PhysioNet Team Member

Stefania Zappettini

Stefania Zappettini, Postdoc


Phone number:
+33 4 91 29 98 11

I am a postdoc fellow in PhysioNet team since July 2013


Research Activities :

Caffeine and Pregnancy: A Potential Risk?

Who doesn’t appreciate a little caffeine pick-me-up now and then? If you’re pregnant, though, it remains unclear if the stimulant is safe for the fetus. My  research could clarify that. My lab discovered that, in mice, caffeine exposure led to seizures and long-term cognitive problems in offspring. Now, we aim to reveal more precisely how caffeine may affect the wiring of the developing brain—important information for public health, especially concerning the next generation.

We use in vitro ephy recordings (patch clamp) in slices  to determine transient alterations of GABA and AMPA signaling,  combined to morphology   for qualitative and quantitative analysis of Control vs treated mice.


Academic Achievements

  • March of 2012 Doctor in Pharmacology and Toxicololy, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy.
  • November of 2007 Degree in Chemicalstry and Pharmaceutical Technologies, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Genova, Italy.


Other professional activities

  • July 2013- 30th June 2015 Postdoctoral Fellow, AXA research fellowship at UMR INSERM 1106, Aix-Marseille Université 27 Bd Jean Moulin 13385 Marseille Cedex 05 France
  •  January 2012 – 30th June 2013 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy
  • January 2011 SUPPORT ACTIVITIES DURING THE TEACHING OF TOXICOLOGY (ARTICLE 33), Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy
  •  January 2009 – December 2011 PhD Course in Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy
  •  January 2008 – December 2008 scholarship fellow, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy


Research Publications

1. Fazeli W.*, Zappettini S.*, Marguet S., Esclapez M., Bernard C.# , Isbrandt D# . Early life exposure to caffeine alters neocortical networks in mice. Cerebral Cortex submitted 

2. Zappettini S .*, Grilli M.*, Olivero G., Chen J., Padolecchia C., Pittaluga A., Tomé A.R., Cunha R.A., March M. Nicotinic α7 receptor activation selectively potentiates the function of NMDA receptors in glutamatergic terminals of the nucleus accumbens. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, October 2014, Volume 8, Pages 332

3. Salamone A*, Zappettini S*, Grilli M, Olivero G, Agostinho P, Tomé AR, Chen J, Pittaluga A, Cunha RA, Marchi M. Prolonged nicotine exposure down-regulates presynaptic NMDA receptors in dopaminergic terminals of the rat nucleus accumbens. Neuropharmacology, April 2014, Volume 79, Pages 488-497

4. Salamone A, Mura E, Zappettini S, Grilli M, Olivero G, Preda S, Govoni S, Marchi M Inhibitory effects of beta-amyloid on the nicotinic receptors which stimulate glutamate release in rat hippocampus: The glial contribution. European journal of pharmacology, 2013

5. Govoni S, Mura E, Preda S, Racchi M, Lanni C, Grilli M, Zappettini S, Salamone A, Olivero G, Pittaluga A, Marchi M Dangerous Liaisons between Beta-Amyloid and Cholinergic Neurotransmission. Current Pharmaceutical Design [2013]

6. Zappettini S, Grilli M, Olivero G, Mura E, Preda S, Govoni S, Salamone A, Marchi M. Beta Amyloid Differently Modulate Nicotinic and Muscarinic Receptor Subtypes which Stimulate in vitro and in vivo the Release of Glycine in the Rat Hippocampus. Front Pharmacol. 2012;3:146. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

7. M Grilli, M Summa, A Salamone, G Olivero, S Zappettini, S Di Prisco, M Feligioni, C Usai, A Pittaluga, and M Marchi In vitro exposure to nicotine induces endocytosis of presynaptic AMPA receptors modulating dopamine release in rat Nucleus Accumbens nerve terminals. Neuropharmacology, Jul 2012;

8. Marchi M, Zappettini S, Olivero G, Pittaluga A, Grilli M. Chronic nicotine exposure selectively activates a carrier-mediated release of endogenous glutamate and aspartate from rat hippocampal synaptosomes. Neurochem Int. 2012 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:22417725[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

9. Mura E*, Zappettini S*, Preda S, Biundo F, Lanni C, Grilli M, Cavallero A, Olivero G, Salamone A, Govoni S, Marchi M. Dual effect of beta-amyloid on α7 and α4β2 nicotinic receptors controlling the release of glutamate, aspartate and GABA in rat hippocampus. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29661. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

10. Zappettini S, Mura E, Grilli M, Preda S, Salamone A, Olivero G, Govoni S and Marchi M. Different presynaptic nicotinic receptors subtypes modulate in vivo and in vitro the release of glycine in the rat hippocampus Neurochem. Int. (2011), doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2011.06.022

11. Zappettini S, Grilli M, Lagomarsino F, Fedele E, Marchi M. Presynaptic nicotinic 7 and non-7 receptors stimulate endogenous GABA release from rat hippocampal synaptosomes through two distinct mechanisms of action Plos One 2011published 08 Feb 2011 10.1371/journal.pone.0016911

12. Zappettini S, Grilli M, Salamone A, Fedele E and Marchi M. Presynaptic nicotinic receptors evoke endogenous glutamate and aspartate release from hippocampal synaptosomes by way of distinct coupling mechanisms 2010 Volume161, Issue 5, Pages1161-71

13. Grilli M, Lagomarsino F, Zappettini S, Preda S, Mura E, Govoni S, Marchi M. Specific inhibitory effect of amyloid-beta on presynaptic muscarinic receptor subtypes modulating neurotransmitter release in the rat nucleus accumbens. Neuroscience. 2010 Volume 167, Issue 2, Pages 482-99

14. Grilli M, Zappettini S, Zanardi A, Lagomarsino F, Pittaluga A, Zoli M and Marchi M.  Exposure to an enriched environment selectively increases the functional response of the pre-synaptic NMDA receptors which modulate noradrenaline release in mouse hippocampus J. Neurochem. Volume 110, Issue 5, 2009, Pages 1598-1606

15. Grilli M, Neri E, Zappettini S, Massa F, Bisio A, Romussi G, Marchi M and Pittaluga A. Salvinorin A controls dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline exocytosis from mouse brain nerve terminals by acting at different presynaptic k opioid receptors Neuropharmacology Volume 57, 2009, Pages 523–530

16. Grilli M, Zappettini S, Zoli M, and Marchi M. Presynaptic nicotinic and D2 receptors functionally interact on dopaminergic nerve endings of rat and mouse nucleus accumbens J Neurochem Volume 108, Issue 6, March 2009, Pages 1507-1514

17. Grilli M, Zappettini S, Raiteri L, and Marchi M. Nicotinic and Muscarinic Cholinergic Receptors Coexist on GABAergic Nerve Endings in the Mouse Striatum and Interact in Modulating GABA Release Neuropharmacology, Volume 56, Issue 3, March 2009, Pages 610-614

18. Grilli M, Patti L, Robino R, Zappettini S, Raiteri M, and Marchi M. Release-enhancing presynaptic muscarinic and nicotinic receptors coexist and interact on dopaminergic nerve endings of rat nucleus accumbens. J. Neurochem, Volume 105, Issue 6, June 2008, Pages 2205-2213

* All these authors contributed equally to this study. # All these authors contributed equally to this study.


PhD Thesis (2012): “Modulation of the functionality of the cholinergic system by β-Amyloid” Supervisor: Prof. Marchi. External revisers : Prof. S. Govoni e Dott.ssa S. Preda (University of Pavia); Internal reviser: Prof. E. Fedele (University of Genova).


Technical skills and competences

• Patch Clamp recording

• Immunohistochemistry

• Analysis of calcium transients from individual nerve terminals using fluorescence microscopy

• Methodologies for the study of the release of neurotransmitters in the brain tissue from different preparations in vitro

• Methodologies for studying presynaptic receptors and their interactions with each other

• surgical implants of osmotic pumps for chronic treatment with drugs

• Analysis of biological samples with HPLC

• Preparation and treatment of synaptosomes, gliosoms and slices of neural tissue

• Setting up and maintaining colonies of animals for neurochemical and behavioral studies

• Techniques for assay of protein

• Pharmaceutical preparations