The pre-clinical research laboratories use the most advanced technologies in order to study the pathogenetic and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the main neurological diseases, and identify new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.


Name Target area
A1 – Neuromodulation and Nociceptive Psychophysiology Neurophysiological exploration of pain control mechanisms
A2 – Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology Study of the biological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases
A3 – Neurophysiology of Brainstem and Spinal Reflexes Electrophysiological investigation of exteroceptive and proprioceptive reflex circuits at cranial and spinal level
A4 – Neurophysiology of Integrative Autonomic Systems Study of the pathophysiological mechanisms of chronic neurogenic pain

Laboratory of Neuromodulation and Nociceptive Psychophysiology

Head: Dr. Giuseppe Cosentino

The activity of this laboratory started with the development of methods for studying spinal nociceptive reflexes; subsequently, other techniques were introduced in order to study polysynaptic reflexes of the facial and trigeminal muscles. These methods were mainly used to study pain control mechanisms in different conditions (primary headache forms in particular), as well as the mechanisms of action of various therapies, pharmacological and non-pharmacological, used to treat pain.

More recently, the lab has studied a non-invasive treatment based on direct-current stimulation, which has high neuromodulatory potential. The efficacy of this treatment was evaluated, for chronic pain, by investigating its effect on spinal nociceptive reflexes.


Qualifying equipment:

  • Mystro Medelec electromyograph (Synergy, Medelec, UK)
  • CED1401: polygraphy machine (CED Power interface 1401, CambridgeElectronic Design, Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (formerly Functional Neurochemistry)

Head: Dr Fabio Blandini

This laboratory was set up in 1994, its ultimate objective being to furnish clinical neurology with peripheral markers of nervous system function. To this end, it widened its field of activity from the study of neurochemical dysfunctions in experimental (animal and cell) models, to the analysis of these same dysfunctions, or their correlates, at peripheral level, through the use of circulating cells, serum and fibroblasts obtained from patients affected by specific neurological disorders. The aim was to identify parameters and potential biomarkers of diagnostic/prognostic value that can be applied in clinical practice and might therefore be used to optimize and customize treatments.

The laboratory is currently focusing on Parkinson’s disease, with the general aim of identifying neurochemical parameters related to the onset and/or progression of the disease and linked to the presence of risk factors (e.g. mutations in the GBA1 gene). For this purpose, both experimental animal models and patient analyses are used.

Qualifying equipment:

  • Odyssey Infrared Imaging System(Li-Cor)
  • MicroBrightField Stereology System (MBF Bioscience)
  • SpectraMax Gemini XPS Microplate Reader (Molecular Devices)
  • Stereotaxic Instruments for Rats and Mice (Stoelting)
  • Rotarod for motor coordination and fatigue resistance in rodents (Panlab)
  • Axio Imager M2 fully motorized Microscope (Zeiss)
  • ApoTome for optical sections in fluorescence Imaging (Zeiss)
  • NanoSight NS300 Instrument for nanoparticle characterization (Malvern Panalytical)

Laboratory of Neurophysiology of Brainstem and Spinal Reflexes

Head: Dr Enrico Alfonsi

This laboratory conducts electrophysiological investigations to explore the integrity of exteroceptive and proprioceptive reflex circuits at cranial and spinal level. The mechanisms responsible for facilitatory and inhibitory modulation of these reflexes are also studied. These studies offer the possibility of identifying abnormalities present in different reflex circuits, both monosynaptic and polysynaptic, in numerous diseases of interest to a range of fields: neurology, neurorehabilitation, neurosurgery, orthopedics, otorhinolaryngology, dentistry, urology, and so on.
In particular, the laboratory studies the oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing of both solids and liquids (this entails simultaneous evaluation of the activity of the suprahyoid muscles, the activity of the upper esophageal sphincter, and of the mechanigram of the laryngeal-pharyngeal structures during swallowing ).


Qualifying equipment:

  • Synergy elettcromyograph ( 5 channels)
  • Vibratory stimulation Unit (Erre Enne)
  • Amplifier and biaxial accelerometer Bruel-Kjaer
  • Strain-gauge with amplifier DS –Europe
  • Multi-channels recording system (CED)
  • Digitimer Multipulse Stimulator D-185
  • ATES STM 9000 magnetic stimulator

Laboratory of Neurophysiology of Integrative Autonomic Systems

Head: Prof. Cristina Tassorelli

Joint head: Dr Rosaria Greco

This laboratory studies pathophysiological mechanisms and researches potential new therapeutic targets in a number of neurological diseases, such as headache, chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke, through the use of experimental animal models.

In the field of pain, the laboratory explores neurochemical and neurofunctional aspects, at both central and peripheral level, of different types of pain. An animal model of migraine, based on systemic administration of nitroglycerin, was recently developed to provide further information on the mechanisms underlying trigeminal nociception, and an animal model of chronic migraine has also been developed. In recent years, research has focused on the role of the endocannabinoid system in migraine pain and in trigeminal hyperalgesia, through a pharmacological-behavioral and biomolecular approach.

With regard to stroke, the research involves the use of an animal model of cerebral ischemia to test potential therapeutic molecules, while evaluation of the circulating monocyte phenotype in subjects with stroke is currently ongoing.

Qualifying equipment:

  • Leica Biosystems SM2010 R Sliding Microtome
  • Histoline Microtome Automated Rotary Microtome
  • Electrophoresis chambers, PowerPac™ Basic system, Trans Blot turbo Blotting System (Bio-Rad)
  • Real-Time PCR Instrument, Light Cycler 480, Roche
  • ThermoFischer , NanoDrop Spectrophotometer
  • EVE™Automated cell counter
  • BD FACSMelody™ cell sorter
  • Stoelting Standard™ Stereotaxic Instrument
  • Masterflex Peristaltic Pumps perfusion
  • KD Scientific, Peristaltic Pump infusion
  • Laser Doppler Oxi FLO 2000
  • Nociceptive testing equipment: Ugo Basile hot-plate tail-flick, Von Frey filaments, Incapacitance tester
  • Nikon stereo-microscope