Hibernation is characterized by dramatic shifts in normal central nervous system (CNS) regulation of body temperature and normal sleep-wake state electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns.
Survival and recovery of function following ischemic injury (e.g., stroke) is significantly enhanced by the reduced metabolism and oxygen demands of ischemic tissue that result from lowering the temperature of ischemic tissue.
My research is focused on understanding (a) the intersection of CNS circuits regulating body temperature and sleep-wake state, (b) the CNS mechanisms responsible for alterations in thermoregulation and sleep-wake state during hibernation and torpor-like states, and (c) the application of this framework to the induction of therapeutic hypothermia, particularly related to improving outcomes in models of ischemic injury.
My research aims to test the hypothesis that a hibernation-like state can be replicated in non-hibernating mammals, and that the hypothermia and reduced cortical activity characteristic of the hibernating state will be therapeutically-effective in reducing tissue damage and loss of function following myocardial infarction, brain hemorrhage or brain ischemia. A greater understanding of the CNS systems regulating body temperature and sleep-wake state, and of the neuropharmacological underpinnings of hibernation is key to the development of pharmacological approaches to inducing a novel homeostatic state, featuring deep hypothermia and reduced cortical function that supports the maintenance and recovery of vital physiological functions. Comparing the regulation of body temperature, cardiovascular, metabolic, sleep and endocrine variables in normothermic and hypothermic homeostatic states will lead to a new vision of physiological regulation in deep hypothermia, which has the potential for enormous therapeutic relevance.
Currently I am pursuing studies on autonomic regulation (a) in the context of stroke pathologies, (b) to develop approaches for the induction of a deep hypothermia, and (c) to understand the basis for the thermally- and metabolically-shifted homeostasis of torpor-like states that might be inducible in non-hibernating mammals.
Overall, these studies on the CNS regulation of body temperature and metabolism, cardiovascular and cortical functions during normal, hypothermic and stroke conditions will indicate how these functions are dysregulated following stroke, and how we can ameliorate these dysfunctions. Additionally, an increased knowledge about autonomic regulation during deep hypothermia will suggest approaches to manage the induction, maintenance and recovery from deep hypothermia under normal and pathological conditions.
News Items of Interest
2016 Italo-Americano, Domenico Tupone, PhD: Researching Therapeutic Hypothermia for Better Stroke Treatment by Kerry-Lynne Demarinis
2015 Mezz'ora al TG Canale 21, Ibernazione by Cristina Barone
2014 Digital Journal: Cryogenic success using rats by Tim Sandle
2013 Science News: Rats induced into hibernation-like state by Laura Senders
- Ph.D., Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Bologna Italy 2010
- M.S., Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Bologna Italy 2006
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