Bradley Nash and Olimpia Meucci recently published an article on the Society for Neuroscience website Neuronline breaking down the Meucci lab’s latest research on opioid regulation of neuronal iron metabolism. The article discusses why the lab was looking into opioids effects on iron, the results of our most recent study, and how the insights gained from the study may apply to several different neurological disorders. Neuronline works to promote learning and discussion of neuroscience topics and professional development of people working in the neurosciences.
Congratulations to Dr. Meucci, who has been elected as a 2019 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI)! Each year, the NAI elects a class of academic fellows whose innovations and inventions have made a positive impact on society. The NAI fellow is the highest level of distinction for academic inventors, developed to both honor their contributions and inspire the next generation of inventors.
The Meucci lab published a new review article that outlines the interplay between chemokine and opioid signaling and how these systems may regulate synaptodendritic damage in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The article begins with a brief discussion of synaptodendritic damage in HAND and presents a small study on region-specific synaptic damage in two animal models of HAND. This is followed by a section on the mechanisms by which µ-opioid agonists contribute to synaptodendritic damage, and a discussion on exploiting the CXCL12-CXCR4 chemokine signaling axis to guide new therapeutic approaches that reverse dendritic spine deficits in HAND.
This article is part of a special issue published in Brain Research called “NeuroHIV in the current era: mechanisms and comorbidities contributing to cognitive impairment“, for which Dr. Meucci served as the guest editor.
The full-text article is available at Pubmed Central.
Congratulations to Ipek Eralp, who won second place in the junior graduate students poster competition at Discovery Day 2019! Ipek’s poster was titled: Morphine regulation of the iron-dependent protein ferritin heavy chain in cortical neurons: is there a role for the divalent metal transporter-1?
For more information, as well as a complete list of Discovery Day 2019 winners, visit the Drexel Discovery Day website.
In collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Geiger’s lab at the University of North Dakota, the Meucci lab recently published a new study describing how iron contributes to opioid-induced morphological changes in cortical neurons. Interestingly, morphine caused the release of iron stored in neuronal endolysosomes to the cytoplasm, which led to a post-transcriptional upregulation of the iron storage protein ferritin heavy chain. Increased ferritin heavy chain levels in these neurons was associated with a reduction of dendritic spine types that are thought to play important roles in learning and memory. Morphine-mediated dendritic spine deficits and ferritin heavy chain upregulation were completely blocked by selective chelation of endolysosomal iron, suggesting that these iron stores could be a new therapeutic target for opioid-using people at risk for developing cognitive impairment.
The University of Bologna has awarded Drs. Meucci & Brandimarti a grant to support the DUniBo initiative, which aims to increase student-centered scientific collaborations and other types of academic interactions between the University of Bologna and Drexel University. This new award will support an approximately six-month project known as The Student Ambassador, where students from each institution will spend 8-10 weeks abroad under the guidance of a faculty mentor and a fellow local student. Interested applicants should contact Dr. Meucci (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Brandimarti (email@example.com) by February 25, 2019. Also see additional information.
Dr. Meucci has been selected by The National Institute on Drug Abuse for a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award for the research grant: Role of chemokines in neuronal function and survival. The NIH MERIT program comprises an initial MERIT award and the opportunity for a five-year MERIT award extension, totaling up to 10 years of funding. MERIT awards are designed to provide long-term, stable support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior, and are awarded to less than 5% of NIH-funded investigators. Congratulations to Dr. Meucci for this great achievement!
Congratulations to Lindsay Festa for successfully defending her PhD thesis titled: Defining the molecular pathways involved in CXCL12-mediated rescue of dendritic spines and cognitive deficits in an animal model of neuroHIV. The quality and impact of Lindsay’s work has been recognized both locally and internationally, as evidenced by three publications in high profile peer-reviewed journals, numerous awards and honors, and her participation in international meetings. Lindsay established new techniques in the lab to study cognitive impairment in HIV-transgenic rats, and visualize dendritic spines in different contexts, which have contributed to two additional manuscripts currently in preparation.
The Institute of Advanced Studies has invited Dr. Meucci to spend a six-week fellowship on campus in an effort to foster international collaboration and global educational initiatives. During her stay, she also presented a seminar entitled: “Three Key Questions on NeuroHIV: What is it? Why Should We Care? Can We Do Something?”
The award is given for first place in the platform presentation competition at Drexel’s Discovery Day. Lindsay’s talk was titled: The chemokine CXCL12 restores dendritic spine loss and cognitive deficits in a rodent model of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Drexel University College of Medicine
245 North 15th Street, NCB room #8221
Philadelphia, PA 19102
office phone: (215) 762-2597
lab phone: (215) 762 4138
fax: (215) 762-2299