Luigi Zecca

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Luigi Zecca MD is a leading scientist in the field of neuromelanins and metals in the human brain. He has been visiting scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, NY, USA), at Dartmouth Medical School (Hanover, NH, USA), at University of Wuerzburg (Wuerzburg, Germany) and currently at Columbia University (New York, NY, USA). He has described with his collaborators key aspects on the structure, synthesis, interaction with metals and role of neuromelanins. In particular, he has shown that neuromelanins are ubiquitous in the human brain, occur in special autolysosomes and accumulate in aging. His studies have demonstrated a link between aging and neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease mediated by neuromelanin. He has also shown that neuromelanins can play either a protective or toxic role depending on the cellular context in brain aging and Parkinson's disease. He has described the paramagnetic and other physico-chemical properties of the neuromelanin-iron complex that are the fundamentals which allowed the development of magnetic resonance imaging of neuromelanin, which is nowadays used as new tool for diagnosis of Parkinson. He has found that neuromelanins released by degenerating neurons in Parkinson's disease can activate microglia which cause neuronal death and further release of neuromelanin, thus establishing a vicious cycle of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, that contributes to the progression the disease. He is currently interested in the structure and pathways of neuromelanin autolysosomal organelles in neurons during aging. Moreover, he is investigating contrast mechanisms associated with magnetic resonance imaging of the neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Interest areas:

Neurochemistry, neurobiology, brain aging, neuromelanin, neuromelanin-sensitive magnetic resonance, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, Parkinson's disease, magnetic resonance imaging.


Phone: +39 02 26422616
Fax: +39 02 26422660

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Cupaioli F.A.; Zucca F.A.; Caporale C.; Lesch K.P.; Passamonti L.; Zecca L.

The neurobiology of human aggressive behavior: Neuroimaging, genetic, and neurochemical aspects

(2021) in Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry
Capucciati A.; Zucca F.A.; Monzani E.; Zecca L.; Casella L.; Hofer T.

Interaction of Neuromelanin with Xenobiotics and Consequences for Neurodegeneration; Promising Experimental Models

(2021) in Antioxidants
Zecca L, Pifl C, Fahn S, Sulzer D, Fariello RG

Oleh Hornykiewicz, a giant in the understanding and treatment of Parkinson disease.

(2021) in NPJ Parkinson's disease
Cassidy CM, Carpenter KM, Konova AB, Cheung V, Grassetti A, Zecca L, Abi- Dargham A, Martinez D, Horga G

Evidence for Dopamine Abnormalities in the Substantia Nigra in Cocaine Addiction Revealed by Neuromelanin-Sensitive MRI

(2020) in The American Journal of Psychiatry (Greece Ed. select. articl.)
Sulzer D, Antonini A, Leta V, Nordvig A, Smeyne RJ, Goldman JE, Al-Dalahmah O, Zecca L, Sette A, Bubacco L, Meucci O, Moro E, Harms AS, Xu Y, Fahn S, Ray Chaudhuri K

COVID-19 and possible links with Parkinson's disease and parkinsonism: from bench to bedside

(2020) in NPJ Parkinson's disease
Segura-Aguilar J.; Sulzer D.; Zucca F.A.; Zecca L.

Overexpression of Vesicular Monoamine Transporter-2 may Block Neurotoxic Metabolites from Cytosolic Dopamine: a Potential Neuroprotective Therapy for Parkinson's Disease

(2019) in Clinical pharmacology and translational medicine Online
Monzani E.; Nicolis S.; Dell'Acqua S.; Capucciati A.; Bacchella C.; Zucca F.A.; Mosharov E.V.; Sulzer D.; Zecca L.; Casella L.

Dopamine, Oxidative Stress and Protein-Quinone Modifications in Parkinson's and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

(2019) in Angewandte Chemie (Int. ed., Print)
Barichella M, Severgnini M, Cilia R, Cassani E, Bolliri C, Caronni S, Ferri V, Cancello R, Ceccarani C, Faierman S, Pinelli G, De Bellis G, Zecca L, Cereda E, Consolandi C, Pezzoli G.

Unraveling gut microbiota in Parkinson's disease and atypical parkinsonism

(2019) in Movement disorders
Möller H.E.; Bossoni L.; Connor J.R.; Crichton R.R.; Does M.D.; Ward R.J.; Zecca L.; Zucca F.A.; Ronen I.

Iron, Myelin, and the Brain: Neuroimaging Meets Neurobiology

(2019) in Trends in neurosciences (Regul. ed.)
Cassidy C.M.; Zucca F.A.; Girgis R.R.; Baker S.C.; Weinstein J.J.; Sharp M.E.; Bellei C.; Valmadre A.; Vanegas N.; Kegeles L.S.; Brucato G.; Kang U.J.; Sulzer D.; Zecca L.; Abi-Dargham A.; Horga G.

Neuromelanin-sensitive MRI as a noninvasive proxy measure of dopamine function in the human brain

(2019) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Visualize all the publications (since 2016)