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


  • Methylphenidate administration determines enduring changes in neuroglial network in rats.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2012 on European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
    by Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, Bianco MR, Adriani W, De Simone A, Leo D, Perrone-Capano C, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.003

    Repeated exposure to psychostimulant drugs induces complex molecular and structural modifications in discrete brain regions of the meso-cortico-limbic system. This structural remodeling is thought to underlie neurobehavioral adaptive responses. Administration to adolescent rats of methylphenidate (MPH), commonly used in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), triggers alterations of reward-based behavior paralleled by persistent and plastic synaptic changes of neuronal and glial markers within key areas of the reward circuits. By immunohistochemistry, we observe a marked increase of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) expression and a down-regulation of glial glutamate transporter GLAST in dorso-lateral and ventro-medial striatum. Using electron microscopy, we find in the prefrontal cortex a significant reduction of the synaptic active zone length, paralleled by an increase of dendritic spines. We demonstrate that in limbic areas the MPH-induced reactive astrocytosis affects the glial glutamatergic uptake system that in turn could determine glutamate receptor sensitization. These processes could be sustained by NO production and synaptic rearrangement and contribute to MPH neuroglial induced rewiring.

  • Cross-talk between cell cycle induction and mitochondrial dysfunction during oxidative stress and nerve growth factor withdrawal in differentiated PC12 cells.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2011 on Journal of neuroscience research
    by Bianco MR, Berbenni M, Amara F, Viggiani S, Fragni M, Galimberti V, Colombo D, Cirillo G, Papa M, Alberghina L, Colangelo AM
    DOI: 10.1002/jnr.22665

    Neuronal death has been reported to involve mitochondrial dysfunction and cell cycle reentry. In this report, we used Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-differentiated PC12 cells to investigate mechanisms linking mitochondrial dysfunction and cell cycle activation during neuronal death induced by NGF withdrawal and/or oxidative stress. We found that loss of survival following H(2) O(2) -induced oxidative stress or NGF deprivation was preceded by a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), and up-regulation of cyclin D1 and phosphorylation (Ser-780) of protein retinoblastoma (P-pRb), without an increase of proliferation rates. Treatment with H(2) O(2) , but not NGF deprivation, also induced the phosporylation (Ser-10) of p27(kip1) and the appearance of a cleaved P-p27(kip1) fragment of about 15 kDa. The extent of cell cycle activation appeared to be inversely correlated to the duration of toxic stimuli (pulse/continuous). H(2) O(2) -induced mitogenic responses appeared to be mediated by induction of P-MAPK and P-Akt and were blocked by p38MAPK and JNK inhibitors as well as by the CDK inhibitor flavopiridol (Flav) and by sodium selenite (Sel), a component of selenoproteins, including glutathione peroxidases. Inhibition of p38MAPK and JNK, instead, did not affect cyclin D1 changes following NGF deprivation. Finally, both Flav hydrochloride and Sel partially prevented mitochondrial dysfunction and cell death following NGF withdrawal or H(2) O(2) toxicity, but not during oxidative stress in the absence of NGF. Taken together, these data suggest that H(2) O(2) -induced oxidative stress can determine distinct patterns of mitogenic responses as a function of mitochondrial dysfunction depending on 1) intensity/duration of stress stimuli and/or 2) presence of NGF.

  • Reactive astrocytosis-induced perturbation of synaptic homeostasis is restored by nerve growth factor.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2011 on Neurobiology of disease
    by Cirillo G, Bianco MR, Colangelo AM, Cavaliere C, Daniele de L, Zaccaro L, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2010.11.012

    Reactive gliosis has been implicated in both inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. However, mechanisms by which astrocytic activation affects synaptic efficacy have been poorly elucidated. We have used the spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve to induce reactive astrocytosis in the lumbar spinal cord and investigate its potential role in disrupting the neuro-glial circuitry. Analysis of spinal cord sections revealed that SNI was associated with an increase of microglial (Iba1) and astrocytic (GFAP) markers. These changes, indicative of reactive gliosis, were paralleled by (i) a decrease of glial amino acid 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. Besides the increase of Glutamate/GABA ratio, indicative of the perturbation of synaptic circuitry homeostasis, the boost of glutamate also compromised glial function in neuroprotection by up-regulating the xCT subunit of the glutamate-cystine antiport system and reducing glutathione (GSH) production. Finally, this study also shows that all these structural changes were linked to an alteration of endogenous NGF metabolism, as demonstrated by the decrease of endogenous NGF expression levels and increased activity of the NGF-degrading metalloproteinases. All the changes displayed by SNI-animals were reversed by a 7-days i.t. administration of NGF or GM6001, a generic metalloproteinase inhibitor, as compared to vehicle (ACSF)-treated animals. All together, these data strongly support the correlation between reactive astrogliosis and mechanisms underlying the perturbation of the synaptic circuitry in the SNI model of peripheral nerve injury, and the essential role of NGF in restoring both synaptic homeostasis and the neuroprotective function of glia.

  • Discriminative behavioral assessment unveils remarkable reactive astrocytosis and early molecular correlates in basal ganglia of 3-nitropropionic acid subchronic treated rats.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2010 on Neurochemistry international
    by Cirillo G, Maggio N, Bianco MR, Vollono C, Sellitti S, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuint.2009.09.013

    Reactive astrocytosis seems to be strongly implicated in the development and maintenance of inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. We design a new toxic model treatment with 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP), a mitochondrial complex II irreversible inhibitor, to induce in rats Huntington's disease (HD) like syndrome, characterized by hindlimb dystonia, involuntary choreiform movements and reduced global activity. In an attempt to find out whether molecular and morphological changes in the neuro-glial network could be involved in the pathogenesis of this disease, we developed a protocol of subchronic intra-peritoneal 3-NP intoxication. Moreover we set up specific, highly discriminative, behavioral tests to detect very early mild motor disabilities in 3-NP treated rats. This treatment did not cause severe cell death. However, in the Caudate-Putamen (CPu) of all 3-NP treated animals we found a massive astrogliosis, revealed by increased GFAP levels, paralleled by changes of the glial glutamate transporter GLAST distribution. To these glial changes we detected a transcriptional upregulation of c-fos and Sub-P in the striatal medium spiny neurons (MSN). We propose that this model of 3-NP intoxication along with the designed set of behavioral analyses allow to unmask in a very early phase the motor deficits and the underlying morpho-molecular changes associated to the onset of motor disabilities in the HD-like syndrome. Therefore this model unveil the key role played by the different components of the tripartite synapse in the pathogenesis of the HD, a putative non-cell-autonomous disease.

  • Intrathecal NGF administration reduces reactive astrocytosis and changes neurotrophin receptors expression pattern in a rat model of neuropathic pain.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2010 on Cellular and molecular neurobiology
    by Cirillo G, Cavaliere C, Bianco MR, De Simone A, Colangelo AM, Sellitti S, Alberghina L, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1007/s10571-009-9430-2

    Nerve growth factor (NGF), an essential peptide for sensory neurons, seems to have opposite effects when administered peripherally or directly to the central nervous system. We investigated the effects of 7-days intrathecal (i.t.) infusion of NGF on neuronal and glial spinal markers relevant to neuropathic behavior induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. Allodynic and hyperalgesic behaviors were investigated by Von Frey and thermal Plantar tests, respectively. NGF-treated animals showed reduced allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia, compared to control animals. We evaluated on lumbar spinal cord the expression of microglial (ED-1), astrocytic (GFAP and S-100beta), and C- and Adelta-fibers (SubP, IB-4 and Cb) markers. I.t. NGF treatment reduced reactive astrocytosis and the density of SubP, IB4 and Cb positive fibers in the dorsal horn of injured animals. Morphometric parameters of proximal sciatic nerve stump fibers and cells in DRG were also analyzed in CCI rats: myelin thickness was reduced and DRG neurons and satellite cells appeared hypertrophic. I.t. NGF treatment showed a beneficial effect in reversing these molecular and morphological alterations. Finally, we analyzed by immunohistochemistry the expression pattern of neurotrophin receptors TrkA, pTrkA, TrkB and p75(NTR). Substantial alterations in neurotrophin receptors expression were observed in the spinal cord of CCI and NGF-treated animals. Our results indicate that i.t. NGF administration reverses the neuro-glial morphomolecular changes occurring in neuropathic animals paralleled by alterations in neurotrophin receptors ratio, and suggest that NGF is effective in restoring homeostatic conditions in the spinal cord and maintaining analgesia in neuropathic pain.

  • Methylphenidate to adolescent rats drives enduring changes of accumbal Htr7 expression: implications for impulsive behavior and neuronal morphology.

    Publication Date: 01/04/2009 on Genes, brain, and behavior
    by Leo D, Adriani W, Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, Marco EM, Romano E, di Porzio U, Papa M, Perrone-Capano C, Laviola G
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2009.00486.x

    Methylphenidate (MPH) administration to adolescent rodents produces persistent region-specific changes in brain reward circuits and alterations of reward-based behavior. We show that these modifications include a marked increment of serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine) receptor type 7 (Htr7) expression and synaptic contacts, mainly in the nucleus accumbens, and a reduction of basal behavioral impulsivity. We show that neural and behavioral consequences are functionally related: administration of a selective Htr7 antagonist fully counteracts the MPH-reduced impulsive behavior and enhances impulsivity when administered alone in naive rats. Agonist-induced activation of endogenous Htr7 significantly increases neurite length in striatal neuron primary cultures, thus suggesting plastic remodeling of neuronal morphology. The mixed Htr (1a/7) agonist, 8-OH-DPAT, reduces impulsive behavior in adolescent rats and in naive adults, whose impulsivity is enhanced by the Htr7 antagonist. In summary, behavioral pharmacology experiments show that Htr7 mediates self-control behavior, and brain primary cultures experiments indicate that this receptor may be involved in the underlying neural plasticity, through changes in neuronal cytoarchitecture.

  • A new nerve growth factor-mimetic peptide active on neuropathic pain in rats.

    Publication Date: 12/03/2008 on The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
    by Colangelo AM, Bianco MR, Vitagliano L, Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, De Gioia L, Diana D, Colombo D, Redaelli C, Zaccaro L, Morelli G, Papa M, Sarmientos P, Alberghina L, Martegani E
    DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5201-07.2008

    Analysis of the structure of nerve growth factor (NGF)-tyrosine kinase receptor A (TrkA) complex, site-directed mutagenesis studies and results from chemical modification of amino acid residues have identified loop 1, loop 4, and the N-terminal region of the NGF molecule as the most relevant for its biological activity. We synthesized several peptides mimicking the two loops (1 and 4) linked together with an appropriate spacer, with or without the N-terminal region. Two peptides named NL1L4 and L1L4 demonstrated good NGF agonist activity at a concentration as low as 3 mum. They induced differentiation of chick dorsal root ganglia and stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of TrkA, but not TrkB, receptor. In addition L1L4 was able to induce differentiation of PC12 cells. More interestingly, the peptide with the highest "in vitro" activity (L1L4) was shown to reduce neuropathic behavior and restore neuronal function in a rat model of peripheral neuropathic pain, thereby suggesting a potential therapeutic role for this NGF-mimetic peptide.

  • Reactive astrocytosis and glial glutamate transporter clustering are early changes in a spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 transgenic mouse model.

    Publication Date: 01/11/2007 on Neuron glia biology
    by Giovannoni R, Maggio N, Rosaria Bianco M, Cavaliere C, Cirillo G, Lavitrano M, Papa M
    DOI: 10.1017/S1740925X08000185

    Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeats within the coding sequence of the ataxin-1 protein. In the present study, we used a conditional transgenic mouse model of SCA1 to investigate very early molecular and morphological changes related to the behavioral phenotype. In mice with neural deficits detected by rotarod performance, and simultaneous spatial impairments in exploratory activity and uncoordinated gait, we observed both significant altered expression and patchy distribution of excitatory amino acids transporter 1. The molecular changes observed in astroglial compartments correlate with changes in synapse morphology; synapses have a dramatic reduction of the synaptic area external to the postsynaptic density. By contrast, Purkinje cells demonstrate preserved structure. In addition, severe reactive astrocytosis matches changes in the glial glutamate transporter and synapse morphology. We propose these morpho-molecular changes are the cause of altered synaptic transmission, which, in turn, determines the onset of the neurological symptoms by altering the synaptic transmission in the cerebellar cortex of transgenic animals. This model might be suitable for testing drugs that target activated glial cells in order to reduce CNS inflammation.

  • Genetically modified pigs produced with a nonviral episomal vector.

    Publication Date: 21/11/2006 on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    by Manzini S, Vargiolu A, Stehle IM, Bacci ML, Cerrito MG, Giovannoni R, Zannoni A, Bianco MR, Forni M, Donini P, Papa M, Lipps HJ, Lavitrano M
    DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0604938103

    Genetic modification of cells and animals is an invaluable tool for biotechnology and biomedicine. Currently, integrating vectors are used for this purpose. These vectors, however, may lead to insertional mutagenesis and variable transgene expression and can undergo silencing. Scaffold/matrix attachment region-based vectors are nonviral expression systems that replicate autonomously in mammalian cells, thereby making possible safe and reliable genetic modification of higher eukaryotic cells and organisms. In this study, genetically modified pig fetuses were produced with the scaffold/matrix attachment region-based vector pEPI, delivered to embryos by the sperm-mediated gene transfer method. The pEPI vector was detected in 12 of 18 fetuses in the different tissues analyzed and was shown to be retained as an episome. The reporter gene encoded by the pEPI vector was expressed in 9 of 12 genetically modified fetuses. In positive animals, all tissues analyzed expressed the reporter gene; moreover in these tissues, the positive cells were on the average 79%. The high percentage of EGFP-expressing cells and the absence of mosaicism have important implications for biotechnological and biomedical applications. These results are an important step forward in animal transgenesis and can provide the basis for the future development of germ-line gene therapy.

  • Multi-transgenic pigs expressing three fluorescent proteins produced with high efficiency by sperm mediated gene transfer.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2005 on Molecular reproduction and development
    by Webster NL, Forni M, Bacci ML, Giovannoni R, Razzini R, Fantinati P, Zannoni A, Fusetti L, Dalprà L, Bianco MR, Papa M, Seren E, Sandrin MS, Mc Kenzie IF, Lavitrano M
    DOI: 10.1002/mrd.20316

    Multi-gene transgenic pigs would be of benefit for large animal models in medical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical applications; in particular for xenotransplantation, where extensive genetic manipulation of donor pigs is required to make them suitable for organ grafting to humans. We used the sperm mediated gene transfer (SMGT) method to produce with high efficiency multi-gene transgenic pigs using three genes coding for fluorescent proteins: enhanced blue (EBFP), green (EGFP), and red (DsRed2). All three fluorescent proteins were expressed in 171 out of 195 normally developed morula/blastocysts examined at day 6 post insemination (88%). Genomic DNA of 18 piglets born from two litters was screened by PCR, showing that all piglets were transgenic with at least one gene, 7/18 piglets were triple transgenic, 7/18 double transgenic, and 4/18 single transgenic. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis revealed multiple sites of integration of the transgenes. RNA and protein expression was found in muscle, heart, liver, hair, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). These results show that SMGT is an effective method for introducing multiple genes into pigs as shown by the simultaneous expression of three fluorescent proteins.