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Department of Neuroscience

Bruno Conti, PhD

Professor Emeritus
Department of Molecular Medicine
California Campus
Laboratory Website
(858) 784-9069

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Professor, Dorris Neuroscience Center
Department of Neuroscience
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Our laboratory is interested in the biological role of cytokines in the central nervous system and in the role of central thermoregulation in energy homeostasis and aging.

In particular, we are investigating the biology of interleukin 18 (IL-18) and of interleukin 13 (IL-13) in the central nervous system (CNS).  These cytokines can participate in local inflammatory processes affecting neuronal survival and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, since the IL-18, as well as the IL-13 receptors, is expressed in neurons, these interleukins can directly influence central functions and behavior. Using molecular techniques and animal models we hope to characterize the biology of these cytokines in the CNS and its significance in health and disease. For instance, we previously demonstrated that IL-18 participates in the regulation of energy homeostasis by influencing feeding and energy efficiency. We also recently showed tha the IL-13Ra1 system plays and important role in regulating the survival of dopaminergic neurons during neuroinflammation suggesting it may contribute to the pathogenesis or the progression of Parkinson's Disease.

In addition, the laboratory is also actively investigating the central mechanisms of thermoregulation and its involvement in influencing energy homeostasis, metabolism and aging. We showed that small but prolonged reduction of core body temperature prolongs lifespan. We are now actively investigating the mechanisms mediating these effects.


Ph.D., University of Milan, 1991

Awards & Professional Activities

Senior Scholar, The Ellison Medical Foundation

Selected References

Conti, B. & Hansen, M. A Cool Way to Live Long. Cell 152, 671-672 (2013).

Morrison, B. E., Marcondes, M. C., Nomura, D. K., Sanchez-Alavez, M., Sanchez-Gonzalez, A., Saar, I., Kim, K. S., Bartfai, T., Maher, P., Sugama, S. & Conti, B. Cutting Edge: IL-13Ralpha1 Expression in Dopaminergic Neurons Contributes to Their Oxidative Stress-Mediated Loss following Chronic Peripheral Treatment with Lipopolysaccharide. J Immunol 189, 5498-5502 (2012).

Dinarello, C., Arend, W., Sims, J., Smith, D., Blumberg, H., O'Neill, L., Goldbach-Mansky, R., Pizarro, T., Hoffman, H., Bufler, P., Nold, M., Ghezzi, P., Mantovani, A., Garlanda, C., Boraschi, D., Rubartelli, A., Netea, M., van der Meer, J., Joosten, L., Mandrup-Poulsen, T., Donath, M., Lewis, E., Pfeilschifter, J., Martin, M., Kracht, M., Muehl, H., Novick, D., Lukic, M., Conti, B., Solinger, A., Kelk, P., van de Veerdonk, F. & Gabel, C. IL-1 family nomenclature. Nat Immunol 11, 973 (2011).

Nomura, D. K., Morrison, B., Blankman, J. L., Long, J. Z., Kinsey, S. G., Marcondes, M. C., Ward, A. M., Lichtman, A. H., Hahn, J. K., Conti, B. & Cravatt, B. F. Endocannabinoid hydrolysis generates brain prostaglandins that promote neuroinflammation. Science 334, 809-813 (2011).

Tabarean, I., Morrison, B., Marcondes, M. C., Bartfai, T. & Conti, B. Hypothalamic and dietary control of temperature-mediated longevity. Ageing Res Rev 9, 41-50 (2010).

Cottone, P., Sabino, V., Roberto, M., Bajo, M., Pockros, L., Frihauf, J. B., Fekete, E. M., Steardo, L., Rice, K. C., Grigoriadis, D. E., Conti, B., Koob, G. F. & Zorrilla, E. P. CRF system recruitment mediates dark side of compulsive eating. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, 20016-20020 (2009).

Conti, B. Considerations on temperature, longevity and aging. Cell Mol Life Sci 65, 1626-1630 (2008).

Zorrilla, E. P., Sanchez-Alavez, M., Sugama, S., Brennan, M., Fernandez, R., Bartfai, T. & Conti, B. Interleukin-18 controls energy homeostasis by suppressing appetite and feed efficiency. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104, 11097-11102 (2007).

Conti, B., Sanchez-Alavez, M., Winsky-Sommerer, R., Morale, M. C., Lucero, J., Brownell, S., Fabre, V., Huitron-Resendiz, S., Henriksen, S., Zorrilla, E. P., de Lecea, L. & Bartfai, T. Transgenic mice with a reduced core body temperature have an increased life span. Science 314, 825-828 (2006).

Conti, B., Sugama, S., Lucero, J., Winsky-Sommerer, R., Wirz, S. A., Maher, P., Andrews, Z., Barr, A. M., Morale, M. C., Paneda, C., Pemberton, J., Gaidarova, S., Behrens, M. M., Beal, F., Sanna, P. P., Horvath, T. & Bartfai, T. Uncoupling protein 2 protects dopaminergic neurons from acute 1,2,3,6-methyl-phenyl-tetrahydropyridine toxicity. J Neurochem 93, 493-501 (2005).

Solforosi, L., Criado, J. R., McGavern, D. B., Wirz, S., Sanchez-Alavez, M., Sugama, S., DeGiorgio, L. A., Volpe, B. T., Wiseman, E., Abalos, G., Masliah, E., Gilden, D., Oldstone, M. B., Conti, B. & Williamson, R. A. Cross-linking cellular prion protein triggers neuronal apoptosis in vivo. Science 303, 1514-1516 (2004).