Anna Maria Colangelo


Anna Maria Colangelo (PhD, Pharmacology) is Assistant Professor in Biochemistry, teacher of Neurobiochemistry (LM Biotecnologie Industriali), head of the Laboratory of Neuroscience “Rita Levi-Montalcini”, Dept Biotechnology & Biosciences, University Milano-Bicocca. After initial studies on autoimmune aspect in Multiple Sclerosis (University of Bari, 1988-89) and degeneration of nigro-striatal system in Parkinson disease (National Neurological Institute “Besta”, 1989-90), she moved as Staff Fellow and then Assistant Professor to the Dept of Cell Biology of Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA, 1991-99), with 1-year (1996-97) Sabbatical leave at National Cancer Institute (Frederick MD, USA 1996-97). Since 1991, her research has focused on neurobiology of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF): regulation, signaling, role in brain function and neuroprotection, and potential therapeutic application in neurodegenerative diseases.


Decreased signaling of neurotrophic factors, like Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), plays a pivotal role in neuronal vulnerability in aging. In our model of neuronal dysfunction, a key role is played by mitochondria, whose function is modulated by the PI3K/Akt signaling in response to NGF (5). Furthermore, our studies in animal models of peripheral nerve injury indicate that both NGF and the NGF-like peptide (BB14) are able to modulate a number of molecular events linked to reactive gliosis and the alteration of the neuro-glial network (3, 4). Based on these findings, we are using in-vitro models of AD and PD in cell lines (PC12) and primary cortical neurons exposed to PD-neurotoxins (Rotenone and 6-OHDA) (2), as well as primary astrocytes (in-vitro model of reactive gliosis) to investigate:

  1. the complex signaling network regulating mitochondrial function, by assessing biochemical and molecular events regulating mitochondrial dynamics (fission-fusion, mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis);
  2. the interaction between oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in AD and PD models to obtain a better understanding of the complex neuro-glial network dysfunction;
  3. mitochondrial bioenergetics (Seahorse technology) and metabolic alterations by assessing metabolomics profile and metabolic flux analysis (1);
  4. mechanisms of neuroprotection by NGF molecular and functional characterization of neuroprotection by NGF and the NGF-like molecule BB14 in-vitro and in animal models


  1. Gaglio D, Valtorta S, Ripamonti M, Bonanomi M, Damiani C, Todde S, Negri AS, Sanvito F, Mastroianni F, Di Campli A, Turacchio G, Di Grigoli G, Belloli S, Luini A, Gilardi MC, Colangelo AM, Alberghina L, Moresco RM (2016). Divergent in vitro/in vivo responses to drug treatments of highly aggressive NIH-Ras cancer cells: a PET imaging and metabolomics-mass-spectrometry study. Oncotarget. 2016 Jul 7. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.10470.
  2. Sala G, Marinig D, Riva C, Arosio A, Stefanoni G, Brighina L, Formenti M, Alberghina L, Colangelo AM, Ferrarese C (2016). Rotenone down-regulates HSPA8/hsc70 chaperone protein in vitro: A new possible toxic mechanism contributing to Parkinson’s disease. Neurotoxicology. 2016 Apr 28;54:161-169. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2016.04.018.
  3.  Colangelo AM, Cirillo G, Lavitrano ML, Alberghina L, Papa M. Targeting reactive astrogliosis by novel biotechnological strategies. Biotechnol Adv. 2012; 30(1):261-71.
  4. Cirillo G, Colangelo AM, Bianco MR, Cavaliere C, Zaccaro L, Sarmientos P, Alberghina L, Papa M. 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. Biotechnol Adv. 2012; 30(1):223-32.
  5. Bianco MR, Berbenni M, Amara F, Viggiani S, Fragni M, Galimberti V, Colombo D, Cirillo G, Papa M, Alberghina L, Colangelo AM. Cross-talk between cell cycle induction and mitochondrial dysfunction during oxidative stress and nerve growth factor withdrawal in differentiated PC12 cells. J Neurosci Res. 2011; 89(8):1302-15.


  • Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Molecular Cell Physiology, Vrije University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam (Prof Hans Westerhoff)
  • Dept Bioinfomatics and Biochemistry and Braunschweig – Integrated Center of Systems Biology (BRICS), Technische Universiät Braunschweig, Braunschweig (Prof. Karsten Hiller)
  • Stem Cell & Brain Research Institute, INSERM, Bron (Prof. Brian Rudkin)
  • Georgetown University, Washington, DC (Prof. I. Mocchetti)

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