STARS Grantee: Elisa Greggio

Stars UnipdProject: LRRKing


Elisa Greggio


Department: Biology

Total Contribution: Euro 139.848

Call: STARS-2017-CoG

Project Duration in months: 24

Start Date: 15/03/2018
End Date: 14/03/2020

Personal page


LRRKing - Role of the Parkinson’s disease kinase LRRK2 in shaping neurites and synapses

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. To date, Parkinson's is treated with symptomatic therapies based on the administration of precursors of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling motor movements, whose quantities are drastically reduced in Parkinson's patients as a consequence of the death of neuronal cells producing it. Unfortunately, there are no therapies able to slow down or block neuronal death and therefore no cure is available for this disease whose psychological, social and economic costs are very high.

Thanks to the project LRRKing, my research group had the invaluable opportunity to identify and characterize early, prodromal defects in nerve cells of genetic models of Parkinson's disease with mutations in the LRRK2 gene. We found that synapses - the communication sites between nerve cells - are altered in number and shape, and this happens long before neuronal death occurs. Contrary to neuronal death, which is irreversible, damage to the synapses could be repaired or mitigated through the action of trophic factors or by acting on cellular processes that are altered in the genetic models of the disease.

Thanks these results, LRRKing allowed us to forge new collaborations and apply to national and international funding, with which we hope to contribute in finding a cure for this devastating disorder.