Valentina Di Felice
Valentina Di Felice
affiliation: Università di Palermo
research area(s): Experimental Medicine, Cell Biology
Course: Molecular and Experimental Medicine
University/Istitution: Università di Palermo
Assistant Professor in Human Anatomy, leader of the research group in "Cardiac Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine" working at the Human Anatomy Section of the BIONEC Department, University of Palermo, Via del vespro 129, 90127 Palermo, Italy. Tel.: 0039-091-6553575 E-mail:

*Master of Science in Biological Sciences (Laurea Magistrale) awarded from the University of Palermo the 21st July 1997 – First class honours (mark: 110/110 lode e mensione)
*Master in Immunology awarded from the University of Palermo July 1998
*Doctor of Phylosophy in Animal Biology awarded from the University of Calabria the 17th December 2005.
(For personal reasons I have been away from the academic world from the year 2000 to the year 2003.
*Medical Specialization in Virology and Microbiolgy awarded from the University of Palermo the 14th December 2008.

*Expert in Antropolgy in the Faculty of Sport Sciences of the University of Palermo, academic years 2003/2004 – 2004/2005
*Tutor for Human Anatomy in the degree course “Tecnici della Prevenzione negli Ambienti e nei Luoghi di Lavoro” of the University of Palermo for the academic year 2003/2004.
*Member of the examination commission of the following university courses: Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Techniques, Expert in Drugs, Biological Sciences, Laboratory Technician, School of Medicine.
* Tenure for the Human Morphology course of the “Corso di Laurea triennale in Logopedia” Faculty of Medicine, academic years 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009.
*Tenure for the Human Anatomy course of the “Corso di Laurea Specialistica in Farmacia” Pharmacy Faculty, academic year 2005/2006.
*Tenure for the Human Anatomy course of the “Corso di Laurea triennale in Informatore Scientifico del Farmaco” Pharmacy Faculty, academic year 2006/2007, 2007/2008.
*Tenure for the Human Anatomy course of the “Corso di Laurea triennale in Infermieristica”, School of Medicine, academic year 2009/2010.
*Tenure for the Human Anatomy course of the “Corso di laurea triennale in Biotecnologie”, School of Medicine and Biology, academic year 2010/2011.
* Reviewer of “Ministero della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica” for the Research Projects of National Interest (PRIN) 2009
* Tenure at the University of Palermo from 2010 for the PhD course in Experimental and Molecular Medicine of the BIONEC Department.
* PhD thesis supervisor for the PhD course in Experimental Medicine of the BIONEC Department.
* Thesis supervisor for the Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences.
* Thesis supervisor for the Master of Science courses in Biological Sciences and Pharmaceutical studies

* Tansformation studies laboratory, Ludwig Institute For Cancer Research, London, UK.
* Marine Biology laboratory, CNR (National Institute for Research), Mazzara del Vallo (TP), Italy
* Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia, Palermo, Italy.
* San Raffaele del Monte Tabor Institute, Milane, Italy.
* Animal Physiology laboratory, University of Calabria, Italy.
* Department of Histology and Medical Embryology, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

*International Cell Biology
*Journal of Cellular Physiology
*Gynecologic Oncology
*Stem Cells and Cloning: Advances and Applications journal

*American Heart Association, enrolled from 1 July 2005, as an Early Career Member, Premium Professional Member since July 2009. Protégée for the American Heart Association’s International Mentoring Program from October 2007 to July 2009. Actually enrolled in the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council.
*Italian Society of Anatomists since 2004
*Italian Society of Immunoistochemistry since 2005
*Stem Cell Research Italy since 2010
*ABCD since 2010
*PrometeoNetwork – Cardiac Stem Cells, University group of Palermo and Naples. A free Network
for Doctors and Researchers in Life Sciences!
* Chromogranin A derived peptides and their role in heart function and NO synthetase.
* Extracellular matrix – cell interactions and HSP90 and eNOS involvement.
* Replicative senescence and chlamydial infections. Chlamydia spp and its role in carcinogenesis and autoimmunity.
*CLA supplementation and strength development in human. Effects of CLA supplementation and exercise on mouse bone marrow.
* Cardiac Stem Cells, differentiation and tissue engineering for clinical application.
* microRNAs and heart development.
1. Chapter: Foreign body response to subcutaneously implanted scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering. Serradifalco C., Rizzuto L., De Luca A., Marino Gammazza A., Di Marco P., Cassata G., Puleio R., Verin L., Motta A., Guercio A., Zummo G., Di Felice V. In Disputationes, Editor Di Nardo Paolo, River Publisher (in press).

2. Effects of three different water temperatures on dehydration in competitive swimmers. Macaluso F, Di Felice V, Boscaino G, Bonsignore G, Stampone T, Farina F, Morici G. Sci Sports (2010), doi:10.1016/j.scispo.2010.10.004

3. Soccer players have a better standing balance in non-dominant one-legged stance. Barone R, Macaluso F, Traina M, Leonardi V, Di Felice V. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine 2011:2 1–6.

4. Adult stem cells, scaff olds for in vivo and in vitro myocardial tissue engineering. Di Felice V, De Luca A, Serradifalco C, Di Marco P, Verin L, Motta A, Guercio A, Zummo G. Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology 2010; 115:65-69.

5. Cytoskeleton mediates negative inotropism and lusitropism of chromogranin A-derived peptides (human vasostatin1-78 and rat CgA(1-64)) in the rat heart. Angelone T, Quintieri AM, Goumon Y, Di Felice V, Filice E, Gattuso A, Mazza R,Corti A, Tota B, Metz-Boutigue MH, Cerra MC. Regul Pept. 2010 Nov 30;165(1):78-85. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

6. Tetralogy of fallot as a model to study cardiac progenitor cell migration and differentiation during heart development. Di Felice V, Zummo G. Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2009 May;19(4):130-5.

7. OPLA scaffold, collagen I, and horse serum induce an higher degree of myogenic differentiation of adult rat cardiac stem cells. Di Felice V, Ardizzone NM, De Luca A, Marcianò V, Gammazza AM, Macaluso F, Manente L, Cappello F, De Luca A, Zummo G. J Cell Physiol. 2009 Dec;221(3):729-39.

8. Chlamydia trachomatis infection and anti-Hsp60 immunity: the two sides of the coin. Cappello F, Conway de Macario E, Di Felice V, Zummo G, Macario AJ. PLoS Pathog. 2009 Aug;5(8):e1000552.

9. Cardiac stem cell research: an elephant in the room? Di Felice V, De Luca A, Colorito ML, Montalbano A, Ardizzone NM, Macaluso F, Gammazza AM, Cappello F, Zummo G. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2009 Mar;292(3):449-54.

10. A comparative analysis of the products of GROEL-1 gene from Chlamydia trachomatis serovar D and the HSP60 var1 transcript from Homo sapiens suggests a possible autoimmune response. Campanella C, Marino Gammazza A, Mularoni L, Cappello F, Zummo G, Di Felice V. Int J Immunogenet. 2009 Feb;36(1):73-8.

11. Effects of water temperature on swimmers – Gli effetti della temperatura dell’acqua sui nuotatori. Macaluso F, Palumbo D, Barone R, Battaglia G, Farina F, Di Felice V. Capsula Eburnea 2008; 3 (8):1-5.

12. Upon oxidative stress, the antiapoptotic Hsp60/procaspase-3 complex persists in mucoepidermoid carcinoma cells. Campanella C, Bucchieri F, Ardizzone NM, Marino Gammazza A, Montalbano A, Ribbene A, Di Felice V, Bellafiore M, David S, Rappa F, Marasà M, Peri G, Farina F, Czarnecka AM, Conway de Macario E, Macario AJ, Zummo G, Cappello F. Eur J Histochem. 2008 Oct-Dec;52(4):221-8.
Project Title:
Cardiac stem cell-loaded poly-lactic acid and fibrinoin scaffolds as devices for cardiac muscle tissue regeneration
The rapid translation of preclinical cell-based therapy to restore damaged myocardium has raised questions concerning the best cell type as well as the best delivery route, and the best time of cell injection into the myocardium. Intramyocardial injection of stem cells is by far the most-used delivery technique in preclinical studies. We have recently demonstrated that c-Kit positive cardiac progenitor cells are able to organize themselves into a tissue-like cell mass in three-dimensional cultures, and with the help of an OPLA scaffold, many cells can create an organized elementary myocardium.
Our hypothesis is that synthetic scaffolds designed to deliver cardiac progenitor cells in the infarcted region of the heart may induce a better differentiation into cardiomyocytes.
Scaffolds for in vivo implantations are synthesized by Dr. Antonella Motta from the University of Trento. For the synthesis of PDLLA scaffolds, the Poly (D,L lactic acid) (RESOMER® 207, MW = 252 kDa) polimer is used (6.7%) in Dicloromethane/Dimetilformamide (DCM/DMF) 70/30 (v/v). The three-dimensional structure are obtained by salt-leaching, using NaCl crystals as porosity agent (NaCl < 224 μm and <150 μm). For the synthesis of fibrinoin scaffolds, degummed silk fibres are dried and dissolved into 9.3 m LiBr water solution (20% w/v) at 65°C for 3h. Scaffolds with different porosities, pore size, and properties are made by freeze-drying and salt-leaching. Scaffolds embedded with collagen I and cardiac progenitor cells are implanted in the subcutaneous dorsal region of athymic Nude-Foxn1nu mice.
Cardiac progenitor cells can differentiate into cardiomyocytes in vitro into PDLLA scaffolds in M-199 medium supplemented with 20% FBS within 21 days, while a foreign body reaction is observed in vivo. Some fibrinoin scaffolds do not induce a foreign body reaction.
In conclusion, these three-dimensional cultures may be used in the future as a biodegradable patch for the surgical repair of the heart wall or the infarcted myocardium.

Project Title:
Effect of conjugated linoleic acid on testosterone levels in vitro and in vivo
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effect of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation on testosterone levels in vitro on a cell line derived from leydig cells (R2C) and in vivo in the blood of physically active subjects before and after a resistance exercise bout.
In vitro: R2C cells are treated with different CLA concentrations (0-30 µM) for 24 and 48h. Following treatment, supernatant media are tested to determine testosterone secretion, and cells are lysed to determine the expression levels of Perilipin, Hormone Sensitive Lipase and several other proteins correlated to testosterone synthesis. The CLA only increased the testosterone secretion after 48h.
In vivo: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design, ten resistance-trained male subjects were randomised for 3 wks of either 6g/d CLA or placebo. Blood was drawn before and after each resistance exercise bout to determine the total testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels. After the resistance exercise bouts, CLA supplementation increased slightly total testosterone level (Effect size = small) and did not affect SHBG levels.
From our experiment, CLA supplementation induced an increase in testosterone levels in leydig cells in vitro after 48 h but not in vivo before and after a resistance exercise bout. These findings suggest that CLA supplementation may promote testosterone synthesis trough a molecular pathway which should be investigated in the future, although this effect not have an anabolic relevance in our in vivo model.