Valentina Murtaj


I was born in Croatia on 15th June 1990. After a bachelor degree in “Biology and molecular and cellular technology”, I graduated in 2015 in “International Master Degree in Neuroscience” at University of Trieste.  I worked on my master thesis in a Preclinical PET Laboratory situated in San Raffaele Hospital, in Milan, under the supervision of Professor Moresco. I worked mainly on validation of new potential radiotracer in neuro-inflammatory pathway involved in different neurodegenerative disease including Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, in specific on microglial cells.  After winning two-research fellowship at University of Milano Bicocca, I undertook the “PhD in Neuroscience” course at University of Milano Bicocca in 2017. My work is currently concentrated on investigation of new biomarkers involved in neuro-inflammation during aging and to study biological differences between genders.


Gender, age and metabolic dysfunction as risk factor for neuro-inflammatory pathology disease

Track: Experimental Neuroscience

Tutor: Moresco Rosa Maria

Aged and demented population represent the highly relevance for delirium appearance. Neuro-inflammation, involved in aging is one of the most supported by the literature. Microglial cells are activated by local and systemic inflammation and become primed (hyper-responsive) to small stimuli with aging, which can potentially cause damage and neuronal death. When an acute inflammatory stimulation occurs peripherally in a vulnerable individual, microglial cells become over activated and inflammatory mediators overexpressed in the CNS. Pro-inflammatory neurotoxins such as bacterial LPS strongly down-regulate TREM2 and the ability to microglial cells to phagocytose extracellular debris. The TREM and TREM-like receptor are expressed by a variety of innate cells of myeloid lineage including macrophages and microglia. There are also several risk factor than aging that could facilitate neurodegeneration development, including gender, lifestyle and presence of genetic polymorphism. Obese state is associated with chronic-low grade inflammation in which exposure  to free fatty acids initiates inflammatory signalling leading to immune cell infiltration contributing to inflammation state.

Aim of my project will be the evaluation of the effect of inflammation in sex and gender-related during aging and metabolic dysfunction in animal model and to better understand the role of TREM2 and TSPO as risk factor for inflammation and microglia activation, using PET imaging and molecular and cellular techniques.



  • Sara Belloli; Lucia Zanotti; Valentina Murtaj; Cristina Mazzon; Giuseppe Di Grigoli; Cristina Monterisi; Valeria Masiello; Leonardo Iaccarino; Andrea Cappelli; Pietro Luigi Poliani; Letterio Salvatore Politi; Rosa Maria Moresco “18F-VC701-PET and MRI in the in vivo neuroinflammation assessment of a mouse model of Multiple Sclerosis” . J Neuroinflammation,  2018 Feb 5;15(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s12974-017-1044-x.
  • Carpinelli A, Rainone P, Belloli S, Reale A, Cappelli A, Germano G, Murtaj V, Coliva A, Di Grigoli G, Valeri A, Gilardi MC, Gianolli L, Anzini M, Moresco RM. “Radiosynthesis and Preclinical Evaluation of (11)C-VA426, a Cyclooxygenase-2 Selective Ligand.” Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 2019 Sep 24;2019:5823261. doi: 10.1155/2019/5823261. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 31598112; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6778861.
  • Murtaj V, Belloli S, Di Grigoli G, Pannese M, Ballarini E, Rodriguez-Menendez  V, Marmiroli P, Cappelli A, Masiello V, Monterisi C, Bellelli G, Panina-Bordignon P, Moresco RM. “Age and Sex Influence the Neuro-inflammatory Response to a Peripheral Acute LPS Challenge.”Front Aging Neurosci. 2019 Nov 5;11:299. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00299. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 31749696; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6848890.
  • Belloli S, Morari M, Murtaj V, Valtorta S, Moresco RM and Gilardi MC. Translation imaging in Parkinson’s disease: focus on neuroinflammation. Front. Aging Neurosci. Review article. 2020 June 5 doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00152
  • Besusso D, Schellino R, Boido M, Belloli S, Parolisi R, Conforti P, Faedo A, Cernigoj M, Campus I, Laporta A, Bocchi VD, Murtaj V, Parmar M, Spaiardi P, Talpo F, Maniezzi C, Toselli MG, Biella G, Moresco RM, Vercelli A, Buffo A, Cattaneo E. Stem Cell-Derived Human Striatal Progenitors Innervate Striatal Targets and Alleviate Sensorimotor Deficit in a Rat Model of Huntington Disease. Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Apr 8. pii: S2213-6711(20)30108-9. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2020.03.018. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32302555.


  • Murtaj Valentina, Belloli Sara, Chiaffarelli Remy, Chaabane Linda, Canu Tamara, Marra Paolo, Esposito Antonio, Masiello Valeria, Coliva Angela, Malosio Maria Luisa and Moresco Rosa Maria”Metabolic dysfunction as risk factor for neuroinflammatory pathology disease” BraYn Conference (2°st brainstorming research assembly for young neuroscientist) 14-16 November 2019, Milan, Italy
  • Valentina Murtaj, S. Belloli, R. Schellino, M. Boido, C. Monterisi, C. Masiello, A. Vercelli, R. Moresco “Effect of the immune system on microglia activation and strategy to control neuroinflammation using innovative pharmacological treatment” NeuroMi 21-23 November 2018, Milan, Italy
  • Valentina Murtaj, S. Belloli, M. Vuozzo, S. Penati, M. Matteoli, V. Masiello, C. Monterisi, M., Malosio, R. Moresco “Metabolic dysfunction as risk factor for neurinflammatory pathology DiseaseNeuroMi 21-23 November 2018, Milan, Italy
  • Murtaj Valentina, Belloli Sara, Pannese Maria, Monterisi Cristina, Masiello Valeria, Gianolli Luigi, Panina-Bordignon Paola and Rosa Maria Moresco “Monitoring Neuroinflammation with the TSPO tracer [18F]VC701, after LPS systemic administration in male/female adult and aged mice” BraYn Conference (1°st brainstorming research assembly for young neuroscientist), 28-29 June 2018, Genova, Italy 
  • Di Grigoli Giuseppe, Sara Belloli, Murtaj Valetina, Cristina Monterisi, Masiello Valeria and Rosa Maria Moresco “Monitoring Neuroinflammation with the TSPO tracer [18F]VC701, after LPS systemic administration in adult and aged mice” NeuroMi , Milan, Italy 6-8 July 2016-POSTER
  • Sara Belloli, Maria Pannese, Raccagni Isabella, Di Grigoli Giuseppe, Murtaj Valentina, Assunta Carpinelli, Cristina Monterisi, Paola Panina-Bordignon and Rosa Maria Moresco “Molecular imaging of Microglia activation in response to acute neurodegeneration damage in TREM2 deficient mice” NeuroMi, Milan, Italy 6-8 July 2016-POSTER
  • Sara Belloli, Murtaj Valentina, Maria Pannese, Cristina Monterisi, Valeria Masiello, Paola Panina-Bordignon and Rosa Maria Moresco “Age and gender effect on the neuro-inflammatory respoce to a peripheral LPS inhection” San Raffaele Hospital Scientific Retreat, Baveno, Italy 10-12 March 2017-POSTER
  • Murtaj Valentina, Sara Belloli, Maria Pannese, Cristina Monterisi, Valeria Masiello, Paola Panina-Bordignon e Rosa Maria Moresco “Validation of neuro-inflammation through TSPO imaging using [18F]VC701 as radiotracer: sex and gender effect in a mouse model” 4° National Congress on Gender Medicine Padova, Italy, 27-28 November 2017-POSTER


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