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


  • Comparing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases networks using graph communities structure.

    Publication Date: 02/03/2016 on BMC systems biology
    by Calderone A, Formenti M, Aprea F, Papa M, Alberghina L, Colangelo AM, Bertolazzi P
    DOI: 10.1186/s12918-016-0270-7

    Recent advances in large datasets analysis offer new insights to modern biology allowing system-level investigation of pathologies. Here we describe a novel computational method that exploits the ever-growing amount of "omics" data to shed light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Neurological disorders exhibit a huge number of molecular alterations due to a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Classical reductionist approaches are focused on a few elements, providing a narrow overview of the etiopathogenic complexity of multifactorial diseases. On the other hand, high-throughput technologies allow the evaluation of many components of biological systems and their behaviors. Analysis of Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) from a network perspective can highlight proteins or pathways common but differently represented that can be discriminating between the two pathological conditions, thus highlight similarities and differences.

  • Astrocytes and Microglia-Mediated Immune Response in Maladaptive Plasticity is Differently Modulated by NGF in the Ventral Horn of the Spinal Cord Following Peripheral Nerve Injury.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2016 on Cellular and molecular neurobiology
    by De Luca C, Savarese L, Colangelo AM, Bianco MR, Cirillo G, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1007/s10571-015-0218-2

    Reactive astrocytes and activated microglia are the key players in several pathophysiologic modifications of the central nervous system. We used the spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve to induce glial maladaptive response in the ventral horn of lumbar spinal cord and examine its role in the remodeling of the tripartite synapse plasticity. Imaging the ventral horn revealed that SNI was associated with both an early microglial and astrocytic activation, assessed, respectively, by analysis of Iba1 and GFAP expression. Microglia, in particular, localized peculiarly surrounding the motor neurons somata. Perineuronal astrocytes, which play a key role in maintaining the homeostasis of neuronal circuitry, underwent a substantial phenotypic change following peripheral axotomy, producing reactive gliosis. The gliosis was associated with the reduction of glial aminoacid transporters (GLT1 and GlyT1) and increase of neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1. Although the expression of GABAergic neuronal marker GAD65/67 showed no change, glutamate increase, as demonstrated by HPLC analysis, shifted the excitatory/inhibitory balance as showed by the net increase of the glutamate/GABA ratio. Moreover, endogenous NGF levels were altered in SNI animals and not restored by the intrathecal NGF administration. This treatment reverted phenotypic changes associated with reactive astrocytosis, but failed to modify microglia activation. These findings on one hand confirm the correlation between gliopathy and maladaptive plasticity of the spinal synaptic circuitry, on the other hand add new data concerning the complex peculiar behavior of different glial cells in neuronal degenerative processes, defining a special role of microglia in sustaining the inflammatory response.

  • Purinergic Modulation of Spinal Neuroglial Maladaptive Plasticity Following Peripheral Nerve Injury.

    Publication Date: 01/12/2015 on Molecular neurobiology
    by Cirillo G, Colangelo AM, Berbenni M, Ippolito VM, De Luca C, Verdesca F, Savarese L, Alberghina L, Maggio N, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1007/s12035-014-8943-y

    Modulation of spinal reactive gliosis following peripheral nerve injury (PNI) is a promising strategy to restore synaptic homeostasis. Oxidized ATP (OxATP), a nonselective antagonist of purinergic P2X receptors, was found to recover a neuropathic behavior following PNI. We investigated the role of intraperitoneal (i.p.) OxATP treatment in restoring the expression of neuronal and glial markers in the mouse spinal cord after sciatic spared nerve injury (SNI). Using in vivo two-photon microscopy, we imaged Ca(2+) transients in neurons and astrocytes of the dorsal horn of spinal cord at rest and upon right hind paw electrical stimulation in sham, SNI, and OxATP-treated mice. Neuropathic behavior was investigated by von Frey and thermal plantar test. Glial [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba1)] and GABAergic [vesicular GABA transporter (vGAT) and glutamic acid decarboxylase 65/76 (GAD65/67)] markers and glial [glutamate transporter (GLT1) and GLAST] and neuronal amino acid [EAAC1, vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (vGLUT1)] transporters have been evaluated. In SNI mice, we found (i) increased glial response, (ii) decreased glial amino acid transporters, and (iii) increased levels of neuronal amino acid transporters, and (iv) in vivo analysis of spinal neurons and astrocytes showed a persistent increase of Ca(2+) levels. OxATP administration reduced glial activation, modulated the expression of glial and neuronal glutamate/GABA transporters, restored neuronal and astrocytic Ca(2+) levels, and prevented neuropathic behavior. In vitro studies validated that OxATP (i) reduced levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), (ii) reduced astrocytic proliferation, (iii) increase vGLUT expression. All together, these data support the correlation between reactive gliosis and perturbation of the spinal synaptic homeostasis and the role played by the purinergic system in modulating spinal plasticity following PNI.

  • Astrocyte-neuron interplay in maladaptive plasticity.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2014 on Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews
    by Papa M, De Luca C, Petta F, Alberghina L, Cirillo G
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.01.010

    The complexity of neuronal networks cannot only be explained by neuronal activity so neurobiological research in the last decade has focused on different components of the central nervous system: the glia. Glial cells are fundamental elements for development and maintenance of physiological brain work. New data confirm that glia significantly influences neuronal communication through specific molecules, named "gliotransmitters", and their related receptors. This new approach to the traditional model of the way synapses work is also supported by changes occurring in pathological conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases or toxic/traumatic injury to nervous system. Experimental models have revealed that glial cells are the starting point of damage progression that subsequently involves neurons. The "bedside to bench" approach has demonstrated that clinical phenotypes are strictly related to neuronal death, however it is conceivable that the disease begins earlier, years before clinical onset. This temporal gap is necessary to determine complex changes in the neuro-glial network organization and produce a "maladaptive plasticity". We review the function of glial cells in health and disease, pointing the putative mechanisms of maladaptive plasticity, suggesting that glial cells may represent a fascinating therapeutic target to prevent irreversible neuronal cell death.

  • Astrogliosis as a therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases.

    Publication Date: 17/04/2014 on Neuroscience letters
    by Colangelo AM, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2014.01.014

    Chronic neurodegenerative diseases represent major unmet needs for therapeutic interventions. Recently, the neurocentric view of brain function and disease has been challenged by a great number of evidence supporting the physiopathological potential of neuroglia. Astrocytes, in particular, play a pivotal role in brain homeostasis as they actively participate in neuronal metabolism, synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection. Furthermore, they are intrinsic components of brain responses to toxic and traumatic insults through complex processes involving several molecular and functional alterations that may lead to disruption of brain homeostasis and connectivity. This review provides a brief overview of current knowledge of astrocyte functions in the brain, and focuses on some glial-specific pathways involved in astrocytic dysfunction that might be effective therapeutic targets for clinical management of neurodegenerative disorders.

  • Comorbidities and crash involvement among younger and older drivers.

    Publication Date: 10/04/2014 on PloS one
    by Papa M, Boccardi V, Prestano R, Angellotti E, Desiderio M, Marano L, Rizzo MR, Paolisso G
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094564

    Previous studies identified comorbidities as predictors of older driver performance and driving pattern, while the direct impact of comorbidities on road crash risk in elderly drivers is still unknown. The present study is a cross-sectional aimed at investigating the association between levels of comorbidity and crash involvement in adult and elderly drivers. 327 drivers were stratified according to age range in two groups: elderly drivers (age ≥70 years old, referred as older) and adult drivers (age <70 years old, referred as younger). Driving information was obtained through a driving questionnaire. Distance traveled was categorized into low, medium and high on the basis of kilometers driven in a year. CIRS-illness severity (IS) and CIRS-comorbidity indices (CI) in all populations were calculated. Older drivers had a significantly higher crash involvements rate (p = .045) compared with the younger group based on the number of licensed drivers. Dividing comorbidity indices into tertiles among all licensed subjects, the number of current drivers significantly decreased (p<.0001) with increasing level of comorbidity. The number of current drivers among older subjects significantly decreased with increasing comorbidity level (p = .026) while no difference among younger group was found (p = .462). Among younger drivers with increasing comorbidity level, the number of road accidents significantly increased (p = .048) and the logistic regression analysis showed that comorbidity level significantly associated with crash involvement independent of gender and driving exposure. Older subjects with high level of comorbidity are able to self-regulate driving while comorbidity burden represents a significant risk factor for crash involvements among younger drivers.

  • Remodelling of supraspinal neuroglial network in neuropathic pain is featured by a reactive gliosis of the nociceptive amygdala.

    Publication Date: 01/07/2013 on European journal of pain (London, England)
    by Marcello L, Cavaliere C, Colangelo AM, Bianco MR, Cirillo G, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00255.x

    Many brain areas participate to supraspinal control of nociception. In these regions, few studies have investigated the role of glial cells in supraspinal plasticity and the effect of 7-day intrathecal nerve growth factor-like (BB14®, Blueprint Biotech, Milano, Italy) treatment.

  • Neuropathic pain and reactive gliosis are reversed by dialdehydic compound in neuropathic pain rat models.

    Publication Date: 14/11/2012 on Neuroscience letters
    by Bianco MR, Cirillo G, Petrosino V, Marcello L, Soleti A, Merizzi G, Cavaliere C, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.08.088

    The role of the purinergic system in the modulation of pain mechanisms suggests that it might be promising target for treating neuropathic pain. In this study we evaluated the effects of two different dialdehydic compounds: a modified stable adenosine (2-[1-(6-amminopurin-9-il)-2-osso-etossi]prop-2-enale, named MED1101), and oxidized ATP (Ox-ATP), in two different neuropathic pain rat models: the sciatic spared nerve injury (SNI) and paclitaxel evoked painful peripheral neuropathy (pPPN). Neuropathic animals were divided in groups as follows: (a) treated with intraperitoneal (i.p.) MED1101 or Ox-ATP for 21 days; (b) receiving vehicle (VEH) and (c) control (CTR) rats. The allodynic and hyperalgesic behavior was investigated by Von Frey filament test and thermal Plantar test, respectively. We evaluated by immunocytochemistry the astrocytic (GFAP) and microglial (Iba1) response on lumbar spinal cord sections. In either experimental models and using either substances, treated animals showed reduced allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia paralleled by a significant reduction of glial reaction in the spinal cord. These data prompt to hypothesize a potential role of dialdehydes as analgesic agent in chronic neuropathic pain and a possible role as anti-gliotic molecules.

  • Targeting reactive astrogliosis by novel biotechnological strategies.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on Biotechnology advances
    by Colangelo AM, Cirillo G, Lavitrano ML, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2011.06.016

    Neuroglial cells are fundamental for control of brain homeostasis and synaptic plasticity. Decades of pathological and physiological studies have focused on neurons in neurodegenerative disorders, but it is becoming increasingly evident that glial cells play an irreplaceable part in brain homeostasis and synaptic plasticity. Animal models of brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases have largely contributed to current understanding of astrocyte-specific mechanisms participating in brain function and neurodegeneration. Specifically, gliotransmission (presence of glial neurotransmitters, and their receptors and active transporters), trophic support (release, maturation and degradation of neurotrophins) and metabolism (production of lactate and GSH components) are relevant aspects of astrocyte function in neuronal metabolism, synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection. Morpho-functional changes of astrocytes and microglial cells after traumatic or toxic insults to the central nervous system (namely, reactive gliosis) disrupt the complex neuro-glial networks underlying homeostasis and connectivity within brain circuits. Thus, neurodegenerative diseases might be primarily regarded as gliodegenerative processes, in which profound alterations of glial activation have a clear impact on progression and outcomes of neuropathological processes. This review provides an overview of current knowledge of astrocyte functions in the brain and how targeting glial-specific pathways might ultimately impact the development of therapies for clinical management of neurodegenerative disorders.

  • BB14, a Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-like peptide shown to be effective in reducing reactive astrogliosis and restoring synaptic homeostasis in a rat model of peripheral nerve injury.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on Biotechnology advances
    by Cirillo G, Colangelo AM, Bianco MR, Cavaliere C, Zaccaro L, Sarmientos P, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2011.05.008

    Peptidomimetics hold a great promise as therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative disorders. We previously described a Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-like peptide, now named BB14, which was found to act as a strong TrkA agonist and to be effective in the sciatic nerve injury model of neuropathic pain. In this report we present the effects of BB14 in reducing reactive astrocytosis and reverting neuroplastic changes of the glutamate/GABAergic circuitry in the lumbar spinal cord following spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve. Immunohistochemical analysis of spinal cord sections revealed that SNI was associated with increased microglial (Iba1) and astrocytic (GFAP) responses, indicative of reactive gliosis. These changes were paralleled by (i) decreased glial aminoacid transporters (GLT1 and GlyT1) and increased levels of (ii) neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1, (iii) neuronal vesicular GABA transporter (vGAT) and (iv) the GABAergic neuron marker GAD65/67. A remarkable increase of the Glutamate/GABA ratio and the reduction of glutathione (GSH) levels were also indicative of modifications of glial function in neuroprotection. All these molecular changes were found to be linked to an alteration of endogenous NGF metabolism, as demonstrated by decreased levels of mature NGF, increase of proNGF and increased activity of NGF-degrading methallo-proteinases (MMPs). Biochemical alterations and SNI-related neuropathic behavior, characterized by allodynia and hyperalgesia, were reversed by 7-days i.t. administration of the NGF-like peptide BB14, as well as by increasing endogenous NGF levels by i.t. infusion of GM6001, a MMPs inhibitor. All together, while confirming the correlation between reactive astrogliosis and perturbation of synaptic circuitry in the SNI model of peripheral nerve injury, these data strongly support the beneficial effect of BB14 in reducing reactive astrogliosis and restoring synaptic homeostasis under pathological conditions linked to alteration of NGF availability and signaling, thereby suggesting a potential role of BB14 as a therapeutic agent.