Dr Rosaria Greco
This unit uses animal models of disease to explore physio-pathogenetic mechanisms and possible new therapeutic opportunities in neurological conditions such as headache, chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. Specifically, it examines, at brain level, neurochemical and neurofunctional aspects of different types of pain (especially migraine pain). To this end, trigeminal hyperalgesia is induced by means of systemic administration of nitroglycerin (NTG) in rats, whose behavior is then assessed using the orofacial formalin test. Other experimental models developed for the study of migraine include a chronic migraine model based on chronic administration of NTG and dural inflammation induced by dural infusion of an inflammatory solution.
In parallel, the trigeminal neuropathic pain model, based on chronic constriction of the infraorbital nerve, has been standardized.
In recent years, part of the Unit’s research has focused on the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in migraine. In particular, it has studied modulation of this system, obtained using new inhibitors of endocannabinoid catabolism or natural molecules, and identified, by means of immunohistochemical and molecular biology methods, some potential mediators involved in migraine pain.
More recently, a new research project has been started that aims to identify, in patients with chronic migraine, potential peripheral biomarkers predicting response to monoclonal antibodies against CGRP (Biomiga, funded by Eranet, 2019). This research will also be performed in parallel on the animal model, so as to better evaluate and strengthen the analysis of the targets in patients.
In stroke research, the Unit uses an experimental (rat) model of cerebral ischemia, developed in collaboration with the University of Calabria (Department of Biological Pharmacology) and the “Magna Grecia” University of Catanzaro (Department of Health Science). In collaboration with IIT (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, the Italian Institute of Technology) in Genoa, it plans to use this model to study the effects of intracortical electrical stimulation applied after ischemic damage with the aim of promoting changes in network activity and consequent improvements in motor behavioral performance.
Research projects currently under way are funded by different bodies, such as the Italian Ministry of Health — “Current Research” (Ricerca Corrente) and “Targeted Research” (Ricerca Finalizzata) programs —, the ERA-NET European funding scheme, and private corporations.