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Giuliano Taccola

Spinal cord neurophysiology

Giuliano Taccola Researcher

Giuliano Taccola is an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Italy (ORCID: He is an established Principal Investigator, leading his own laboratory of Applied Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology at the Regional Spinal Center in Udine and collaborating with scientists worldwide to study the physiology of spinal motoneurons, the development and plasticity of spinal networks, their pharmacological and electrical neuromodulation, as well as the cellular, circuit and systems mechanisms at the base of spinal cord injury and other neuromotor disorders.

Taccola’s lab has a vast experience on in vitro spinal cord preparations isolated from neonatal rodents, performing intracellular recordings from single motoneurons using microelectrodes, AC- and DC- coupled recordings from spinal roots and peripheral nerves, and whole cell patch clamp recordings from spinal inter- and moto- neurons performed in current/voltage clamp modes. Since 2015, he researches also on preclinical animal models with and without a spinal cord injury, in a still ongoing collaboration with UCLA and the University of Leeds, where he worked from 2015 to 2018 with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Individual Fellowships ( This line of research combines cutting-edge in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology, neuropharmacology, multi-electrode interfaces and neuroprosthetics, and behavioural neuroscience.

As part of this collaboration, Giuliano Taccola explores new pharmacological and electrical stimulating protocols to restore motor functions in preclinical rodent models of spinal cord injury.

In the coming years, in vivo electrophysiological and behavioural assessments in preclinical models will be associated to in vitro recordings from reduced spinal cord preparations in order to: 


Further define the biophysical membrane properties of motoneurons during development, the organization of neonatal interneuronal spinal networks generating rhythmic activity and their pharmacological modulation.


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Explore the effects of passive training on spinal circuits, also comparing real locomotor training with a recently invented robotic device (BIKE, Bicycle Induced Kinetic Exercise) that reproduces a standardized hindlimb passive motion in the isolated spinal cord – leg attached preparation of neonatal rats.


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Limit the acute consequences of a spinal cord injury and support the recovery of functions in chronic spinal cord injuries, by associating innovative electro-stimulating protocols, stochastically modulated in both frequency and amplitude (noisy), with the design of innovative multi-electrode epidural interfaces for independent multi-site stimulation and recordings, and combine them with new pharmacological interventions.


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research summary

Neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of the spinal cord

The research interests of the laboratory are focused on the neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of the spinal cord, before and after lesion, with a particular emphasis on the functional organization of the neuronal circuits responsible for the generation of the locomotor rhythm (locomotor central pattern generator, CPG). The main scientific goal is to identify new experimental strategies to activate the CPG, in a perspective to propose new therapeutic interventions for the functional recovery of standing posture and deambulation after spinal cord injury.

Several innovative patterns of electrical stimulation have been devised in our lab by sampling the rhythmic noisy waves that appear during fictive or real motor patterns recorded, respectively, from the isolated neonatal rat spinal cord or from EMG recordings of lower limbs during real locomotion in healthy volunteers.

Their combination with pharmacological stimulation is a further aspect that our group is considering to synergize the performance of these protocol.

In collaboration with international partners, experts in preclinical rodent models, we are also assessing how different protocols of electrical stimulation or forced passive motor activity can modulate the hyperactivity of in vitro dorsal networks and thus alleviate the neuropathic pain associated with a spinal damage or with a lesion of the peripheral nerve.

The collaboration with young mathematicians is pursued in order to have available new methods of analysis to decipher how the noise contained in variable stimulating patterns can be beneficial to the activation of neuronal networks. Moreover, the development of always more sophisticated tools to quantify the degree of neuronal network activation is followed.

Joined projects with bioengineers are sponsored to develop new and more efficient devices for electrical stimulation.

The daily contact with clinical researchers of the IMFR supports the laboratory in focusing its studies towards the open questions in the neurorehabilitation of persons with a spinal cord injury and offers the possibility to translate the most promising observations obtained in our laboratory into clinics.

Selected publications

Experimental Cell Research. 2019,381: 121-128.

A "noisy" electrical stimulation protocol favors muscle regeneration in vitro through release of endogenous ATP

Bosutti A, Bernareggi A, Massaria G, D'Andrea P, Taccola G; Lorenzon P, Sciancalepore M.

J Neurosci Res. 2018; 96:889-900.

Histamine modulates spinal motoneurons and locomotor circuits

Coslovich T, Brumley MR, D’Angelo G, Della Mora A, Swann HE, Ortolani F, and Taccola G.

Prog Neurobiol.2018; 160:64-81.

And yet it moves: recovery of volitional control after spinal cord injury

Taccola G, Gerasimenko Y, Gad P, Sayenko D, and Edgerton VR.

Invited review to Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2017, 23: 1764-1777.

Multilevel analysis of locomotion in immature preparations suggests innovative strategies to reactivate stepping after spinal cord injury

Brumley MR, Guertin PA, Taccola G. 

Experimental Neurology. 2016, 286:1-11.

A new model of nerve injury in the rat reveals a role of regulator of G protein signaling 4 in tactile hypersensitivity

Taccola G, Doyen PJ, Damblon J, Dingu N, Ballarin B, Steyaert A, des Rieux A, Forget P, Hermans E, Bosier B, Deumens R.  

Experimental Neurology. 2016, 285:182-189.

Neuromodulation of the neural circuits controlling the lower urinary tract

Gad P, Roy R, Zhong H, Gerasimenko Y, Taccola G, Edgerton VR.  

Spinal Cord. Spinal Cord. 2016, 54:93-101.

Staggered multi-site low-frequency electrostimulation effectively induces locomotor patterns in the isolated rat spinal cord

Dose F, Deumens R, Forget P, Taccola G.

Neuromodulation. 2016, 19:38-46.

Electrical stimulation able to trigger locomotor spinal circuits also induces dorsal horn activity

Dingu N, Deumens R, Taccola G. 

J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2015, 36:349-357.

Extracellular stimulation with human “noisy” electromyographic patterns facilitates myotube activity

Sciancalepore M, Coslovich T, Lorenzon P, Ziraldo G, Taccola G.  

Neuromethods 2013, 76, 39-62.

Acute Spinal Cord Injury In Vitro: Insight Into Basic Mechanisms.

Mladinic M, Nistri A, Taccola G.

Neuroscience. 2013 Nov 12;252:144-53.

Schwann cell migration and neurite outgrowth are influenced by media conditioned by epineurial fibroblasts

van Neerven SG, Pannaye P, Bozkurt A, Van Nieuwenhoven F, Joosten E, Hermans E, Taccola G, Deumens R.

Neuroscience 2012, 222, 191-204.

A1 adenosine receptor modulation of chemically and electrically evoked lumbar locomotor network activity in isolated newborn rat spinal cords.

Taccola G, Olivieri D, D'Angelo G, Blackburn P, Secchia L, Ballany K.


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