LTTA logo

Industrial Research and Technology Transfer Laboratory accredited by Emilia Romagna Region (DGR 1213/2007) with Deliberation n.GPG/2012/119 of February 6, 2012.

Tecnopolo logo

Rete Alta Tecnologia
UniFE logo

Animal Facility

  • Areas of expertise

    The Animal Facility research group has many years of expertise in the field of pre-clinical biomedical research on mouse and rat animal models (our numerous publications in international scientific journals are listed in the Publications section), particularly for neurodegenerative diseases. Our technical and scientific expertise can help design studies aimed at evaluating the effects of various advanced treatments (molecules, cells). These studies may be conducted ex vivo (in primary cultures) and/or in vivo (after treatment using various administration routes - i.p., i.v. or i.c.v.).

    We carry out studies on gene and protein expression, and evaluation of cell proliferation and death. Moreover, our unit has technical and scientific expertise in in vivo brain microdialysis. In neurodegenerative disease research, microdialysis offers the possibility of evaluating the neurochemical counterpart of various behaviour patterns secondary to an illness or drug treatment. In particular, this technique allows evaluating the levels of extracellular neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate and GABA) and other endogenous compounds in specific brain areas.

    Our unit currently comprises the housing room and some laboratories of the Pharmacology department where we are able to conduct projects involving a limited number of animals (rats and mice). One of the laboratories is used for in vivo models, with two stereotaxic units for brain surgery procedures; the other laboratory has microtome and cryostat equipment for cutting histological sections which are used for all the colorimetric, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry assays, cell degeneration assays, and in situ hybridisation for detecting levels of expression of specific mRNAs. After histological sections have been viewed under the microscope, the images can be analysed. We also have a laboratory equipped for performing implantation surgery of brain dialysis probes (mice and rats) and for obtaining samples from freely-moving animals; a further laboratory is used for assaying neurotransmitters and/or substances derived from brain dialysate.

    • The primary purpose of the Animal Facility service is to support companies and research institutions by having available an area for raising and caring for small animals (rodents such as rats, mice and guinea pigs, even rabbits), in order to offer suitably equipped laboratories to perform the surgical procedures necessary for preparing animal models of disease, and for in vitro and/or in vivo preclinical experiments. In particular, the research objectives are geared towards numerous problems in the neurological, cardiovascular and haemato-oncological fields in collaboration with other services of the LTTA. The Animal Facility is a valuable resource for researchers engaged in various types of projects involving animal models, especially in studies that involve the use of genetically modified animals.

    • In the field of advanced therapies, the in vivo preclinical studies stage is of fundamental importance. This is how the Animal Facility came about, to house, look after and rear laboratory animals for experimental purposes, in premises designed and built to the highest standards.

      The service currently uses some laboratories in the Pharmacology section, and is involved in evaluating the therapeutic and cellular effects of drug treatments in animal models of disease, using a number of different methods of administration (intraperitoneal, intravenous, intracerebroventricular) and in primary ex vivo cultures, offering the evaluation of different parameters such as:

      • phenotypic cell markers;
      • cellular proliferation, after in vivo labelling with BrdU;
      • cell degeneration (stainings such as Fluoro-Jade, Propidium Iodide, Silver Staining, Hoechst 33342);
      • protein expression of specific antigens through immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence assays on cell cultures, primary cultures and histological sections;
      • genic expression by in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR;
      • measurement of neurotransmitter levels and other biological markers in the brain;
      • laser microdissection of cells or group of cells for genomic, trascriptomic and proteomic analysis.
  • Main equipment

    Special instruments will be placed in the Animal Facility, which will be designed and constructed to the highest standards for research to ensure the animals’ welfare.

    The instruments (currently in the Pharmacology laboratories) used for carrying out work relating to the use of animal models and preclinical study into the efficacy of specific advanced therapies are the following:

    • Stoelting digital stereotaxic instrument for mice and rats
    • Automatic tissue processor for histology, suitable for processing of histological samples VTP300 Bio-Optica plus paraffin dispenser model DP500 Bio-Optica used for paraffin inclusion of histological samples
    • Leica microtome
    • Leica cryostat
    • Incubator and laminar flow hoods
    • Leica DMRA2 fluorescence microscope
    • Fluorescence microscope and Laser Microdissection system Leica LMD6000B
    • MCID Image analysis
    • Two Beckman Coulter (System Gold) HPLC systems fluorometric (Shimadzu; Jasko FP-2020) and UV (Beckman-Coulter, System Gold 166) detectors with autosamplers (Triathlon 900)
  • Contacts


    Animal Facility
    Laboratorio centralizzato di ricerca preclinica (LARP)
    Università degli Studi di Ferrara
    via Fossato di Mortara 27 - 44121 Ferrara

    Technical Director

    Prof. Michele Simonato
    +39 0532 455856

    Contact Person

    Dr Silvia Zucchini (Ph.D.)
    +39 0532 455855


    Prof. Luca Nicola Ferraro
    Prof. Peggy Marconi
    Prof. Matteo Marti
    Dr Chiara Ruzza

    The work of our staff includes:

    1. rearing and looking after small animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits;
    2. rearing and looking after mutant colonies (transgenic and knockout);
    3. surgical procedures, anaesthesia and surgical support;
    4. creating animal models of disease;
    5. analysis of genotypes and phenotypes (histology, behaviour);
    6. in vitro (ex vivo) and in vivo pharmacological studies.

    The members of staff keep up to date with the latest scientific and technical developments, to ensure they are able to provide the highest quality service.

  • Publications

    Beggiato S, Cassano T, Ferraro L, Tomasini MC. Astrocytic palmitoylethanolamide pre-exposure exerts neuroprotective effects in astrocyte-neuron co-cultures from a triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimers disease. Life Sci. 2020 Sep 15;257:118037. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.118037. PubMed
    Romero-Fernandez W, Zhou Z, Beggiato S, Wydra K, Filip M, Tanganelli S, Borroto-Escuela DO, Ferraro L, Fuxe K. Acute cocaine treatment enhances the antagonistic allosteric adenosine A2A-dopamine D2 receptor-receptor interactions in rat dorsal striatum without increasing significantly extracellular dopamine levels. Pharmacol Rep. 2020 Apr;72(2):332-339. doi: 10.1007/s43440-020-00069-3. PubMed
    de Oliveira Junior ER, Truzzi E, Ferraro L, Fogagnolo M, Pavan B, Beggiato S, Rustichelli C, Maretti E, Lima EM, Leo E, Dalpiaz A. Nasal administration of nanoencapsulated geraniol/ursodeoxycholic acid conjugate: Towards a new approach for the management of Parkinson's disease. J Control Release. 2020 May10; 321:540-552. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2020.02.033. PubMed
    Beggiato S, Tomasini MC, Cassano T, Ferraro L. Chronic Oral Palmitoylethanolamide Administration Rescues Cognitive Deficit and Reduces Neuroinflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Glutamate Levels in A Transgenic Murine Model of Alzheimers Disease. J Clin Med. 2020 Feb 5;9(2):428. doi: 10.3390/jcm9020428. PubMed
    Pacifico S, Ferrari F, Albanese V, Marzola E, Azevedo Neto J, Ruzza C, Calo G, Preti D, & Guerrini R. (2020). Biased agonism at nociceptin/orphanin FQ receptors: a structure activity study on N/OFQ (1-13)-NH2. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b02057.
    Azevedo Neto J, Costanzini A, De Giorgio R, Lambert DG, Ruzza C, & Calò G (2020). Biased versus Partial Agonism in the Search for Safer Opioid Analgesics. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(17), E3870.
    Asth L, Tiago PRF, Costa LRF, et al. Effects of non-peptide nociceptin/orphanin FQ receptor ligands on methylphenidate-induced hyperactivity in mice: Implications for bipolar disorders. Neuropeptides. 2020;82:102059. doi:10.1016/j.npep.2020.102059
    Ferrari F, Rizzo S, Ruzza C, & Calo G (2020). Detailed In Vitro Pharmacological Characterization of the Clinically Viable Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ Peptide Receptor Antagonist BTRX-246040. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, 373(1), 34–43.
    Ingusci S, Verlengia G, Soukupova M, Zucchini S, Simonato M. Gene Therapy Tools for Brain Diseases. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Jul 1;10:724. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00724. eCollection 2019. PubMed
    Ingusci S, Cattaneo S, Verlengia G, Zucchini S, Simonato M. A Matter of Genes: The Hurdles of Gene Therapy for Epilepsy. Epilepsy Curr. 2019;19(1):38-43. doi:10.1177/1535759718822846
  • Collaborations

    • Università degli Studi di Verona
    • Università degli Studi Tor Vergata, Roma
    • Università di Genova
    • University of Pittsburg (USA)
    • Chiesi Farmaceutici
    • Karolinska Istitute (Stoccolma, Svezia)
    • University of Maryland (USA)
    • Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma
    • Università degli Studi di Bologna
    • University of Limerick (Ireland)
    • Polish Academy of Sciences (Cracovia, Poland)
    • Università di Camerino
    • Federal University of Rio Grande du Norte (Brazil)
    • University of Leicester (UK)
    • University of Lodz (Poland)
    • Jena University Hospital (Germany)
    • University of Toulouse (France)
  • Price list

    Code Synthetic description of the service offered Cost (€)
    In the Laboratory for Preclinical Research (LARP) we are able to offer spaces for breeding and maintaining small laboratory animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, ensuring their well-being in accordance with D.Lgs. 26/2014 and maintaining a "specific pathogen free" (SPF) health status according to Felasa guidelines.
    We can offer advice on the formulation of the experimental design of projects involving animal testing; During the consultation, you will be able to make a budget of the overall cost including the animal model and the analysis required.
    The Service also offers free advice for specific projects commissioned, providing quotes based on the user's research needs: please contact the service representative who can give you any suggestions.

    Rates show ex vivo specific analysis costs
    For routine analysis the prices can be agreed (possible subscription).
    To be agreed
    AF-IH Immunohistochemistry of an antigen on histological sections or on primary cultures: 10 slides (favourable rates can be arranged according to the number of samples to be examined and slides required) 280.00 + cost of antibody
    AF-IF Immunofluorescence of an antigen on histological sections or on primary cultures: 10 slides (favourable rates can be arranged according to the number of samples to be examined and slides required) 280.00 + cost of antibody
    AF-S Histological staining on tissue sections or on primary cultures (fluoro-jade or propidium iodide or silver staining or Hoechst): 10 slides (favourable rates can be arranged according to the number of samples to be examined and slides required) 220.00
    AF-IS In situ hybridisation of mRNAs on histological tissue sections To be agreed
    AF-CP-N Preparation of primary culture of neural cells or glial cells or microglial cells, hippocampal or cortical (animals provided by the client) 600.00
    AF-IA Images acquisition by fluorescence microscope Leica DMRA2 and analysis of images by MCID (specialized assistance) 55.00/hour
    AF-MC-N Neurotransmitters measuring 40.00/sample
    AF-MC Brain levels measuring of drugs or endogenous substances (other than neurotransmitters) To be agreed
    AF-PR-IN Fixation and Tissue Processing by Bio-Optica VTP300 and embedding tissues in paraffin blocks (Bio-Optica 23-DP500)
    from 1 to 10 samples
    from 11 to 30 samples
    AF-MIC Cutting of tissue-embedded sections ( microtome Leica RM 2125RT) ( slides provided by the client) 50.00/hour
    AF-CRI Cutting of frozen tissue (criostat Leica) (slides provided by the client) 50.00/hour
    AF-LAS Laser Microdissection and fluorescence Microscope DMLMD6000B, Leica: (specialized personal assistance; for the tissue slides see code AF-CRI) 60.00/hour
    AF-MIC-1 Microtome Leica RM 2125RT 30.00/hour
    AF-CRI-1 Criostat Leica 30.00/hour
    AF-INC Tissue embedding station Bio-Optica 23-DP500
    (paraffin cost not included)
    AF-AI Image analisys MCID 25.00/hour

    Some of the services/products offered may be provided with the help of other services of the LTTA Laboratory.
    Each service includes a description of the procedure and supply of images for scientific publication purposes.
    Prices are shown without VAT and are subjected to change according to the cost of consumables necessary (every 12 months).

  • Laboratory for Preclinical Research (LARP)

    Virtual tour of the ground floor

    Cliccare su ogni area indicata per visualizzare il video corrispondente.

  • Laboratory for Preclinical Research (LARP)

    Virtual tour of the first floor

    Cliccare su ogni area indicata per visualizzare il video corrispondente.

Segreteria, Ingresso e Deposito Materiali

External courtyard

Entrance :: air shower


Imaging #1

Imaging #2


Behavioural studies

Stabulario topi 5