of TNT formation. Moreover, cell-to-cell transport occurs independently from NP surface modification with antibodies. These in vitro findings were in part confirmed by in vivo evidence after i.p. administration in mice.


2013 - Brain-targeted polymeric nanoparticles: in vivo evidences after different routes of administration in rodents. [Articolo su rivista]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Belletti, Daniela; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio
abstract

The capacity of polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) to reach the target regardless to the administration route is a neglected field of investigation in the pharmaceutical nanotechnology. Therefore, after having demonstrated in previous studies that glycopeptide-engineered NPs (g7-NPs) were able to reach the brain after intravenous administrations in rodents, this paper aimed to evaluate if they can reach the Central Nervous System (CNS) also when administered by different routes. The confocal microphotographs on murine brain sections showed the capability of g7-NPs to reach the target also after intraperitoneal, intranasal and oral administrations. These highlights could open new vistas to a future application of the g7-NPs in the therapeutic treatments of CNS diseases.


2013 - Nanomedicine in Neuroscience: the potential of targeted nanoparticles in crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Veratti, Patrizia; Baraldi, Elisa; Zoli, Michele; A., Grabrucker; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

Non-invasive strategies for treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases based on colloidal carriers represent a huge potential to efficiently transport drug across the BBB, since nanocarriers can protect drugs (or gene material) and deliver them to target specific populations of brain cells. The efficacy of the nanotechnological approach for brain targeting has been proved by several papers and widely reviewed. Literature contributions mainly deal with several kind of nanometric carriers such as polymeric nanoparticles (NPs), liposomes, solid-lipid NPs, micelles, nanogels and dendrimers. However, these nanocarriers, target and reach the brain poorly, if not engineered in their surface to take advantage of BBB transport mechanisms. Recent studies demonstrated the efficacy of the medicinal chemistry approach, based on the modification of the physico-chemical properties of drugs and the biological approach, based on the conjugation of molecules with antibodies or ligands targeting the BBB. In this contest, polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) and liposomes (LPs) were formulated and specifically engineered to cross the BBB and arrive to CNS and proposed to encapsulate an deliver cholesterol an BDNF to the CNS. Our attention point on the use of polymeric nanoparticles engineered on surface by a selective ligand able to promote the NPs crossing of BBB. In fact, preliminary studies demonstrated the ability of new targeted polymeric poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a short peptide (H2N-Gly-L-Phe-D-Thr-Gly-L-Phe-L-Leu-L-Ser(O-β-D-Glucose)-CONH2 (g7-NPs) to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing delivering of active. In particular, several in vivo biodistribution studies and pharmacological proof-of-evidence of brain delivery of model drugs (not able by themselves to reach the brain, as Rhodamine-123 and Loperamide) demonstrated the ability of g7-NPs to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing. A total biodistibution of g7-NPs, obtained after i.v. administration in rats, evidenced a strong and significant localization of the g7-NPs into CNS in a quantity about two orders of magnitude greater (10-15%) than that found with the other known NP drug carriers. More recently, the g7-NP BBB crossing mechanism was investigated, pointing out an interaction between g7-NPs and BBB and endocytosis/macropinocytosis pathways for BBB crossing. Same results were pointed out also in vitro on neurons/glia cell coltures, evidencing the endocytotic pathways as g7-NPs cell entrance as well as the assessing of the safety of g7-NPs not creating any damage to cells even at high doses.


2013 - Nanotechnology and Central Nervous System Drug Delivery [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Veratti, Patrizia; Baraldi, Elisa; Zoli, Michele; A., Grabrucker; A., Sharma; H. S., Sharma; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

In line with the overall increase in knowledge and nanotechnologies, surface engineering of nano-sized carriers is now representing the cutting edge of nanomedicine, leading to the production of selectively targeted therapies based on targeted nanocarriers. In fact, achieving nanocarriers able to be stable in the blood-stream, to protect the drug from metabolism and to promote a long-lasting release of the drug is still a pivotal pre-requisite for nanomedicine, but it is now to be considered as “not enough”. Active targeting to specific pathological cells is now the challenge of pharmaceutical nanotechnologists, who are facing with difficulties in colloidal chemistry and most of all in the characterization of the engineered nanocarriers from a technological and physiological points of view. As an example, the application of nanotechnology to brain-related disorders, called nanoneuromedicine, is surely representing one of the most stimulating challenge as well as one the most difficult due to the presence of biological barriers (BBB) and the great variability in BBB permeability depending on the chosen disease. Encouraging results have been obtained demonstrating the possibility of targeting the CNS up to an important percentage of brain localization. In this contest, polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) and liposomes (LPs) were formulated and specifically engineered to cross the BBB and arrive to CNS and proposed to encapsulate some drugs able to rescue from neurodegeneration, to the CNS. Our attention point on the use of polymeric nanoparticles engineered on surface by a selective ligand able to promote the NPs crossing of BBB. In fact, preliminary studies demonstrated the ability of new targeted polymeric poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a short peptide (H2N-Gly-L-Phe-D-Thr-Gly-L-Phe-L-Leu-L-Ser(O-β-D-Glucose)-CONH2 (g7-NPs) to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing delivering of active. In particular, several in vivo biodistribution studies and pharmacological proof-of-evidence of brain delivery of model drugs (not able by themselves to reach the brain) demonstrated the ability of g7-NPs to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing. A total biodistibution of g7-NPs, obtained after i.v. administration in rats, evidenced a strong and significant localization of the g7-NPs into CNS in a quantity about two orders of magnitude greater (10-15%) than that found with the other known NP drug carriers. More recently, the g7-NP BBB crossing mechanism was investigated, pointing out an interaction between g7-NPs and BBB and endocytosis/macropinocytosis pathways for BBB crossing. Same results were pointed out also in vitro on neurons/glia cell coltures, evidencing the endocytotic pathways as g7-NPs cell entrance as well as the assessing of the safety of g7-NPs not creating any damage to cells even at high doses. Notwithstanding these outputs, it is our opinion that in order to obtain a real update of neurological disorders’ therapy based on innovative and non invasive protocols (i.e. nanomedicine), a team work is strongly needed. The interdisciplinar competences and skills of all the experts in Neuro-diseases and Nano-Technology (from neurobiologists to neurophysiologist, from nanotechnologists to physicians) must be shared, discussed, considered and applied, thus opening the pave to new vistas in treatments and most of all for the correct development of the research.


2013 - Rab5-dependent cell-specific uptake and distribution of engineered nanoparticles for CNS targeted drug delivery in vivo [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
Vilella, Antonietta; Tosi, Giovanni; Grabrucker, A. M.; Ruozi, Barbara; Belletti, Daniela; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Boeckers, T. M.; Forni, Flavio; Zoli, Michele
abstract

Employment of brain-targeted nanocarriers as tools for drug delivery to the central nervous system (CNS) represents a pivotal step forward in the development of innovative therapeutic strategies. If nanocarriers are to be translated into the clinic, their distribution within the brain and interaction with CNS cells must be assessed accurately. Here, we investigated these issues by employing polylactide-co-glycolide nanoparticles (NPs) specifically engineered with g7, a glycopeptide conferring the ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) at a concentration of up to 10% of the injected dose. g7-NPs display increased in vitro uptake in neurons and glia. Our results show that in vivo administration of g7-NPs leads to a region- and cell type-specific enrichment of NPs within the brain that is not dependent on the presence of the BBB. We provide evidence that g7-NPs are endocytosed in a clathrin-dependent manner and transported into a specific subset of early endosomes positive for Rab5 in vitro and in vivo. The differential Rab5 expression level is strictly correlated with the amount of g7-NP accumulation. These findings show that g7-NPs can cross the BBB and target specific brain cell populations, suggesting that these NPs are promising drug carriers for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases.


2012 - NANOMEDICINE IN NEUROSCIENCE: THE POTENTIAL OF TARGETED NANOPARTICLES IN NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Veratti, Patrizia; Baraldi, Elisa; Zoli, Michele; M., Schmeisser; A., Grabrucker; H. S., Sharma; A., Sharma; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

Pathologic conditions affecting the brain such as neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders (i.e. Parnkison’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, etc.) are amongst the most un-treatable syndromes. A major obstacle for the application of therapeutics is that a great number of pharmacologically active molecules (estimated 98%) are not able to reach the Central Nervous System (CNS) and to exert their activity as they cannot cross the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB). Thus, one of the challenges of pharmaceutical research nowadays is to discover tools enabling an effective and efficacious delivery of drugs into the CNS. Non-invasive techniques based on colloidal carriers (nanomedicine) could represent a huge potential and, in line with the overall increase in knowledge and nanotechnologies, surface engineering of nano-sized carriers is now representing the cutting edge of nanomedicine, leading to the production of selectively targeted therapies based on targeted nanocarriers. In fact, achieving nanocarriers able to be stable in the blood-stream, to protect the drug from metabolism and to promote a long-lasting release of the drug, is still a pivotal pre-requisite for nanomedicine, but it is now to be considered as “not enough”. Active targeting to specific pathological cells is now the challenge of pharmaceutical nanotechnologists, who are facing with difficulties in colloidal chemistry and most of all in the characterization of the engineered nanocarriers from a technological and physiological points of view. As an example, the application of nanotechnology to brain-related disorders, called nanoneuromedicine, is certainly representing one of the most stimulating as well as one of the most difficult challenges, due to the presence of biological barriers (BBB) and the great variability in BBB permeability depending on the chosen disease. Nevertheless, encouraging results have been obtained demonstrating the possibility of targeting the CNS up to reaching a significant percentage in brain localization of nanocarriers. As an example of targeted NPs, new targeted polymeric poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with glycopeptides (g7-NPs) have been recently demonstrated, by in vivo and in vitro experiments, to be able to trigger brain delivery of active substances (brain accumulation up to 10-15% of the injected dose). Moreover, BBB crossing of g7-NPs was recently assessed by our team, evidencing endocytosis/macropinocytosis pathways as preferential mechanisms for g7-NPs movements and interactions. With this work, we will also show new developments and insights of our research with highlights mainly on g7-NPs in vitro behavior on neurons/glia as well as in vivo (rodents) brain localization and trafficking after different routes of administration. Notwithstanding these results, it is our opinion that in order to obtain a real progress in neurological disorders’ therapy based on innovative and non invasive protocols (i.e. nanomedicine), a team effort is highly desired. The interdisciplinary competences and skills of all the experts in Neuro-diseases and Nano-Technology (from neurobiologists to neurophysiologists, from nanotechnologists to physicians) must be shared, discussed, considered and applied, thus paving the way to new vistas in treatments and most of all for the correct development of this field of research.


2012 - Nanomedicine in Neuroscience: The potential of targeted nanoparticles in neurodegenerative disorders [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Veratti, Patrizia; Baraldi, Elisa; Zoli, Michele; M., Schmeisser; A., Grabrucker; H. S., Sharma; A., Sharma; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

Non-invasive strategies for treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases based on colloidal carriers represent a huge potential to efficiently transport drug across the BBB, since nanocarriers can protect drugs (or gene material) and deliver them to target specific populations of brain cells. The efficacy of the nanotechnological approach for brain targeting has been proved by several papers and widely reviewed. Literature contributions mainly deal with several kind of nanometric carriers such as polymeric nanoparticles (NPs), liposomes, solid-lipid NPs, micelles, nanogels and dendrimers. However, these nanocarriers, target and reach the brain poorly, if not engineered in their surface to take advantage of BBB transport mechanisms. Recent studies demonstrated the efficacy of the medicinal chemistry approach, based on the modification of the physico-chemical properties of drugs and the biological approach, based on the conjugation of molecules with antibodies or ligands targeting the BBB. In this contest, polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) and liposomes (LPs) were formulated and specifically engineered to cross the BBB and arrive to CNS and proposed to encapsulate an deliver cholesterol an BDNF to the CNS. Our attention point on the use of polymeric nanoparticles engineered on surface by a selective ligand able to promote the NPs crossing of BBB. In fact, preliminary studies demonstrated the ability of new targeted polymeric poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a short peptide (H2N-Gly-L-Phe-D-Thr-Gly-L-Phe-L-Leu-L-Ser(O-β-D-Glucose)-CONH2 (g7-NPs) to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing delivering of active. In particular, several in vivo biodistribution studies and pharmacological proof-of-evidence of brain delivery of model drugs (not able by themselves to reach the brain, as Rhodamine-123 and Loperamide) demonstrated the ability of g7-NPs to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing. A total biodistibution of g7-NPs, obtained after i.v. administration in rats, evidenced a strong and significant localization of the g7-NPs into CNS in a quantity about two orders of magnitude greater (10-15%) than that found with the other known NP drug carriers. More recently, the g7-NP BBB crossing mechanism was investigated, pointing out an interaction between g7-NPs and BBB and endocytosis/macropinocytosis pathways for BBB crossing. Same results were pointed out also in vitro on neurons/glia cell coltures, evidencing the endocytotic pathways as g7-NPs cell entrance as well as the assessing of the safety of g7-NPs not creating any damage to cells even at high doses.


2012 - Nano-Neuroscience: Targeted nanoparticles For CNS drug delivery [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Ruozi, Barbara; Vilella, Antonietta; Belletti, Daniela; Veratti, Patrizia; Baraldi, Elisa; Zoli, Michele; M., Schmeisser; A., Grabrucker; Forni, Flavio; Vandelli, Maria Angela; A., Sharma; H. S., Sharma
abstract

Non-invasive strategies for treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases based on colloidal carriers represent a huge potential to efficiently transport drug across the BBB, since nanocarriers can protect drugs (or gene material) and deliver them to target specific populations of brain cells. The efficacy of the nanotechnological approach for brain targeting has been proved by several papers and widely reviewed. Literature contributions mainly deal with several kind of nanometric carriers such as polymeric nanoparticles (NPs), liposomes, solid-lipid NPs, micelles, nanogels and dendrimers. However, these nanocarriers, target and reach the brain poorly, if not engineered in their surface to take advantage of BBB transport mechanisms. Recent studies demonstrated the efficacy of the medicinal chemistry approach, based on the modification of the physico-chemical properties of drugs and the biological approach, based on the conjugation of molecules with antibodies or ligands targeting the BBB. In this contest, polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) and liposomes (LPs) were formulated and specifically engineered to cross the BBB and arrive to CNS and proposed to encapsulate an deliver cholesterol an BDNF to the CNS. Our attention point on the use of polymeric nanoparticles engineered on surface by a selective ligand able to promote the NPs crossing of BBB. In fact, preliminary studies demonstrated the ability of new targeted polymeric poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) NPs modified with a short peptide (H2N-Gly-L-Phe-D-Thr-Gly-L-Phe-L-Leu-L-Ser(O-β-D-Glucose)-CONH2 (g7-NPs) to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing delivering of active. In particular, several in vivo biodistribution studies and pharmacological proof-of-evidence of brain delivery of model drugs (not able by themselves to reach the brain, as Rhodamine-123 and Loperamide) demonstrated the ability of g7-NPs to create BBB interaction and trigger an efficacious BBB crossing. A total biodistibution of g7-NPs, obtained after i.v. administration in rats, evidenced a strong and significant localization of the g7-NPs into CNS in a quantity about two orders of magnitude greater (10-15%) than that found with the other known NP drug carriers. More recently, the g7-NP BBB crossing mechanism was investigated, pointing out an interaction between g7-NPs and BBB and endocytosis/macropinocytosis pathways for BBB crossing. Same results were pointed out also in vitro on neurons/glia cell coltures, evidencing the endocytotic pathways as g7-NPs cell entrance as well as the assessing of the safety of g7-NPs not creating any damage to cells even at high doses.


2011 - Brain targeting by engineered nanoparticles [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; A., Grabrucker; L., Bondioli; Ruozi, Barbara; Zoli, Michele; Vilella, Antonietta; Forni, Flavio; Rivasi, Francesco; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

In the last years, the application of "nanotechnology“ to the field of “medicine” surely represented the most innovative strategy to cope with difficult-to-treat diseases. Thus, nanotech-based drug delivery and targeting are nowadays some of the hottest topics in science and in particular in Neuroscience. The results of our research, based on in vitro and in vivo preclinical tests strongly indicate that specifically engineered nanoparticles, made of poly-lactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) polymer, are able to cross the Blood-brain barrier (BBB) and to deliver a variety of drugs or active molecules inside the Central Nervous System (CNS). A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that neurological disorders (brain injuries, neuroinfections, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke, Alzheimer and Parkinson disease) affect up to one billion people worldwide [World Health Organization, Neurological disorders : public health challenger, Geneva, 2006]. Until now, only 2% of the overall drugs are able to enter the brain as the BBB restricts the diffusion of substances from blood to the brain. Thus, one of the challenges of pharmaceutical research nowadays is to discover tools enabling an effective and efficacious delivery of drugs into the CNS. To improve the efficacy of drugs, a possible answer could be the nanomedicine approach, and its application on neuroscience (neuro-nanomedicine). Thereby, the perspective of introducing a tool, capable of directed delivery of every drug into the brain, is undoubtedly an attractive goal for researchers and practitioners. To that end, neuro -nanomedicine exploits pharmaceutical technology, using well-known nanocarriers such as liposomes and polymeric nanoparticles (NPs). These nanosystems, ranging from 100 nm to 250 nm, are able to protect loaded drugs from being metabolised and eliminated, to assure the controlled release of the embedded drugs and to target specific cell population if specifically engineered.To achieve this goal we planned, create and test specifically engineering the NPs surface able to take advantage of the BBB crossing pathways, such as endocytosis or transcytosis. We applied this approach modifying FDA-approved biodegradable NPs with two different peptides to produce highly selective nanosystems able to enter the brain after i.v. administration in the rodents model. The administration of engineered-NPs allowed a variety of drugs to cross the BBB at a rate of 15-20% of the injected dose. The mechanism of BBB crossing of those NPs were elucidated by means of several in vitro and in vivo experiments as the safety of NPs on neuron cell colture was proven. The potential impact of such nanotech-based innovations relies on the possible changes in treatments and cures of the most difficult-to-treat neurological diseases, opening the pave to a new vista on the future trend in medicine, which should strengthen the relationship between different field of research (from clinician-based to chemistry, nanotechnology, biology and pre-clinical study) becoming more and more translational and interdisciplinar.


2011 - Brain targeting by engineered nanoparticles: in vivo and in vitro evidences [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; A., Grabrucker; L., Bondioli; Ruozi, Barbara; Zoli, Michele; Vilella, Antonietta; Forni, Flavio; Rivasi, Francesco; Vandelli, Maria Angela
abstract

In the last years, the application of "nanotechnology“ to the field of “medicine” surely represented the most innovative strategy to cope with diseases and could be named as nanomedicine, which is mostly applied to difficult-to-treat diseases. In this field of research, the most important goal to be reached is an increase in selectivity and specificity of drug-action. Several results with stimulating findings in preclinical or clinical phases have been obtained using nanocarriers delivering agents to targeted pathologies, and among them, it is known that neuro-pathologies represent a stimulating issue. In fact, the pharmaceutical treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders is the second largest area of therapy, following cardiovascular diseases. Nowadays, non-invasive drug delivery systems for CNS are actively studied. The nano-technological approach consists of the use of nanosystems (colloidal carriers), which could be polymer-based (nanoparticles, Np) or solid lipid material made (solid lipid nanoparticles, SLNp) and lipid-based (liposomes, LP). In fact, the development of these new delivery systems started with the discovery that properly surface-engineered colloidal vectors, with a diameter around 200 nm, are able to cross the BBB without causing apparent damage, and to deliver drugs or genetic materials into the brain. During this talk, an overview will be presented considering the most recent literature results of nanomedicine applied to brain diseases, focusing in particular on peptide-decorated nanosystems able to target the CNS.In vitro and in vivo experiments allowed to establish a pathway through which engineered NPs can cross the BBB and showed the possible NPs’ transport from cell to cell inside the CNS and the possible tropism of NPs for specific neuronal cell populations.References• A.M. Grabrucker, C. C. Garner, T.M. Boeckers, L. Bondioli, B. Ruozi, F.Forni, M.A. Vandelli, G.Tosi , Development of novel Zn2+ loaded nanoparticles designed for cell-type targeted drug release in CNS neurons: in vitro evidences. PLOS ONE, 2011, Vol 6, e17851.• G. Tosi, R.A. Fano, L. Badiali, R. Benassi, F. Rivasi, B. Ruozi, F. Forni, M.A., Vandelli. Investigation on the mechanisms for Blood-Brain Barrier crossing of brain-targeted glycopeptides nanoparticles, Nanomedicine UK, 2011, 6(3), 423-436• G. Tosi, AV Vergoni, B. Ruozi, L. Bondioli, L. Badiali, F. Rivasi, L. Costantino, F. Forni, M.A. Vandelli, Sialic-acid and glycopeptides conjugated PLGA nanoparticles for Central Nervous System targeting: in vivo pharmacological evidence and biodistribution, Journal of Controlled Release, 2010,145, 49-57.


2011 - Nanoparticles and the BBB crossing: in vivo and in vitro upcomings [Relazione in Atti di Convegno]
Tosi, Giovanni; Bondioli, Lucia; Ruozi, Barbara; Andreas, Grabrucker; Vilella, Antonietta; Zoli, Michele; Rivasi, Francesco; Vandelli, Maria Angela; Forni, Flavio
abstract

In the last years, the application of "nanotechnology “to the field of “medicine” surely represented the most innovative strategy to cop_20e with diseases and it could be named as nanomedicine applied to difficult-to-treat diseases. As known, in this field of research, the most important goal to be reached is an increase in selectivity and specificity of drug action. Several results with stimulating findings in preclinical or clinical phases have been reached by using nanocarriers, delivering agents to targeted pathologies, and among them, it is known that neuro-pathologies represent a stimulating issue. In fact, the pharmaceutical treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders is the second largest area of therapy, following cardiovascular diseases. Nowadays, non-invasive drug delivery systems for CNS are actively studied. In fact, the development of new delivery systems (nanoparticles and liposomes) started with the discovery that properly surface-engineered colloidal vectors, with a diameter around 200 nm, were shown to be able to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier without apparent damage, and to deliver drugs or genetic materials into the brain. During this talk, an overview will be presented considering the most recent literature results of nanomedicine applied to brain diseases, carried out with all the most popular kinds of nanoparticulate systems, focusing in particular on immune-nanoparticles and peptide-decorated nanosystems able to target the CNS, with in vivo and in vitro evidences investigating the pathway for BBB crossing and CNS localization of engineered nanoparticles. The brain localization and the multi-modal pathways for BBB crossing highlighted the endocytosis as preferential pathway; moveover, in vitro test on hippocampal neurons showed the presence of cell-to-cell transport of nanoparticles.