Pietro Calissano

Nerve Growth Factor



Biografical sketch

Pietro Calissano, born in Genova, obtained a degree in Medicine magna cum laude in 1964 at the University of Genova. In 1965 he was invited by Rita Levi-Montalcini to join the Centre of Neurobiology she had created in Rome.

The following year he moved to Washington University of Saint Louis, where he spent two years, to work under the guidance of Levi-Montalcini on the mechanism of action of NGF.

In subsequent years Calissano spent several long-term stages in Cambridge, England, at the Weizman Institute, Israel and at Harvard Medical School, working on NGF, on the brain specific protein S-100 and on some other neurobiological problems connected with neurotrophins and their mechanism of action.

In 1986 Calissano became full professor of  Neurophysiology at the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ and in 1988 was nominated director of the Institute of Neurobiology of CNR, which he guided  until 2008. Calissano is member of the European Molecular Biology organization (EMBO), the Italian Academy of Sciences, and of the Scientific Committee of the Istituto Italiano dell’Istituto Treccani for which has directed or collaborated in several encyclopedias edited by this prestigious institution.

He has been  recipient  of several awards such as Feltrinelli prize, Accademia delle Scienze,  Neuburgh prize.  He is author of some books of divulgation, (Cervello mente ed evoluzione, Garzanti; il problema cervello/mente il Melangolo) and has written several  scientific articles in Italian newpapers such  as La Repubblica e La Stampa.  Calissano is presently  vice president of the EBRI.


Selected Publication

  1. Amadoro,G. Serafino,AL, Barbato,C. Ciotti,MT, Sacco,A. Calissano,P. and Canu,N.  Role of N-terminal tau domain integrity on the survival of cerebellar granule neurons.  Cell Death and Differentiation(2004) 11,217-230
  2.  Amadoro,G. Ciotti,M.T. Costanzi,M. Cestari,V. Calissano,P. and Canu,N: (2006) NMDA receptor mediates tau-induced neurotoxicity by calpain and ERK/MAPK activation. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA. 103, 2892-28
  3. Matrone,C. Di Luzio,A. Meli,G. D’Aguanno,S. Severini, C. Ciotti,M.T. Cattaneo,A. and Calissano,P. A(2008) Activation of the amyloidogenic route by NGF deprivation induces apoptotic death in PC12 cells. J.Alzheimer disease, 13,81-96
  4. Matrone.C. Ciotti,MT, Mercanti D, Marolda R. and Calissano,P  (2008)  NGF and BDNF signalling control amyloidogenic route and A-beta production in hippocampal neurons.  Proc. Natl. Acad, Sci USA. Sep2; 105(35): 13139-44 Epub 2008 Aug 26
  5. Matrone,C.Marolda, R. Ciaffrè,S. Ciotti,M,T. Mercanti,d: and Calissano,P, (2009) Tyrosine kinase nerve growth factor receptor switches from prosurvival to proapoptotic activity via Abeta-mediated phosphorylation  Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 106,11358.-11363.
  6. P.Calissano,G.Amadoro,C.Matrone,S.Ciaffrè, R.Marolda, V.Corsetti, MT Ciotti, D.Mercanti, A.Di Luzio, C.Severini,C.Provenzano,and N.Canu. Does the term Trophic actually mean antiamyloidogenic? The case of NGF.  Cell death and Differentiation(2010) 1-8
  7. Amadoro G, Corsetti V, Stringaro A, Colone M, D'Aguanno S, Meli G, Ciotti M, Sancesario G, Cattaneo A, Bussani R, Mercanti D, Calissano P.  A NH2 tau fragment  targets neuronal mitochondria at AD synapses: possible implications for neurodegeneration. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;21(2):445-70
  8. Calissano P, Matrone C, Amadoro G. Nerve growth factor as a paradigm of neurotrophins related to Alzheimer's disease. Dev Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;70(5):372-83.
  9. Pieri M, Amadoro G, Carunchio I, Ciotti MT, Quaresima S, Florenzano F, Calissano P, Possenti R, Zona C, Severini C. SP protects cerebellar granule cells against beta-amyloid-induced apoptosis by down-regulation and reduced activity of Kv4 potassium channels. Neuropharmacology. 2010 Jan;58(1):268-76