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Antonio Piras


Postal address : Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society (NVS), H1, Division of Neurogeriatrics, Novum Pl 5 14157 Huddinge, Sweden

About me

I am a postdoc at the Karolinska Institutet (KI). Until May 2016, I was part of the Roche Postdoc Fellowship (RPF) programme (three years). The programme had been developed as collaboration between Roche pRED (Pharma and Early Development, Switzerland) and KI (Sweden). 

In my research career, I have always been fascinated by the mechanisms leading to neuronal death in neurodegenerative disorders. I have developed the specific interest in proteinopathy and I am currently working on human post-mortem tissues from the Brain Bank at KI to investigate potential autophagy-lysosomal defects in patients diagnosed with different tauopathies. Moreover, I am developing a cell model of tauopathy using human neuronal stem cell (hNSC) carrying a genome-edited tau (P301L) mutation to determine a functional correlation between phospho-tau accumulation and autophagy degradative pathway. In addition, I am using fibroblasts from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients carrying the APP Swedish mutation in order to understand if the skin could be used as a potential biomarker for AD.

Through my previous studies, I acquired a strong background in neuroscience, with my MSc course in Neurobiology and PhD programme in Molecular Medicine at the University of Turin. In those years, I investigated the mechanism of neuronal death in different mouse model of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and a retinal ischemia rat model. 


PhD in Molecular Medicine (2013) – Molecular Biotechnology at the Dept. of Anatomy, Pharmacology and Forensic Medicine, Univ. of Turin discussing a thesis about “Autophagy activation in neurodegenerative diseases”. Supervisor: Prof. Alessandro Vercelli.

June-August 2012: visiting researcher to Paola Arlotta Lab. Dept. of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, US. Supervisor: Prof. Paola Arlotta.

Master’s Degree in Neurobiology (2008) - Univ. of Turin; Lab. of Neuroanatomy and brain development, Dept. of Anatomy, Pharmacology, Forensic Medicine - discussing a thesis about “Transplantation of embryonic neural progenitor cells in normal and pathologic rat retinas“- Tutor: Prof. Alessandro Vercelli

Bachelor’s Degree in Biology (2005) – Univ. of Sassari; Clinical Chemistry Laboratory – discussing a thesis about “Benchmarking analysis of the quality control in clinical chemistry laboratory“- (Supervisor: Prof. Cherchi; Prof. Pettinato)

Research description

Postdoc Position at Karolinska Institutet (2016-current)

Project: Impact of tau phosphorylation on autophagy in neurodegenerative diseases. Karolinska Institutet - Alzheimer Disease Research Center, Stockholm, Sweden.

Supervisor: Prof. Caroline Graff (prof. of Genetic Dementia Research at Karolinska Institutet)

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Postdoc Position (2013-2016).

Project: Impact of tau phosphorylation on autophagy in neurodegenerative diseases. Karolinska Institutet - Alzheimer Disease Research Center, Stockholm, Sweden.

Academic Mentors: Prof. Caroline Graff (prof. of Genetic Dementia Research at Karolinska Institutet) and Dr. Annica Rönnbäck
Roche Mentors: Dr. Fiona Grueninger and Dr. Ludovic Collin (Senior Researchers at Roche).

Visiting researcher to Martin Graf and Christoph Patsch Lab Stem Cell Platform (January-March 2015).

Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development (pRED), Roche Innovation Center Basel, 4070 Basel, Switzerlan

Teaching portfolio

Karolinska Institutet

Lecture “Compromised Autophagy in Neurodegeneration” during the Neurogenetics Course 2016 (course leader: Prof. Caroline Graff)

Coordinator of the course “Neurogenetics” – 26-30th Sept 2016 (course leader: Prof. Caroline Graff)

Lecture in “Proximity Ligation Assay and Confocal microscopy” in the  Biomedicine Master course 2016 “Frontiers in Translational Medicine” 2016


University of Turin 

I have given several lectures and practical workshops in Human Anatomy courses in collaboration with different professors.

2011-2013 Nursing School, Univ. of Turin Medical School. (prof. D. Garbossa, prof. P. Panzanelli)

2009-2013 Master Degree in Biotechnologies, Scuola Universitaria Interfacoltà per le Biotecnologie, Univ. of Turin (prof. A. Vercelli)

2009-2013: Master Degree in Pharmacology, Univ. of Turin (prof. A. Vercelli A)

2009-2010: Master Degree in Physical Training, Scuola Universitaria Interfacoltà in Scienze Motorie (SUISM), Univ. of Turin (prof. A. Vercelli)


Autophagic and lysosomal defects in human tauopathies: analysis of post-mortem brain from patients with familial Alzheimer disease, corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy
Piras A, Collin L, Grüninger F, Graff C, Rönnbäck A
Acta neuropathologica communications 2016;4():22-

Expression of Muscle-Specific MiRNA 206 in the Progression of Disease in a Murine SMA Model
Valsecchi V, Boido M, De Amicis E, Piras A, Vercelli A
PloS one 2015;10(6):e0128560-

A beta 1-42 monomers or oligomers have different effect on autophagy and apoptosis
Tamagno E, Guglielmotto M, Monteleone D, Piras A, Ariano S, Vercelli A, et al

A beta 1-42 monomers or oligomers have different effects on autophagy and apoptosis
Guglielmotto M, Monteleone D, Piras A, Valsecchi V, Tropiano M, Ariano S, et al
AUTOPHAGY 2014;10(10):1827-43

Human mesenchymal stromal cell transplantation modulates neuroinflammatory milieu in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Boido M, Piras A, Valsecchi V, Spigolon G, Mareschi K, Ferrero I, et al
CYTOTHERAPY 2014;16(8):1059-72

Selective vulnerability of spinal and cortical motor neuron subpopulations in delta7 SMA mice
D'errico P, Boido M, Piras A, Valsecchi V, De Amicis E, Locatelli D, et al
PloS one 2013;8(12):e82654-

A ss 1-42-mediated down-regulation of Uch-L1 is dependent on NF-?B activation and impaired BACE1 lysosomal degradation
Guglielmotto M, Monteleone D, Boido M, Piras A, Giliberto L, Borghi R, et al
AGING CELL 2012;11(5):834-44

Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy
Klionsky Dj, Abdalla Fc, Abeliovich H, Abraham Rt, Acevedo-arozena A, Adeli K, et al
AUTOPHAGY 2012;8(4):445-544

Activation of autophagy in a rat model of retinal ischemia following high intraocular pressure
Piras A, Gianetto D, Conte D, Bosone A, Vercelli A
PloS one 2011;6(7):e22514-

Age related macular degeneration and drusen: neuroinflammation in the retina
Buschini E, Piras A, Nuzzi R, Vercelli A
Progress in neurobiology 2011;95(1):14-25