ACTUALLY: Associate Professor of Biochemistry (BIO/10) of Biology and Pharmacy Faculty, at the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences from Oct. 2015, Cagliari University (Italy)

 CAREER HISTORY: Nov.08-Sept.15: Academic Researcher (RTI) of Biochemistry (BIO/10) of Pharmacy Faculty, and afferent to the Dep. of Applied Sciences on Biosystems merged in the Dep. of Life and Environmental Sciences. Sept.06-Nov.08: She took advantage of an Institutional postdoctoral research fellow of Cagliari University into the project “Structural and functional proteomic of the human saliva”. Dec.04-Jul.06: She performed research activity at the Dep. of Applied Sciences on Biosystems (Cagliari University) into the project “Purification and identification of the principal peptides and proteins of the human saliva, secreted by human salivary glands in basal conditions and after secretagogues drugs stimulation”. The project was financed by various research funding. Oct.01-Dec.04: She received a scholarship to frequent the Research Doctorate in “Human, Molecular and Animal Biology” of the Cagliari University. On December 1, 2004 she gained the Doctoral degree with the thesis: “Chemical-physical characterization of bioactive complexes peptide/metal”. Jul.01. Degree in Biology, grade 110/110 cum laude, with the experimental thesis: “Determination of the post-translational modifications of the acidic PRPs of the human saliva by HPLC-Mass Spectrometry”.

STAGES: December, 2001 – “Course of mass spectrometry into the study of the proteins and the oligonucleotides”. Tuscia Univ. and Italian Chemistry Society. March, 2003 – “Course of mass spectrometry for doctoral students”. Siena Univ. and Italian Chemistry Society. January, 2004 – “Refresher Course on Clinical-Diagnostic Applications of the Mass Spectrometry”. Catholic Univ. of Rome. July 2010 – Training course “Orbitrap Biotech Operations”. Thermo Scientific Training Institute.


The research is focused on the application of advanced mass spectrometry techniques (HPLC-ESI-IT MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, LTQ-Orbitrap) to study structural and functional proteomics of biofluids and cells for the biomarkers identification and characterization. Principal investigations were carried on new peptides/proteins and their post-translational modifications typically present in the human saliva by Top-Down mass spectrometry approaches and with multidisciplinary skills. These studies allowed establishing the different sources (glandular and not glandular) of the major peptides and proteins present in saliva and to evaluate how change qualitatively and quantitatively the proteome in relation to different physiological states (such as age and taste sensitivity). These studies have represented and nowadays represents the base for comparative studies including pathological conditions, not only localized in the oral cavity but also systemic. In fact, glandular salivary peptides/proteins share secretory mechanisms and enzyme pathways with other exocrine tissues, moreover many minor components of salivary proteome originate from serum exudates, linfocites/leukocites and epithelial cells. Actually proteomic and peptidomic changes have been evidenced in different pathologies studied (Autism disorder, Type I Diabetes, Down Syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, oral cavity tumors, Wilson disease, SAPHO disease, Schizophrenia) and in other under study (Immunological pathologies). These changes reflect the role of some proteins/peptides (such as S100 proteins, thymosin beta4, alfa-defensins, histatins, acidic proline-ric proteins, statherin) and of some enzyme pathway (Golgi-casein kinase) in the disease or in its complications. Proteomics/ peptidomics studies on tissues extracts, currently underway, combined with immunohistochemical ones, are addressed to characterize potential biomarkers of colo-rectal cancer in human, and in particular to understand the role of thymosins in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition of the tumor. Such as biochemical/immunoistochemical studies investigate the role of thymosin beta4 in the development of embrional tissues. Biomarker research was made also on BALF (BroncoAlveolar Lavage Fluid) and on cystic fluid of the craniofaringioma. The analysis of the BALF has evidenced in scleroderma patients a protective role of thymosin beta4 on pulmonary tissue but an inflammatory role of the oxidative derivative of the peptide. While in the preterm newborns with pneumonia a correlation between alfa-defensins and pathological state was found. An involvement of alfa-defensin in the immune response occurring during the formation of the craniofaringioma was also evidenced. An other research line interests the structural characterization of new salivary peptides with potential biological activity, not only in the human saliva but also in saliva from other mammals, in particular pig and rat. Among the peptides and proteins characterized, a specific antifungal activity was evidenced for a pig peptide (SP-B), when challenged with strains of Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus. Recently, a new member of the submandibular glutamine-rich protein family of rat was characterized and their susceptibility to transglutaminase action was studied. The relevance of the obtained results has permitted to publish these studies in international journals with high impact factor (90 publications, h index: 22, total citations: 1356), moreover, they have been diffused through the participation to international and national congresses, 51 and 50 abstract presented respectively.


 Partecipant to the project: “Pilot study of the salivary proteome for the detection of new biomarkers of Wilson’s disease”. (Prot. 4199). Funding project: Fondazione Banco di Sardegna, finanziamento 2013 per la ricerca di base Partecipant to the project: “Proteomic study of human saliva in pediatric age for the early diagnosis of congenital metabolic diseases”. (Prot. 7719). Funding project: Legge regionale 7 agosto 2007, n. 7: “Promozione della ricerca scientifica e dell’innovazione tecnologica in Sardegna” (2013)Principal investigator of the project: “Thymosin beta-4 colon cancer: immunohistochemical, biochemical and clinic study”. (Prot. CRP-60281). Funding project: Legge regionale 7 agosto 2007, n. 7 – “Promozione della ricerca scientifica e dell’innovazione tecnologica in Sardegna, (2012). Partecipant to the project: “Detection of biomarkers in the physio-pathology of the human reproduction and in the oncogenesis of the reproductive organs by proteomics and molecular biological techniques”. (Prot. 20105ZFB2H_003). Idoneous not financed by PRIN 2010-11. FIRB – Programma “Futuro in Ricerca” 2010. Titolo del progetto: “Obesità e percezione sensoriale: ruolo della composizione della saliva e individuazione di alimenti naturalmente dotati di potere appagante/saziante”. (Prot. RBFR10IEF4_002). Coordinatore Nazionale: Piombino Paola Progetto. Ruolo: Responsabile di Unità di ricerca. Non ammesso al finanziamento. PREMIALITA’.  Partecipant to the project: “identification, structural characterization and quantification of neuropeptides deriving from the protein VGF, by peptidomic approach”. (Prot. 2008PAPF78_002). Funding project: PRIN 2008. Partecipant to the project: “New functional biomarkers in the diseases of the nervous system”. Funding project: Legge regionale 7 agosto 2007, n. 7 – “Promozione della ricerca scientifica e dell’innovazione tecnologica in Sardegna, (2008). Legge regionale 7 agosto 2007, n. 7 – “Promozione della ricerca scientifica e dell’innovazione tecnologica in Sardegna, annualità 2008. Titolo del Progetto:”Nuovi Biomarcatori Funzionali nelle malattie del sistema nervoso”. Coordinatore del progetto: Gian-Luca Ferri. Ruolo: Partecipante nell’Unità coordinata da Irene Messana. Finanziato.  Partecipant to the project:Identification of new markers for the diagnosis and follow-up of autoimuune diseases”. Funding project:   Regione Autonoma della Sardegna: Programma di ricerca sanitaria finalizzata – (2005).


Italian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Italian Proteomics Association (ItPA).

European Proteomics Association (EuPA).


1 European patent: – ANTIVIRAL PEPTIDES: EP2667886 (A1) -2013-12-04; Application number: EP20120706686 20120130

2 Italian patents: – ANTIVIRAL PEPTIDES: WO2012101617(A1)-2012-08-02; Application number: WO2012IB50421 201201030

– ANTIVIRAL PEPTIDES: WO2012101616(A1)-2012-08-02; Application number: WO2012IB50419 201201030

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