Staff member

Rossella Castagna

Staff member publications

Castagna R, Maleeva G, Pirovano D, Matera C, Gorostiza P, (2022). Donor-Acceptor Stenhouse Adduct Displaying Reversible Photoswitching in Water and Neuronal Activity Journal Of The American Chemical Society 144, 15595-15602

The interest in the photochromism and functional applications of donor-acceptor Stenhouse adducts (DASAs) soared in recent years owing to their outstanding advantages and flexible design. However, their low solubility and irreversible conversion in aqueous solutions hampered exploring DASAs for biology and medicine. It is notably unknown whether the barbiturate electron acceptor group retains the pharmacological activity of drugs such as phenobarbital, which targets γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-type A receptors (GABAARs) in the brain. Here, we have developed the model compound DASA-barbital based on a scaffold of red-switching second-generation DASAs, and we demonstrate that it is active in GABAARs and alters the neuronal firing rate in a physiological medium at neutral pH. DASA-barbital can also be reversibly photoswitched in acidic aqueous solutions using cyclodextrin, an approved ingredient of drug formulations. These findings clarify the path toward the biological applications of DASAs and to exploit the versatility displayed in polymers and materials science.

JTD Keywords: behavior, receptor, visible-light, wavelength, Optical control

Castagna, R, Kolarski, D, Durand-de Cuttoli, R, Maleeva, G, (2022). Orthogonal Control of Neuronal Circuits and Behavior Using Photopharmacology Journal Of Molecular Neuroscience 72, 1433-1442

Over the last decades, photopharmacology has gone far beyond its proof-of-concept stage to become a bona fide approach to study neural systems in vivo. Indeed, photopharmacological control has expanded over a wide range of endogenous targets, such as receptors, ion channels, transporters, kinases, lipids, and DNA transcription processes. In this review, we provide an overview of the recent progresses in the in vivo photopharmacological control of neuronal circuits and behavior. In particular, the use of small aquatic animals for the in vivo screening of photopharmacological compounds, the recent advances in optical modulation of complex behaviors in mice, and the development of adjacent techniques for light and drug delivery in vivo are described.

JTD Keywords: brain circuits, circadian rhythm, in vivo photomodulation, in vivo technology, neuronal receptors, Architecture, Azobenzene photoswitches, Brain circuits, Channels, Circadian rhythm, In vivo photomodulation, In vivo technology, Light, Modulator, Neuronal receptors, Optical control, Optogenetics, Pharmacology, Photopharmacology, Receptors, Systems