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Understanding the effects of inflammation on brain and behaviour

A tightly regulated relationship between the brain and the immune system is critical to maintaining brain health. Recent research has demonstrated that peripheral immune cells and signalling molecules interact with the brain not only during disease but also under normal healthy conditions, playing a role in the regulation of brain functions. This scenario raises an important question: can subtle changes in the peripheral immune system also affect behaviour?

In the last decade, several studies have found pro-inflammatory markers to be present in patients with major depressive disorder, suggesting a possible link between the two. In this project, we will use the zebrafish model to characterize the behavioural phenotypes associated with organ-specific inflammation induced by pro-inflammatory chemicals.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Luigi Margiotta-Casaluci - Luigi is a Lecturer in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Group Leader in the Department of Life Sciences, Centre of Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine. He is specialised in the quantitative bi-directional extrapolation of complex biological processes between zebrafish, pre-clinical mammalian species, and humans. His research focuses on understanding the multi-scale effects of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, and developing predictive models able to support drug safety assessment. In parallel with the drug safety research, Luigi is also interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying specific behavioural phenotypes. The Margiotta-Casaluci Lab is currently using the zebrafish model to study the effects of chronic inflammation on brain and behaviour. This research aims at generating novel mechanistic understanding that can potentially support the identification of more effective therapeutic strategies for patients affected by behavioural disorders. Since starting his independent group in 2015, Luigi secured external research funding as Principal Investigator from several public research councils (e.g. BBSRC, NC3Rs, European Commission) as well as industrial partners (e.g. AstraZeneca). His current research includes the following projects:  (2017-2021; BBSRC/AstraZeneca): Understanding molecular and phenotypic effects of cyclo-oxygenase inhibition in the zebrafish model.  (2017-2018; NC3Rs): Development of an Adverse Outcome Pathway for cardiotoxicity mediated by the blockade of L-type calcium channels.  (2018-2021; Brunel Isambard Award): Understanding the effects of chronic inflammation on brain and behaviour.  (2019-2022; H2020 European Commission): GOLIATH: Generation of novel, integrated and internationally harmonised approaches for testing chemical-induced metabolic disruption. Career 2020-to date: Group Leader & Lecturer, Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, UK 2018-2020: Group Leader & Research Fellow II, Comparative Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, UK 2015-2018: Group Leader & Research Fellow, Comparative Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, UK 2011-2013: Visiting Scientist, AstraZeneca, UK 2011-2015: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, AstraZenenca/Brunel University London, London, UK (funded by BBSRC/AstraZeneca). Education 2007–2011: Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology, Brunel University London, London, UK (supported by GlaxoSmithKline) 2003-2005: MSc Marine Biology, Universita’ Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy 2000-2003: BSc Biological Sciences, Universita’ Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy

Related Research Group(s)

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine - Interdisciplinary research into understanding the inflammatory and immune processes that underlie human health, disease and healing.


Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.


Project last modified 18/06/2021