Veterinary Anatomy


Bruno Cozzi, Giuseppe Radaelli, Marco Patruno, Roberta Sacchetto, Cristina Ballarin, Lisa Maccatrozzo, Antonella Peruffo

Research topic


Within the Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, Veterinary Anatomy covers a wide range of topics including:

- neuroanatomy and development of the central nervous system (CNS)

- skeletal muscle structure, function and development

- functional anatomy of organisms living in the water (mammals, fish and invertebrates).

- therapeutic potential of stem cells

Neuroanatomy and development of the CNS Brain sexual differentiation is the outcome of a series of events starting with gestation and continuing for many species in the early postnatal period. Key physiological events occurring during fetal development include the structural specialization of the cerebral cortex and the induction of sexual differentiation in some specialized structures of the hypothalamus. To study brain sexual differentiation we developed an in vitro model based on primary cell cultures obtained from bovine brain. The experimental model that we propose may represent a standardized dynamic model that could be used to study cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the complex process of brain sexual differentiation. Based on the experiments performed in vitro, the enzymatic chain linked to the metabolism of neurosteroids was investigated also in the human and bovine brains. In these latter studies, specific enzymes and receptors were identified topographically and their ontogenetic role discussed comparatively.

Skeletal muscle: structure, function and development

- Characterization of myosin heavy chain isoforms in mammal skeletal muscles by several approaches (immunohistochemical, electrophoretic and molecular) in whole muscle and in isolated single fibres.

- Phylogenetic analysis on myosin isoforms in different species: a comparison among regulatory gene portions fundamental for the functional performances of the muscle in species of veterinary interest.
- Cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in human muscle remodelling induced by electrostimulation.

- Congenital Pseudomyotonia in bovine as experimental model for human Brody disease study. The mutation of ATP2A1 gene coding for SERCA1 is the cause of the pathology.

- Expression pattern of specific muscle growth factors during embryogenesis, growth and in different experimental conditions.

- Analysis of insulin like Growth Factors (IGFs) and Myostatin in different fish species of high importance for the aquaculture industry.

Functional anatomy of aquatic organisms The research activities related to this project are centred on animals living in the water. Research on marine mammals, fish and invertebrates therefore falls under a common heading. The Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science houses the Mediterranean marine mammal tissue Bank, a bank specific for marine mammal tissues that acts as a link between research groups active on stranded animals and scientists all over Europe and the rest of the world. The scientific personnel that cooperates with the bank is involved in several investigations dealing with the functional anatomy of cetaceans. On another level, some of the personnel of the Department are actively studying the differentiation, development and welfare of some fish and invertebrates and their relationship with the aquatic environmental conditions. Monitoring the health of the seas and oceans is a fundamental issue for assuring balanced environmental conditions also for organisms living on the shore (thus including humans and farm animals).

Therapeutic potential of stem cells The research on the therapeutic potential of stem cells is very popular also in Veterinary Medicine. The research group led by Prof. Patruno has characterized adult stem cells from blood of the horse and adipose tissue of the dog and showed that cryopreservation does not modify their “stemness” features; recent studies focus on evaluating the regenerative potential of stem cells for the regular dense connective tissue (tendons), in vitro and in vivo. The same research group furnishes a service for Veterinarians named “Stem Cell Delivery” dedicated to the analysis and cryopreservation of stem cells of several animals.