What

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The focus of the research performed by the Molecular Neurology Unit concerns mechanisms of neuronal death in the context of neurodegenerative conditions like brain aging or ALS, cerebral ischemia, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  Specific emphasis is posed on excitotoxic conditions resulting from glutamate receptor overactivation.  Key factors leading to glutamate-driven neuronal death are loss of intracellular homeostasis for divalent ions including calcium and zinc, alterations of mitochondrial function, and consequent generation of oxidative stress as well as activation of apoptotic, necrotic, and autophagic pathways.  Over the years, our group has employed advanced ionic imaging and electrophysiological techniques along with genomic and proteomic approaches to provide critical insights on intracellular changes in living neurons exposed to excitotoxic challenges. These techniques have been employed in “in vivo” and “in vitro” models of neurological diseases.   Morever, our unit is involved in preclinical studies aimed at finding neuroprotective strategies in these conditions.  Finally, in recent years, we have also made use of pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological approaches to delay cognitive decline in aging individuals, MCI, and AD patients. To that aim, we have employed a wide range of techniques including proteomic, genomic, and neuroimaging (fMRI, MRI, DTI) approaches.  An ongoing collaboration with the UCI-MIND ADRC is focused at investigating molecular biormarkers of degenerative disorders and dementia in particular.