Daniela Carulli

Visiting professor

Phone: +31 20 5665512



Daniela Carulli is focused on the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms of structural plasticity in the adult Central Nervous System (CNS). Structural plasticity is the ability of CNS neurons to remodel their connections in response to environmental stimuli or after damage. Plasticity is very limited in many areas of the adult CNS, decreasing progressively at the end “critical periods” of postnatal development. The plastic capabilities of neural circuits are determined by the balance between extrinsic inhibitory molecules and intrinsic neuronal growth properties. Therefore, defining strategies that allow the targeted modulation of these growth-regulatory mechanisms is crucial to improve plasticity, and, as a consequence, promote recovery following brain or spinal cord injury.

Specific research lines

1) Growth-inhibitory molecules of the extracellular matrix accumulate around the soma and dendrites of certain neurons during postnatal development, forming so called perineuronal nets (PNNs). PNN formation is a major event that contributes to the closure of critical periods for plasticity. Recently, the Verhaagen group together with Carulli found that the chemorepulsive axon guidance protein Semaphorin3A (Sema3A) is localised to PNNs, suggesting that Sema3A binding to PNNs may be a mechanism whereby PNNs restrict growth and plasticity. Aim of D. Carulli’s research is to elucidate whether Sema3A is an important functional attribute of the PNN, by investigating the effects of sema3A manipulation on cerebellar plasticity.

Carulli image

2) It is well known that early life experience, such as maternal environment and stress exposure, has a central role in susceptibility to psychopathology in adulthood. The effects of maternal care on PNN expression in the limbic system, neural plasticity and, in turn, anxiety are being investigated by Carulli, in collaboration with profs. Carola Eva and Annalisa Buffo (University of Turin).

3) Reggie-1 and -2 are membrane-bound proteins which are indispensable for axon regeneration of fish retinal ganglion cells following optic nerve injury. Overexpression of reggie-1 in retinal ganglion cells of rat, which normally show very poor regeneration, boosts axon re-elongation after injury. However, no data exist so far as to whether reggies play also a role in structural plasticity in the adult mammalian CNS. To address this issue, the effects of reggie-1 overexpression on morphology and plasticity of climbing and mossy fibres in the adult rat cerebellum are being investigated by Carulli, in collaboration with prof. Claudia Stuermer (University of Konstanz) and Paul Lingor (University of Goettingen).


Daniela Carulli was trained in Biology. She obtained a PhD degree in Neuroscience from the University of Turin (Italy), working in Piergiorgio Strata’s group, and received post-doctoral training in the laboratory of James Fawcett at the Brain Repair Centre of the University of Cambridge (UK). She was appointed as assistant professor at the University of Turin. She is member of the group “Neurobiology of brain plasticity”, headed first by Ferdinando Rossi and then Annalisa Buffo, at the Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri-Ottolenghi in Turin. She is currently a visiting scientist in the Laboratory for Neuroregeneration at the Netherlands Institute for Neurosciene, headed by Joost Verhaagen. She taught “Neuroscience” course at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Turin from 2008 to 2015.


  • Carulli D., Buffo A., Botta C., Altruda F., Strata P. Regenerative and survival capabilities of Purkinje cells overexpressing c-Jun. European Journal of Neuroscience (2002).
  • Andjus P.R., Zhu L., Cesa R., Carulli D., Strata P. A change in the pattern of activity affects the developmental regression of the Purkinje cell polyinnervation by climbing fibers in the rat cerebellum. Neuroscience (2003).
  • Buffo A., Carulli D., Rossi F., Strata P. Extrinsic regulation of injury/growth-related gene expression in the inferior olive of the adult rat. European Journal of Neuroscience (2003).
  • Carulli D., Buffo A., Strata P. Reparative mechanisms in the cerebellar cortex. Progress in Neurobiology (2004).
  • Properzi F., Carulli D., Asher R.A., Muir E., Camargo L.M., van Kuppevelt T.H., ten Dam G.B., Furukawa Y., Mikami T., Sugahara K., Toida T., Geller H.M. and Fawcett J.W. Chondroitin 6-sulphate synthesis is up-regulated in injured CNS, induced by injury-related cytokines and enhanced in axon-growth inhibitory glia. European Journal of Neuroscience (2005).
  • Carulli D., Laabs T., Geller H.M. and Fawcett J.W. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in neural development and regeneration. Current Opinion in Neurobiology (2005).
  • Milasin J., Buffo A., Carulli D., Andjus P. and Strata P. MAPK activation in cerebellar basket cell terminals after harmaline treatment. Annals of the New York Academy of Science (2005).
  • Carulli D., Rhodes K.E., Brown D.J., Bonnert T.P., Pollack S.J., Oliver K., Strata P. and Fawcett J.W. Composition of perineuronal nets in the adult rat cerebellum and the cellular origin of their components. Journal of Comparative Neurology (2006).
  • Deepa S.S., Carulli D., Galtrey C., Rhodes K., Fukuda J., Mikami T., Sugahara K and Fawcett J.W. Composition of Perineuronal Net Extracellular Matrix in Rat Brain: a different disaccharide composition for the net-associated proteoglycans. Journal of Biological Chemistry (2006).
  • Carulli D., Rhodes K and Fawcett J.W. Upregulation of aggrecan, link protein 1 and hyaluronan synthases during formation of perineuronal nets in the rat cerebellum. Journal of Comparative Neurology (2007).
  • Milasin J.M., Buffo A., Carulli D., Strata P. Intensive remodeling of Purkinje cell spines after climbing fibers deafferentation does not involve MAPK and Akt activation. Annals of the New York Academy of Science (2007).
  • Galtrey C.M., Kwok J.C., Carulli D., Rhodes K.E., Fawcett J.W. Distribution and synthesis of extracellular matrix proteoglycans, hyaluronan, link proteins and tenascin-R in the rat spinal cord. European Journal of Neuroscience (2008).
  • Foscarin S., Gianola S., Carulli D., Fazzari P., Mi S., Tamagnone L., Rossi F. Overexpression of GAP-43 modifies the distribution of the receptors for myelin-associated growth-inhibitory proteins in injured Purkinje axons. European Journal of Neuroscience (2009).
  • Carulli D., Pizzorusso T., Kwok J.C., Putignano E., Poli A., Forostyak S., Andrews M.R., Deepa S.S., Glant T., Fawcett J.W. Animals lacking link protein have attenuated perineuronal nets and persistent plasticity. Brain (2010).
  • Kwok J.C., Carulli D., Fawcett J.W. In vitro modeling of perineuronal nets: hyaluronan synthase and link protein are necessary for their formation and integrity. Journal of Neurochemistry (2010).
  • Foscarin S., Ponchione D., Pajaj E., Leto K., Gawlak M., Wilczynski G.M., Rossi F., Carulli D. Experience-Dependent Plasticity and Modulation of Growth Regulatory Molecules at Central Synapses. PLoS ONE (2011).
  • Carulli D., Foscarin S., Rossi F. Activity-dependent plasticity and gene expression modifications in the adult CNS. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2011).
  • Foscarin S., Rossi F., Carulli D. Influence of the environment on adult CNS plasticity and repair. Cell and Tissue Research (2012).
  • Vo T., Carulli D., Ehlert E.M., Kwok J.C., Dick G., Mecollari V., Moloney E.B., Neufeld G., de Winter F., Fawcett J.W., Verhaagen J. The Chemorepulsive Axon Guidance Protein Semaphorin 3A is a Constituent of Perineuronal Nets in the Adult Rodent Brain. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (2013).
  • Faralli A., Bigoni M., Mauro A., Rossi F., Carulli D. Non-invasive strategies to promote functional recovery after stroke. Neural plasticity (2013).
  • Carulli D., Foscarin S., Faralli A., Pajaj E., Rossi F. Modulation of semaphorin3A in perineuronal nets during structural plasticity in the adult cerebellum. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (2013).
  • Martone T., Giordano P., Dagna F., Carulli D., Albera R., Rossi F. Nestin expression and reactive phenomena in the mouse cochlea after kanamycin toxicity. European Journal of Neuroscience (2014).
  • Leto K., Carulli D., Buffo A. Symposium in honour of Ferdinando Rossi: a passionate journey through the cerebellar mysteries. Cerebellum (2014).
  • Vazquez-Sanroman D., Leto K., Cerezo-Garcia M., Carbo-Gas M., Sanchis-Segura C., Carulli D., Rossi F., Miquel M. The cerebellum on cocaine: plasticity and metaplasticity. Addiction Biology (2015).
  • Faralli A., Dagna F., Albera A., Bekku Y., Oohashi T., Albera R., Rossi F., Carulli D. Modifications of perineuronal nets and remodelling of excitatory and inhibitory afferents during vestibular compensation in the adult mouse. Brain Structure and Function (2015).
  • Vazquez-Sanroman D., Carbo-Gas M., Leto K., Cerezo-García M., Gil-Miravet I., Sanchis-Segura C., Carulli D., Rossi F., Miquel M. Cocaine-induced plasticity in the cerebellum of sensitised mice. Psychopharmacology (2015).
  • Oohashi T., Edamatsu M., Bekku Y., Carulli D. The hyaluronan and proteoglycan link proteins: organizers of the brain extracellular matrix and key molecules for neuronal function and plasticity. Experimental Neurology (2015).
  • Cupolillo D., Hoxha E., Faralli A., De Luca A., Rossi F., Tempia F., Carulli D. Autistic-like traits and cerebellar dysfunction in Purkinje cell PTEN knock-out mice. Neuropsychopharmacology (2016).
  • Miquel M., Vazquez-Sanroman D., Carbo-Gas M., Gil-Miravet I., Sanchis-Segura C., Carulli D., Manzo J., Coria-Avila G.A. Have we been ignoring the elephant in the room? Seven arguments for considering the cerebellum as part of addiction circuitry. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (2016).
  • de Winter F., Kwok J.C., Fawcett J.W., Vo T.T., Carulli D., Verhaagen J. The Chemorepulsive Protein Semaphorin 3A and Perineuronal Net-Mediated Plasticity. Neural Plasticity (2016).
  • Carulli D., Kwok J.C., Pizzorusso T. Perineuronal Nets and CNS Plasticity and Repair. Neural Plasticity (2016).