Happy Holidays from the Meucci Lab!

Meucci lab members

Jared Luchetta

Jared Luchetta presented for the joint NIMH center seminar series

Jared was invited to present his research this month as a part of the 2021-2022 Joint National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) center seminar series! Jared discussed his most recent work in a talk titled: Examining how CXCL12 affects structural plasticity and cortical network function. The seminar series is organized by the NIMH administrative core at Johns Hopkins University, who also host previous talks from the series on their website.

Dr. Irollo promoted to Research Assistant Professor

This month, Dr. Elena Irollo enjoyed two outstanding events. She was promoted to a new position as a Research Assistant Professor in the department, and more importantly, she has tied the knot with her husband. Congratulations, Elena & Jonathan!

Elena Irollo

Meucci and Gaskill labs publish a collaborative review article

graphical abstract

Graphical abstract

Dr. Meucci and her former student Dr. Lindsay Festa collaborated with Dr. Gaskill and his former student Dr. Emily Nickoloff on a new review article discussing how HIV co-receptor signaling can contribute to HIV pathogenesis. The review article starts with a primer on HIV pathogenesis and the chemokine co-receptors that HIV uses to infect cells, and then thoroughly explores the signaling pathways downstream of HIV-activated co-receptors and how these pathways can contribute to HIV neuropathogenesis. The article ends with a discussion of treatment strategies based on targeting HIV co-receptors and their downstream signaling pathways.

The article is titled “Co-receptor signaling in the pathogenesis of neuroHIV” and is open-access and freely available in the journal Retrovirology.

 

cxcl12

Meucci lab publishes review on neuronal dysfunction in HAND

Simplified pathways that can contribute to dendritic spine deficits in HAND (left) and pathways that counteract these effects (right).

In a new review article published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, Dr. Meucci’s group discusses clinical evidence of disrupted neuronal connectivity in HIV patients and the molecular mechanisms that drive neuronal dysfunction and cognitive impairment in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.

The article is titled “Mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders” and is freely available here. For the PDF version, click here.

XJared

Jared Luchetta awarded neuroAIDS fellowship

Jared LuchettaJared Luchetta was appointed as a National Research Service Award (NRSA) pre-doctoral fellow on Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS. The training grant is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health as part of a long-standing collaboration between Drexel and Temple University investigators.

Congratulations Jared!

pathway

Meucci lab publishes book chapter on opioid regulation of neuronal iron homeostasis

The Meucci lab published a book chapter on known and potential opioid receptors bookmechanisms by which µ-opioid agonists regulate neuronal iron homeostasis, a new finding that has implications for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and other neurological disorders. The chapter expands on previous work from our lab showing that morphine regulates iron storage in endolysosomes, and this leads to dendritic spine deficits in cortical neurons. In addition, the chapter covers known and probable molecular mechanisms for morphine regulation of endolysosomal iron stores, implications for other iron-related proteins including amyloid precursor protein (APP), and a new approach to determine if µ-opioid agonists regulate APP expression or processing.

This chapter was published in the second edition of the book “Opioid Receptors”, and an illustration from our chapter inspired the book cover art. The book is a part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series.

The abstract of the book chapter is available here.

npj

Dr. Meucci contributes to article on links between COVID-19 and Parkinson’s disease

In collaboration with 15 researchers, Dr. Meucci contributed to a olimpia_meucciviewpoint article on how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be linked to Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism. The article discusses current knowledge and potential mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 may establish an infection in the brain, how brain infection might lead to clinical manifestations of Parkinsonism, and current clinical reports of movement disorders in COVID-19 patients.

The article is open-access and freely available at NPJ Parkinson’s Disease.

phl spines 2

New Meucci lab publication shows that a chemokine can enhance cognitive flexibility

DiI spines

DiI labeling of dendritic spines in the layer II/III prefrontal cortex.

The Meucci lab recently published a new study suggesting that learning and memory problems in patients with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) may be reversible. Using an animal model of HAND, Dr. Lindsay Festa and colleagues showed that treatment with the chemokine CXCL12 improved cognitive flexibility in a set-shifting task and increased dendritic spine density in the layer II/III prefrontal cortex, a critical brain area for flexible problem solving. CXCL12 treatment achieved these effects by activating a molecular signaling cascade via the small GTPase Rac1, which stabilized thin dendritic spines on cortical neurons. The study shows that CXCL12 reverses cognitive impairment in an animal model of HAND, suggesting that new treatments for HAND could exploit the CXCL12/Rac1 pathway in the brain.

This study is open access and freely available at eLIFE.