Michele Fornaro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


    Midwestern University
    Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM)
    Department of Anatomy
    Science Hall 542-I
    555 31st St.
    Downers Grove, IL 60515
    Office: (630) 515-6055
    Fax:(630)515-7199
    e-mail: mforna@midwestern.edu

 

EDUCATION

B.S.                  Neurobiology              University of Turin, Italy                     1999
Ph.D.                Neuroscience              University of Turin, Italy                     2007

RESEARCH SUMMARY

Adult peripheral nerve plasticity
Peripheral nerve damage is a common result of many injuries and disease states. While the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) regenerates spontaneously, the extent and the severity of the damage often lead to problems with both motor and sensory functions thus preventing a full recovery. Such a loss can have a severe impact on quality life for many patients. Therefore, a better understanding of the nerve regeneration mechanisms is necessary to establish more efficacious treatments. Our research model is the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). The sensory neurons, whose bodies are located within the DRGs, extend their axons out and innervate peripheral targets.  A peripheral nerve injury causes functional and morphological changes in the DRG neuronal population, ultimately affecting sensory transmission. Understanding exactly what changes occur and how these changes take place can help us develop ways of enhancing the process and stimulating healthy repair and functionality. In this scenario, my research broadly investigates the peripheral nerve plasticity associated with a nerve lesion. Our interests range from surgical approaches for nerve repair to molecular and physical cues that enhance axonal growth to the understanding how neuroinflammation plays a role in the nerve repair process. 

RESEARCH PROJECTS

Neuroplasticity of the adult dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) after peripheral nerve injury (axotomy) - Changes in the neuronal population in terms of the number and size as a consequence of peripheral nerve damage has been hypothesized, but not fully addressed. The aim of this project,  mostly conducted in vivo in rodents, is to investigate cell proliferation and progression through the neuronal lineage within the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) specifically as a response to a peripheral nerve lesion. Additionally, this study also addresses the important aspect of cell death (apoptosis). The aim of this project, mostly conducted in vivo in rodents, is to investigate cell proliferation and progression through the neuronal lineage within the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) specifically as a response.

Peripheral nerve regeneration & nerve repair - This field includes studies with an important clinical effect in microsurgery repair of damaged peripheral nerves. We have been studying nerve repair and axonal regrowth after injuries using different techniques for instance crush lesion, denervation, "end-to-end" nerve repair and use of biological scaffold (nerve, vein, muscle-in-vein) or scaffold made of biomaterials for nerve repair. As a second focus of this research project, our research group investigate axonal regrowth in vitro with specific emphasis on physical and chemical clues that may affect nerve fiber's regeneration. The study is conducted on DRG explants and primary cell cultures.

Neuroinflammation following peripheral nerve lesion - Axonal regeneration mostly takes place in a disturbed immune milieu and the axon growth is substantially modulated by immune factors. This project is aimed at enhancing axonal regeneration by regulating the expression of the different immune factors responsible for neuroinflammation that accompany peripheral nerve lesion.

Neuronal metabolism following viral infection - The nervous tissue is target for different viruses including herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).  The aim of this study is to investigate (i) the effect of viral infection in terms of neuronal metabolism and (ii) molecules involved in the virus entry in the neuronal body.

   

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (See full pubmed results)

1 Muratori L, Ronchi G, Raimondo S, Geuna S, Giacobini-Robecchi MG, Fornaro M. (2015) Generation of new neurons in dorsal root Ganglia in adult rats after peripheral nerve crush injury. Neural plasticity. 2015;2015:860546.

2  Jaminet P, Köhler D, Schäufele M, Rahmanian-Schwarz A, Lotter O, Fornaro M, Ronchi G, Geuna S, Rosenberger P, Schaller HE. (2013) Evaluating the role of Netrin-1 during the early phase of peripheral nerve regeneration using the mouse median nerve model. Restor Neurol Neurosci. Jan 1;31(3):337-45.

3  Porporato PE, Filigheddu N, Reano S, Ferrara M, Angelino E, Gnocchi VF, Prodam F, Ronchi G, Fagoonee S, Fornaro M, Chianale F, Baldanzi G, Surico N, Sinigaglia F, Perroteau I, Smith RG, Sun Y, Geuna S, Graziani A (2013) Acylated and unacylated ghrelin impair skeletal muscle atrophy in mice. J Clin Invest. Feb 1;123(2):611-22.

4  Jaminet P, Köhler D, Rahmanian-Schwarz A, Lotter O, Mager A, Fornaro M, Ronchi G, Geuna S, Rosenberger P, Schaller HE. (2013) Expression patterns and functional evaluation of the UNC5b receptor during the early phase of peripheral nerve regeneration using the mouse median nerve model. Microsurgery. Mar;33(3):216-22.

5  Casoni F, Hutchins BI, Donohue D, Fornaro M, Condie B, Wray S. (2012) SDF and GABA interact to regulate axophilic migration of GnRH neurons. J Cell Sci. 125(Pt1):5015-5025.

6  Vitale-Brovarone C, Novajra G, Lousteau J, Milanese D, Raimondo S, Fornaro M (2012) Phosphate glass fibres and their role in neuronal polarization and axonal growth direction. Acta Biomaterialia.  Mar 8(3):1125-36.

7  Forni PE, Fornaro M, Guénette S, Wray S. (2011) A role for FE65 in controlling GnRH-1 neurogenesis. J Neurosci. Jan 12;31(2):480-91.

8  Amado S, Rodrigues JM, Luís AL, Armada-da-Silva PA, Vieira M, Gartner A, Simões MJ, Veloso AP, Fornaro M, Raimondo S, Varejão AS, Geuna S, Maurício AC. (2010) Effects of collagen membranes enriched with in vitro-differentiated N1E-115 cells on rat sciatic nerve regeneration after end-to-end repair. J Neuroeng Rehabil 11:7.

9   Chiono V, Vozzi G, Vozzi F, Salvadori C, Dini F, Carlucci F, Arispici M, Burchielli S, Di Scipio F, Geuna S, Fornaro M, Tos P, Nicolino S, Audisio C, Perroteau I, Chiaravalloti A, Domenici C, Giusti P, Ciardelli G. (2009) Phosphate glass fibres and their role in neuronal polarization and axonal growth direction. Biomed Microdevices. 11(5):1037-50.

10  Musso T, Scutera S, Vermi W, Daniele R, Fornaro M, Castagnoli C, Alotto D, Ravanini M, Cambieri I, Salogni L, Elia AR, Giovarelli M, Facchetti F, Girolomoni G, Sozzani S. (2008) Phosphate glass fibres and their role in neuronal polarization and axonal growth direction. PLoS One 24; 3(9):e3271.

11  Amado S, Simões MJ, Armada da Silva PA, Luís AL, Shirosaki Y, Lopes MA, Santos JD, Fregnan F, Gambarotta G, Raimondo S, Fornaro M, Veloso AP, Varejão AS, Maurício AC, Geuna S (2008) Phosphate glass fibres and their role in neuronal polarization and axonal growth direction. Biomaterials 29(33):4409-19.

12 Fornaro M, Lee JM, Raimondo S, Nicolino S, Geuna S, Giacobini-Robecchi MG (2008) Neuronal intermediate filament expression in rat dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons: an in vivo and in vitro study. Neuroscience 153(4):1153-63.

13  Fornaro M, Raimondo S, Lee JM, Giacobini-Robecchi MG (2007) Neuron-specific Hu proteins sub-cellular localization in primary sensory neurons.  Ann Anat 189 (3):223-228.

14   Lee JM, Tos P, Raimondo S, Fornaro M, Papalia I, Geuna S, Giacobini-Robecchi MG (2007) Lack of topographic specificity in nerve fiber regeneration of rat forelimb mixed nerves. Neuroscience 144:985-990.

15  Fornaro M, Geuna S, Fasolo A, Giacobini-Robecchi MG (2003) HuC/D confocal imaging points to olfactory migratory cells as the first cell population that expresses a post-mitotic neuronal phenotype in the chick embryo. Neuroscience 122:123-128.

16   Fornaro M, Tos P, Geuna S, Giacobini-Robecchi MG, Battiston B (2001) Confocal imaging of Schwann-cell migration along muscle-vein combined grafts used to bridge nerve defects in the rat. Microsurgery 21:153-155.

17  Fornaro M, Geuna S, Fasolo A, Giacobini-Robecchi MG (2001) Evidence of very early neuronal migration from the olfactory placode of the chick embryo. Neuroscience 107:191-197.