Conventional in vitro models used to study human tissue pathophysiology often fail to mimic in vivo relevant cell behavior. However, the development of novel in vitro models that can overtake such limitations are needed to move research from animal models to patients. This is particularly evident for skeletal muscle, where myofiber contraction and homeostasis is also guaranteed by the combination of a proper myofiber 3D organization and by the action of the nervous system. Skeletal muscle can be functionally compromised due to dysfunction of muscular and/or of neuronal components, as in neuromuscular diseases.
Our recently established group results from the multidisciplinary integration of different expertise in skeletal muscle and stem cell biology, extracellular matrix and biomaterial engineering. Our current research project aims at generating 3D models of human skeletal muscle equipped with a neuronal network. Such 3D in vitro models will be used to mimic the structural/functional properties of human skeletal muscle and neuromuscular junction, for the identification of cellular and molecular players involved in neuromuscular genesis and maintenance in healthy and disease.
Paolo Raffa PostDoctoral Researcher
Maria Easler Master Student
Raffa P, Scattolini V, Gerli M F, Perin S, Cui M, De Coppi P, Elvassore N, Caccin P, Luni C, Urciuolo A. Decellularized skeletal muscles display neurotrophic effects in 3D organotypic cultures. STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (2020).
Urciuolo A, Poli I, Brandolino L, Raffa P, Scattolini V, Laterza C, Giobbe GM, Zambaiti E, Selmin G, Magnussen M, De Coppi P, Brigo L, Salmaso S, Giomo M, Elvassore N. Intravital 3D bioprinting. Nature Biomedical Engineering (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41551-020-0568-z. Impact factor: 17.135.
Urciuolo A, et al. Decellularised skeletal muscles allow functional muscle regeneration by promoting host cell migration. Scientific Reports. (2018) 8:8398.
Urciuolo A, et al. Collagen VI regulates satellite cell self-renewal and muscle regeneration. Nat Commun, (2013) 4:1964.
Grumati P, et al. Autophagy is defective in collagen VI muscular dystrophies and its reactivation rescues myofiber degeneration. Nat Med, (2010) 16(11), 1313-20.
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