Michele Papa

Professor of Anatomy

Name Michele
Surname Papa
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
E-Mail michele.papa@unicampania.it
Address II Division of Neurology & Center fo Rare Diseases Department of Medical Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic Sciences, and Aging, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Edificio 10 Via Sergio Pansini, 580131 Naples, Italy


  • Neural plasticity and adult neurogenesis: the deep biology perspective.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2019 on Neural regeneration research
    by Colangelo AM, Cirillo G, Alberghina L, Papa M, Westerhoff HV
    DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.244775

    The recognition that neurogenesis does not stop with adolescence has spun off research towards the reduction of brain disorders by enhancing brain regeneration. Adult neurogenesis is one of the tougher problems of developmental biology as it requires the generation of complex intracellular and pericellular anatomies, amidst the danger of neuroinflammation. We here review how a multitude of regulatory pathways optimized for early neurogenesis has to be revamped into a new choreography of time dependencies. Distinct pathways need to be regulated, ranging from neural growth factor induced differentiation to mitochondrial bioenergetics, reactive oxygen metabolism, and apoptosis. Requiring much Gibbs energy consumption, brain depends on aerobic energy metabolism, hence on mitochondrial activity. Mitochondrial fission and fusion, movement and perhaps even mitoptosis, thereby come into play. All these network processes are interlinked and involve a plethora of molecules. We recommend a deep thinking approach to adult neurobiology.

  • Specific Expression of a New Bruton Tyrosine Kinase Isoform (p65BTK) in the Glioblastoma Gemistocytic Histotype.

    Publication Date: 24/01/2019 on Frontiers in molecular neuroscience
    by Sala L, Cirillo G, Riva G, Romano G, Giussani C, Cialdella A, Todisco A, Virtuoso A, Cerrito MG, Bentivegna A, Grassilli E, Ardizzoia A, Bonoldi E, Giovannoni R, Papa M, Lavitrano M
    DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00002

    Bruton's tyrosine-kinase (BTK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase recently associated with glioma tumorigenesis and a novel prognostic marker for poor survival in patients with glioma. The p65BTK is a novel BTK isoform involved in different pathways of drug resistance of solid tumors, thus we aimed to investigate the expression and the putative role of p65BTK in tumors of the central nervous system (CNS). We selected a large cohort of patients with glial tumors ( = 71) and analyzed the expression of p65BTK in different histotypes and correlation with clinical parameters. Sections were stained with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), p53, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), S100, vimentin, and epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) antibodies. Glioma stem cell (GSC) lines, isolated from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), were treated with different concentrations of ibrutinib, a specific inhibitor of BTK, in order to evaluate their metabolic activity, mitotic index and mortality. Moreover, an orthotopic xenotransplant of GSC from human GBM was used to evaluate the expression of p65BTK in the brain of immunodeficient mice. p65BTK was expressed in GSC and in gemistocytes in human gliomas at different histological grade. We found a significant correlation between BTK expression and low-grade (LG) tumors ( ≤ 0.05) and overall survival (OS) of patients with grade III gliomas ( ≤ 0.05), suggestive of worst prognosis. Interestingly, the expression of p65BTK remained restricted exclusively to gemistocytic cells in the xenograft mouse model. Ibrutinib administration significantly reduced metabolic activity and mitotic index and increased mortality in GSC, highlighting the specific role of p65BTK in cell proliferation and survival. In conclusion, our data demonstrated that p65BTK is expressed in glioma tumors, restricted to gemistocytic cells, has a key role in GSC and has a bad prognostic value, thus highlighting the importance of future research for targeted therapy of human gliomas.

  • Neuro-Immune Hemostasis: Homeostasis and Diseases in the Central Nervous System.

    Publication Date: 26/11/2018 on Frontiers in cellular neuroscience
    by De Luca C, Colangelo AM, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00459

    Coagulation and the immune system interact in several physiological and pathological conditions, including tissue repair, host defense, and homeostatic maintenance. This network plays a key role in diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) by involving several cells (CNS resident cells, platelets, endothelium, and leukocytes) and molecular pathways (protease activity, complement factors, platelet granule content). Endothelial damage prompts platelet activation and the coagulation cascade as the first physiological step to support the rescue of damaged tissues, a flawed rescuing system ultimately producing neuroinflammation. Leukocytes, platelets, and endothelial cells are sensitive to the damage and indeed can release or respond to chemokines and cytokines (platelet factor 4, CXCL4, TNF, interleukins), and growth factors (including platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor) with platelet activation, change in capillary permeability, migration or differentiation of leukocytes. Thrombin, plasmin, activated complement factors and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), furthermore, activate intracellular transduction through complement or protease-activated receptors. Impairment of the neuro-immune hemostasis network induces acute or chronic CNS pathologies related to the neurovascular unit, either directly or by the systemic activation of its main steps. Neurons, glial cells (astrocytes and microglia) and the extracellular matrix play a crucial function in a "tetrapartite" synaptic model. Taking into account the neurovascular unit, in this review we thoroughly analyzed the influence of neuro-immune hemostasis on these five elements acting as a functional unit ("pentapartite" synapse) in the adaptive and maladaptive plasticity and discuss the relevance of these events in inflammatory, cerebrovascular, Alzheimer, neoplastic and psychiatric diseases. Finally, based on the solid reviewed data, we hypothesize a model of neuro-immune hemostatic network based on protein-protein interactions. In addition, we propose that, to better understand and favor the maintenance of adaptive plasticity, it would be useful to construct predictive molecular models, able to enlighten the regulating logic of the complex molecular network, which belongs to different cellular domains. A modeling approach would help to define how nodes of the network interact with basic cellular functions, such as mitochondrial metabolism, autophagy or apoptosis. It is expected that dynamic systems biology models might help to elucidate the fine structure of molecular events generated by blood coagulation and neuro-immune responses in several CNS diseases, thereby opening the way to more effective treatments.

  • Differentiation by nerve growth factor (NGF) involves mechanisms of crosstalk between energy homeostasis and mitochondrial remodeling.

    Publication Date: 09/03/2018 on Cell death & disease
    by Martorana F, Gaglio D, Bianco MR, Aprea F, Virtuoso A, Bonanomi M, Alberghina L, Papa M, Colangelo AM
    DOI: 10.1038/s41419-018-0429-9

    Neuronal differentiation involves extensive modification of biochemical and morphological properties to meet novel functional requirements. Reorganization of the mitochondrial network to match the higher energy demand plays a pivotal role in this process. Mechanisms of neuronal differentiation in response to nerve growth factor (NGF) have been largely characterized in terms of signaling, however, little is known about its impact on mitochondrial remodeling and metabolic function. In this work, we show that NGF-induced differentiation requires the activation of autophagy mediated by Atg9b and Ambra1, as it is disrupted by their genetic knockdown and by autophagy blockers. NGF differentiation involves the induction of P-AMPK and P-CaMK, and is prevented by their pharmacological inhibition. These molecular events correlate with modifications of energy and redox homeostasis, as determined by ATP and NADPH changes, higher oxygen consumption (OCR) and ROS production. Our data indicate that autophagy aims to clear out exhausted mitochondria, as determined by enhanced localization of p62 and Lysotracker-red to mitochondria. In addition, we newly demonstrate that NGF differentiation is accompanied by increased mitochondrial remodeling involving higher levels of fission (P-Drp1) and fusion proteins (Opa1 and Mfn2), as well as induction of Sirt3 and the transcription factors mtTFA and PPARγ, which regulate mitochondria biogenesis and metabolism to sustain increased mitochondrial mass, potential, and bioenergetics. Overall, our data indicate a new NGF-dependent mechanism involving mitophagy and extensive mitochondrial remodeling, which plays a key role in both neurogenesis and nerve regeneration.

  • Neuro-Coagulopathy: Blood Coagulation Factors in Central Nervous System Diseases.

    Publication Date: 12/10/2017 on International journal of molecular sciences
    by De Luca C, Virtuoso A, Maggio N, Papa M
    DOI: 10.3390/ijms18102128

    Blood coagulation factors and other proteins, with modulatory effects or modulated by the coagulation cascade have been reported to affect the pathophysiology of the central nervous system (CNS). The protease-activated receptors (PARs) pathway can be considered the central hub of this regulatory network, mainly through thrombin or activated protein C (aPC). These proteins, in fact, showed peculiar properties, being able to interfere with synaptic homeostasis other than coagulation itself. These specific functions modulate neuronal networks, acting both on resident (neurons, astrocytes, and microglia) as well as circulating immune system cells and the extracellular matrix. The pleiotropy of these effects is produced through different receptors, expressed in various cell types, in a dose- and time-dependent pattern. We reviewed how these pathways may be involved in neurodegenerative diseases (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases), multiple sclerosis, ischemic stroke and post-ischemic epilepsy, CNS cancer, addiction, and mental health. These data open up a new path for the potential therapeutic use of the agonist/antagonist of these proteins in the management of several central nervous system diseases.

  • Matrix Metalloproteinases, Neural Extracellular Matrix, and Central Nervous System Pathology.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2017 on Progress in molecular biology and translational science
    by De Luca C, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2017.04.002

    The functionality and stability of the central nervous system (CNS) pabulum, called neural extracellular matrix (nECM), is paramount for the maintenance of a healthy network. The loosening or the damage of the scaffold disrupts synaptic transmission with the consequent imbalance of the neurotransmitters, reactive cells invasion, astrocytosis, new matrix deposition, digestion of the previous structure and ultimately, maladaptive plasticity with the loss of neuronal viability. nECM is constantly affected by CNS disorders, particularly in chronic modifying such as neurodegenerative disease, or in acute/subacute with chronic sequelae, like cerebrovascular and inflammatory pathology. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are the main interfering agent of nECM, guiding the balance of degradation and new deposition of proteins such as proteoglycans and glycoproteins, or glycosaminoglycans, such as hyaluronic acid. Activation of these enzymes is modulated by their physiologic inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of MMPs or via other proteases inhibitors, as well as genetic or epigenetic up- or downregulation through molecular interaction or receptor activation. The appropriate understanding of the pathways underlying nECM modifications in CNS pathology is probably one of the pivotal future directions to identify the healthy brain network and subsequently design new therapies to interfere with the progression of the CNS disease and eventually find appropriate therapies.

  • Beyond peripheral nerve injury: spinal gliopathy and maladaptive synaptic plasticity.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2016 on Neural regeneration research
    by Cirillo G, Papa M
    DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.191214
  • Looking Inside the Matrix: Perineuronal Nets in Plasticity, Maladaptive Plasticity and Neurological Disorders.

    Publication Date: 01/07/2016 on Neurochemical research
    by De Luca C, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1007/s11064-016-1876-2

    The integrity of the central nervous system (CNS) matrix is crucial for its proper function. Loss of the lattice-like structure compromise synaptic stability and can lead to the disruption of the excitatory/inhibitory balance, astrocytosis, maladaptive plasticity and neuronal death. Perineuronal nets (PNNs) in the extracellular matrix (ECM) provide synaptic integration and control the functional wiring between neurons. These nets are significantly modified during CNS disorders, such as neurodegenerative, cerebrovascular and inflammatory diseases. The breakdown or the modification of PNNs could be due to the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) or to the deposition of proteoglycans, glycoproteins, and hyaluronic acid. The expression and the activity of ECM-degrading enzymes can be regulated with tissue inhibitors of MMPs or via transcriptional and epigenetic silencing or enhancement (i.e. via histone deacetylases). The identification of molecules and mechanisms able to modify these processes will be essential for a new perspective on brain functioning in health and disease, leading to a target-directed approach with drugs directly interfering with the molecular mechanism underlying neurological disorders.

  • The TGF-β pathway is activated by 5-fluorouracil treatment in drug resistant colorectal carcinoma cells.

    Publication Date: 19/04/2016 on Oncotarget
    by Romano G, Santi L, Bianco MR, Giuffrè MR, Pettinato M, Bugarin C, Garanzini C, Savarese L, Leoni S, Cerrito MG, Leone BE, Gaipa G, Grassilli E, Papa M, Lavitrano M, Giovannoni R
    DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.7895

    TGF-β pathway is generally associated with the processes of metastasis, angiogenesis and EMT in cancer. Very little is known, however, about the role of TGF-β in cancer drug resistance. In this work, we show a specific activation of the TGF-β pathway in consequence of chemotherapeutic treatment in in vivo and in vitro models of colorectal carcinoma. 5-Fluorouracil (5FU) was able to stimulate the activation of SMAD3 and the transcription of specific genes such as ACVRL1, FN1 and TGFB1. On the other hand, the specific inhibition of TGF-βRI was able to repress the 5FU-induced genes transcription and to restore the sensitivity of chemoresistant cells to the toxic action of the drug, by decreasing the expression of BCL2L1 and ID1 genes. The role of the TGF-β molecule in the chemoresistant colon carcinoma cells' response to 5FU was further demonstrated by conditioned medium (CM) experiments: CM from 5FU-treated chemoresistant cells was able to protect chemosensitive cells against the toxic action of 5FU. In conclusion, these findings showed the pivotal role of TGF-β pathway in colon cancer mechanisms of drug resistance suggesting new possible approaches in diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer patients.

  • Modulation of Matrix Metalloproteinases Activity in the Ventral Horn of the Spinal Cord Re-stores Neuroglial Synaptic Homeostasis and Neurotrophic Support following Peripheral Nerve Injury.

    Publication Date: 30/03/2016 on PloS one
    by Cirillo G, Colangelo AM, De Luca C, Savarese L, Barillari MR, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152750

    Modulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling after peripheral nerve injury (PNI) could represent a valid therapeutic strategy to prevent maladaptive synaptic plasticity in central nervous system (CNS). Inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and maintaining a neurotrophic support could represent two approaches to prevent or reduce the maladaptive plastic changes in the ventral horn of spinal cord following PNI. The purpose of our study was to analyze changes in the ventral horn produced by gliopathy determined by the suffering of motor neurons following spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve and how the intrathecal (i.t.) administration of GM6001 (a MMPs inhibitor) or the NGF mimetic peptide BB14 modulate these events. Immunohistochemical analysis of spinal cord sections revealed that motor neuron disease following SNI was associated with increased microglial (Iba1) and astrocytic (GFAP) response in the ventral horn of the spinal cord, indicative of reactive gliosis. These changes were paralleled by decreased glial aminoacid transporters (glutamate GLT1 and glycine GlyT1), increased levels of the neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1, and a net increase of the Glutamate/GABA ratio, as measured by HPLC analysis. These molecular changes correlated to a significant reduction of mature NGF levels in the ventral horn. Continuous i.t. infusion of both GM6001 and BB14 reduced reactive astrogliosis, recovered the expression of neuronal and glial transporters, lowering the Glutamate/GABA ratio. Inhibition of MMPs by GM6001 significantly increased mature NGF levels, but it was absolutely ineffective in modifying the reactivity of microglia cells. Therefore, MMPs inhibition, although supplies neurotrophic support to ECM components and restores neuro-glial transporters expression, differently modulates astrocytic and microglial response after PNI.