Foto del docente

Monica Forni

Associate Professor

Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences

Academic discipline: VET/02 Veterinary Physiology

Research

Keywords: vascular biology inflammation animal models Quality Assurance of Higher Education

1- VASCULAR BIOLOGY: IN VITRO AND EX VIVO ANIMAL MODELS TO STUDY THE MOLECULAR BASIS OF PHYSIOLOGY AND CELLULAR STRESS

2- GENOMICS AND PROTEOMICS OF REPRODUCTIVE FUNCTIONS

3- QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGER EDUCATION



1- VASCULAR BIOLOGY: IN VITRO AND EX VIVO ANIMAL MODELS TO STUDY THE MOLECULAR BASIS OF PHYSIOLOGY AND CELLULAR STRESS

Experimental approaches:

Derivation of primary cell cultures from animal tissue (endothelial cell from aorta or from microvasculature of health or pathological tissues, fibroblasts from skin, staminal mesenchymal cells); study of physiological systems involved in pathologies development, mainly inflammation; assessment of in vitro and ex vivo animal models for human diseases; genomics and proteomics approaches specific for swine species.

Principal fields of research:

Endothelial cells are fundamental in inflammatory response organization and propagation and regulate vasoconstriction process, leucocytes adhesion, coagulation and thrombosis. These modifications are mainly due to the expression of pro-inflammatory genes in endothelial cells, coding for adhesion molecules, cytokines, chemokines, etc. the expression of so-called “protective genes” e.g. (HO-1), A20, NOS modulate the inflammatory answer.

The pig is worldwide recognized as the most important preclinical model for vascular diseases, so primary cultures of porcine Aorthic Endothelial Cells (pAEC) represent the principal research tool. Recently an interesting model for regenerative medicine has been settled up, a population of porcine aortic vascular precursor cells (pAVPCs), which and can be defined as a VSC-like population considering that they have MSC- and pericyte-like properties and, in addition to the classical mesenchymal trilineage differentiation potential, they have the capacity to differentiate in vitro toward the smooth muscle and the endothelial cell phenotypes.

The Biology, Physiology as well as dysfunction of vascular cells are studied in normal culture conditions as well as under stressors, in particular physical stressors, the bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and environmental stressors are investigated. Cell-cell interactions, biochemical and molecular markers, genomic and proteomic approaches, immunohistochemistry, functional assays, proliferation and apoptosis are evaluated. In these models also the potential protective effects of various substances are tested.

The generation of in vitro and ex vivo models represents a fundamental step in the research pathway that allows an efficient action of replacement, reduction and refinement before the in vivo animal experimentation that we frequently perform in collaboration with other research groups.

2- GENOMICS AND PROTEOMICS OF REPRODUCTIVE FUNCTIONS

Experimental approaches:

Molecular and biochemical analyses for reproductive and metabolic state and ethological and welfare assessment; evaluation of swine embryos gene expression; genomics and proteomics approaches specific for swine species.

Principal fields of research:

In the ovary, angiogenesis and angioregression alternatively appears. In this physiological model we study the phenomenon at gene expression and regulation levels. The maintenance of a correct ovarian function is undoubtedly related to the presence of a wide vascular bed that is able to sustain follicular and corpora lutea development. VEGF is the most relevant among angiogenetic signals. Its expression is regulated by many different signals. Hypoxia acts by HIF-1(Hypoxia-inducible factor 1) transcription factor induction and represents one of the most efficient stimuli together with vasoactive gaseous stimulus as CO e NO. The evaluation of the expression of HIF-1 as well as of HO (-1 and -2) and NOS enzymes, responsible of CO e NO production respectively, in relation to functional stage of ovarian structures are investigated.

3- QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGER EDUCATION

Since 2009 I'm part of the team of experts selected by European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education to evaluate Quality Assurance in Veterinary Medicine Establishments in Europe on the bases of Standards and Guidelines of ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education). Now I'm also member of Bologna University Quality Assurance Board and Expert of evaluation in the AVA system (ANVUR)

From these experiences derived a strong interest for research in the field of innovation in the teaching aspects and in the results obtained in enhancing quality of higher education.

In this period I'm part of a research aimed to evaluate differences in the learning experiences in two culturally different European universities, Bologna and Helsinki.  

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