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Francesca Gelfo, PhD; Associate Professor
Department of Human Sciences; Guglielmo Marconi University; Rome; Italy ; Department of Clinical and Behavioural Neurology; IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia; Italy
Areas of Interest:
Alzheimer's disease; neurodegeneration; neuroprotection; behavior; brain reserve; environmental enrichment; neuronal morphology; basal forebrain cholinergic system; pharmacological agents; neurotrophins; animal models.
Biography & Research:
Prof. Francesca Gelfo carries out research activity since 2003 at the IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome. During her studies she carried out investigations on animal models and on human subjects, dealing with behavior and with the underlying brain structural, biological, and physiological processes. Prof. Gelfo main research topics dealt with the effects of experiential and pharmacological factors on the structure of the brain and its functions. Within these studies, Prof. Gelfo dealt with the biochemical, morphological and functional modifications of the brain in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease, based on the cholinergic depletion of the basal forebrain induced by stereotaxic neurotoxin injections. Still within these studies, she investigated the structure and functions of the cerebellum and its relationships with other cortical and subcortical structures, studying an animal model of hemicerebellectomy. Prof. Gelfo participated in numerous studies on these topics. In particular, she conducted analyses on the biochemical, morphological and functional changes of the brain induced by exposure to environmental enrichment. She studied the neuronal morphological changes induced by enrichment in rats healthy (Gelfo et al., 2009) and exposed to hemicerebellectomy (De Bartolo & Gelfo et al., 2011; Gelfo et al., 2016); she also investigated changes in brain levels of neurotrophins due to the enrichment in rats exposed to hemicerebellectomy (Gelfo et al., 2011a); recently, she made a synthesis of the evidence on the subject through reviews of the literature (Gelfo et al., 2018; Serra & Gelfo et al., 2018; Serra and Gelfo, 2019). In the described model of Alzheimer's disease, she was involved in the analysis of changes in brain neurotrophic levels (Gelfo et al., 2011b) and in neuronal metabolism (Gelfo et al., 2013) that are related to cholinergic dysfunction; she also assessed the neuroprotective effects of chronic lithium administration (Gelfo et al., 2017). In addition, she investigated the neuroprotective effects of the administration of a neuropeptide, the Neuropeptide Y (NPY), extending his research to stress-related disorders (Gelfo et al., 2011c, 2012). Furthermore, she also investigated the effects of NPY administration on neurotrophic levels in an in vitro model of Alzheimer's disease, based on the exposure to toxic concentrations of the fragment 25-35 of β-amyloid peptide (Angelucci & Gelfo et al., 2014). In addition to the studies on the animal and cell models, Prof. Gelfo also participated in numerous studies on the role of neurotrophins in human subjects in pathological conditions such as ketamine abuse, pathological gambling, post-traumatic stress disorder, aphasia and Parkinson's disease. The results of the studies described are the subject of presentations in international congresses and publications in international peer-reviewed journals, indexed in PubMed and in multidisciplinary databases.