Massimo Gennarelli
Massimo Gennarelli
affiliation: Università di Brescia
research area(s): Genetics And Genomics, Molecular Biology
Course: Molecular Genetics, Biotechnologies and Experimental Medicine
University/Istitution: Università di Brescia
1987 Degree in Biology, University of Urbino, Italy
1995 Research Doctorate in Medical Genetics, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
1999: Research Supervisor at IRCCS-Centre S.Giovanni di Dio, FBF, Brescia, Italy
2002: Medical Genetics Associate Professor - School of Medicine - University of Brescia, Italy
Research activity on the fields of genetics, biochemistry and pharmacogenetics of the main psychiatric disorders.
In particular: the identification of molecular (genetic, biochemical) markers associated with disorders diagnosis and treatment response. Specific areas of investigation have been: the role of immune system modulators and neurotrophic factors in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, major depression, and dementia; and action mechanisms involved in pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapy for these disorders.
1. Minelli A, Bonvicini C, Scassellati C, Sartori R, Gennarelli M. The influence of psychiatric screening in healthy populations selection: a new study and meta-analysis of functional 5-HTTLPR and rs25531 polymorphisms and anxiety-related personality traits. BMC Psychiatry (2011) 11:50.
2. Gennarelli M, Cattaneo A. Genetic variations and association. Int Rev Neurobiol (2010) 94:129-151.
3 Keers R, Bonvicini C, Scassellati C, Uher R, Placentino A, Giovannini C, Rietschel M, Henigsberg N, Kozel D, Mors O, Maier W, Hauser J, Souery D, Mendlewicz J, Schmäl C, Zobel A, Larsen ER, Szczepankiewicz A, Kovacic Z, Elkin A, Craig I, McGuffin P, Farmer AE, Aitchison KJ, Gennarelli M. Variation in GNB3 predicts response and adverse reactions to antidepressants. J Psychopharmacol (2010) Sep 8.
4. Bonvicini C, Minelli A, Scassellati C, Bortolomasi M, Segala M, Sartori R, Giacopuzzi M, Gennarelli M. Serotonin transporter gene polymorphisms and treatment-resistant depression. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry (2010) 34:934-939
5. Bocchio-Chiavetto L, Bagnardi V, Zanardini R, Molteni R, Nielsen MG, Placentino A, Giovannini C, Rillosi L, Ventriglia M, Riva MA, Gennarelli M. Serum and plasma BDNF levels in major depression: a replication study and meta-analyses. World J Biol Psychiatry (2010) 11:763-773.
6. Cattaneo A, Sesta A, Calabrese F, Nielsen G, Riva MA, Gennarelli M. The expression of VGF is reduced in leukocytes of depressed patients and it is restored by effective antidepressant treatment. Neuropsychopharmacology (2010) 35:1423-1428.
7. Cattaneo A, Bocchio-Chiavetto L, Zanardini R, Marchina E, Bellotti D, Milanesi E, Moraschi S, Calabrese F, Barlati S, Riva MA, Gennarelli M. BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and protein levels in amniotic fluid. BMC Neurosci (2010) 11:16.
8. Di Maria E, Bonvicini C, Bonomini C, Alberici A, Zanetti O, Gennarelli M. Genetic variation in the G720/G30 gene locus (DAOA) influences the occurrence of psychotic symptoms in patients with Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis (2009) 18:953-960.
9. Cattaneo A, Bocchio-Chiavetto L, Zanardini R, Milanesi E, Placentino A, Gennarelli M. Reduced peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA levels are normalized by antidepressant treatment. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol (2010) 13:103-108.
10. Minelli A, Scassellati C, Bonvicini C, Perez J, Gennarelli M. An association of GRIK3 Ser310Ala functional polymorphism with personality traits. Neuropsychobiology (2009) 59:28-33.
11. Bocchio-Chiavetto L, Miniussi C, Zanardini R, Gazzoli A, Bignotti S, Specchia C, Gennarelli M. 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met polymorphisms and response to rTMS treatment in drug resistant depression. Neurosci Lett (2008) 437:130-134
12. Scassellati C, Rotondo A, Bonvicini C, Rossi G, Cassano GB, Gennarelli M. Further evidence on the lack of association between glycogen synthase kinase 3beta gene polymorphisms and bipolar disorder. Psychiatr Genet (2007) 17:249-250
13. Sacchetti E, Bocchio-Chiavetto L, Valsecchi P, Scassellati C, Pasqualetti P, Bonvicini C, Corsini P, Rossi G, Cesana BM, Barlati S, Gennarelli M. -G308A tumor necrosis factor alpha functional polymorphism and schizophrenia risk: meta-analysis plus association study. Brain Behav Immun (2007) 21:450-457
14. Ventriglia M, Scassellati C, Bonvicini C, Squitti R, Bevacqua MG, Foresti G, Tura GB, Gennarelli M. No association between Ala9Val functional polymorphism of MnSOD gene and schizophrenia in a representative Italian sample. Neurosci Lett (2006) 410:208-211
Project Title:
Biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders
Biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders
Major depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders and it is a leading cause of disability worldwide. However, despite the increasing variety of antidepressant drugs currently available, only a third of patients respond adequately to treatment, and up to half of them relapse within one year. Unfortunately, we still cannot predict the likely of response of an individual patient. Therefore, there is a pressing need to identify predictive biomarkers of treatment outcome. In addition, establishing predictive biomarkers could also lead to the identification of novel patho-physiological pathways relevant for depression and thus novel targets for the development of new drugs.
The main aim of the project is to identify, through the integration of genetic data and biochemical and expression profile in the blood (serum and leukocytes), biomarkers associated with the treatment response and to achieve a better comprehension of the molecular and genetic basis underlying the pathogenesis of mood disorders.

Project Title:
Fibroblasts as peripheral model for psychiatric disorders
Fibroblasts have been proposed as useful peripheral model to model psychiatric disorders like major depression and schizophrenia. In fact, fibroblasts expression profile is similar to those found in neurons and recently it has been shown that these cells can be transformed into stem cells first and then in neurons, permitting the development of an in vitro system, obtained directly from each patient, able to model the pathology. Moreover, these cells can be easily treated with drugs, representing a novel personalized “in vitro” system to study the molecular effects of psychotropic drugs and to develop personalized pharmacological therapies.
During the project we aim to validate fibroblast cell lines both as a new peripheral model of psychiatric disorders and as a new in vitro model to study the effects of the psychotropic drugs. In particular we will identify genomic and transcriptomic pathways and bio-markers associated to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depression in fibroblast cell lines obtained directly from patients. Moreover will treat fibroblasts with the same drugs the patient is treated with to value patient specific modulations and to understand the mechanisms associated with the response/non response to that specific drug.