Genni Desiato

Born in Termoli on June 24th, 1989, I got enrolled at Università Politecnica delle Marche (Ancona) where I graduated in 2011, obtaining the Bachelor of Science title in Life Sciences in 2011 with honours, and the Master of Science degree in Applied Biology in 2013 with Biotechnological specialization, receiving Honours and right of publication. Before moving to Milan, I have also successfully got qualified to work as a Biologist.
I am an ever -positive and enthusiastic person, fuelled with loads of energy, curiosity and with a strong passion for Neuroscience. Hence, from 1st December 2014, I have joined the Università of Milano Bicocca, where I got enrolled at the PhD Program in Neuroscience, working on different projects, under the supervision of PhD S. Coco, in collaboration with the lab of Professor M. Matteoli at the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre, where I am spending a lot of time.
Starting from this July, I will move to Canada until the end of my doctoral studies for an exciting research training abroad.


Regulation of the GABA switch by immunomodulatory signals

  • Track: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Tutor. Silvia Coco

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) represent a new potential platform for restoring damaged nerve tissues. As they are stem cells, they also represent a good option for the treatment of neurologic diseases, because of their documented strong anti-inflammatory properties, their positive role on neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and myelination, overall promoting neuronal growth and differentiation. MSCs exert their action basically through the release of trophic factors, and especially nano-sized extracellular organelles, known as Extracellular Vesicles (EVs), that bear all the advantages of the parental cells, but possibly avoiding those side effects usually related to a cell-based therapy.

In our lab we have previously demonstrated that MSCs are able to sustain the neuronal growth and also to enhance the GABAergic transmission in mature hippocampal neurons. We are now interested in the early stages of neuronal development, when the network is still growing. In fact, GABA represents the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult brain, but during early postnatal development, GABAergic synaptic transmission is endowed with excitatory and depolarizing activity, which is crucial for the proper brain development. Over a limited postnatal period there is a switch of the electrophysiological (depolarizating towards hyperpolarizating) and biochemical (Ca2+-mediated signaling) properties of GABAergic transmission. Even though the developmental-mediated GABA switch is well documented, little is known about signals underlying such process.

In this framework, our project aims at investigating whether MSCs or their by-products EVs might positively affect the development of the GABAergic transmission, and, in particular, the timing of the GABAergic switch, by mean of chloride and calcium imaging techniques, together with molecular and biochemical analysis. Results from this study will allow us to clarify the possible role of MSCs or their by-products EVs in such a critical process, whose alteration is involved in the pathogenesis of several neurodevelopmental disorders.


From July 2017, I will move to Canada, specifically to Montréal, where I will spend the last period of my doctoral studies with a research period at the CHU Sainte Justine-Université de Montréal, under the supervision of prof. Graziella Di Cristo. The research activity within the lab of the professor Di Cristo focuses on the development of GABAergic circuits and synapses in neocortex, trying to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this process, and how abnormalities during this event can lead to a significant cognitive dysfunction.



  • Intracallosal nNOS neurons co-localize with NK1 substance P receptor in the rat. Barbaresi P, Mensà E, Lariccia V, Desiato G, Fabri M, Gratteri S. J Comp Neurol. 2015 Mar 1;523(4):589-607. doi: 10.1002/cne.23695.
  • Unravelling Mesenchymal Stem Cell Signature In Regenerative Medicine. Genni Desiato, Morris Losurdo, Chiara Elia, Anna Saccomano, Silvia Coco. Frontiers in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research, 2017 Ebk Series – ebook chapter accepted for publication


  • Inflammation and Synaptogenesis: the role of IL6 in developing neurons. Fossati G, Mirabella F, Desiato G, Pozzi D. Poster Presentation at CNR Retreat – Pisa 13/05/15
  • Role of Inflammation in the developmental switch of GABA signalling. Desiato G, Mirabella F, Matteoli M, Pozzi D. Poster Presentation at 2nd PhD Students Meeting – Mario Negri Institute 2015
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell GABAergic Enhancement: a possible modulation in the GABA excitation/ inhibition shift. Desiato G, Matteoli M, Pozzi D, Coco S. Poster Presentation at FENS Forum Congress. Copenhagen 2016
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell – derived Extracellular Vesicles as possible modulators of the neuronal GABAergic Excitatory/Inhibitory shift. Desiato G, Elia C, Pozzi D, Matteoli M and Coco S. Oral Communication at International Symposium on Neurobiology – Joint meeting University of Milan Bicocca – University of Surrey, 2017
  • Role of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 6 in the control of the GABA switch in cultured hippocampal neurons. Desiato G , Mirabella F, Filipello F, Contestabile A, Matteoli M and Pozzi D. Poster Presentation at Humanitas Research Day – Rozzano May 2017