• “Nanoglial interfaces: nanostructured materials, interfaces and devices to unveil the role of astrocytes in brain function and dysfunction”
  • Saracino, Emanuela <1988>


  • CHIM/03 Chimica generale e inorganica


  • The role of non-neuronal brain cells, called astrocytes, is emerging as crucial in brain function and dysfunction, encompassing the neurocentric concept that was envisioning glia as passive components. Ion and water channels and calcium signalling, expressed in functional micro and nano domains, underpin astrocytes’ homeostatic function, synaptic transmission, neurovascular coupling acting either locally and globally. In this respect, a major issue arises on the mechanism through which astrocytes can control processes across scales. Finally, astrocytes can sense and react to extracellular stimuli such as chemical, physical, mechanical, electrical, photonic ones at the nanoscale. Given their emerging importance and their sensing properties, my PhD research program had the general goal to validate nanomaterials, interfaces and devices approaches that were developed ad-hoc to study astrocytes. The results achieved are reported in the form of collection of papers. Specifically, we demonstrated that i) electrospun nanofibers made of polycaprolactone and polyaniline conductive composites can shape primary astrocytes’ morphology, without affecting their function ii) gold coated silicon nanowires devices enable extracellular recording of unprecedented slow wave in primary differentiated astrocytes iii) colloidal hydrotalcites films allow to get insight in cell volume regulation process in differentiated astrocytes and to describe novel cytoskeletal actin dynamics iv) gold nanoclusters represent nanoprobe to trigger astrocytes structure and function v) nanopillars of photoexcitable organic polymer are potential tool to achieve nanoscale photostimulation of astrocytes. The results were achieved by a multidisciplinary team working with national and international collaborators that are listed and acknowledged in the text. Collectively, the results showed that astrocytes represent a novel opportunity and target for Nanoscience, and that Nanoglial interface might help to unveil clues on brain function or represent novel therapeutic approach to treat brain dysfunctions.


  • 2022-06-22


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Saracino, Emanuela (2022) “Nanoglial interfaces: nanostructured materials, interfaces and devices to unveil the role of astrocytes in brain function and dysfunction”, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Nanoscienze per la medicina e per l'ambiente , 34 Ciclo.