Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) are institutional visits aimed at supporting individual mobility, fostering collaboration between individuals. The Guidelines for Action Management, Monitoring and Assessment should be followed to ensure the proper implementation of this networking instrument.

Short Term Scientific Mission calls will be opened. For further information regarding STSM’s, contact CONNECT STSM Coordinator, Prof Ewout HOORN. For more details on the STSMs, see the User Guideline.

STSM in BIOGEM Research Center in Italy

STSMs in the 2nd grant period:

  • Gaye Hafez from Turkey to Serbia; Experimental models for cognitive impairment and transgenic mice with motor disabilities– a possible model of CKD
  • Antonio de Donato from Italy to Portugal; Tools to understand cognitive mechanisms in CKD patients
  • Luciano D’Apolito from Italy to Serbia; Behavioral analysis on animal models of peritoneal dialysis and cerebral oedema
  • Michele Della Corte from Italy to Poland; Understanding of cognitive impairment Inkidney transplant recipient
  • Abbas Shams from Italy to Spain; Applications of nephrectomy and kidney morphometry in animal models for understanding the Kidney-Brain crosstalk
  • Rashmi Joshi from Italy to Greece; Effect of Muscle Alterations on NeurologicalComplications in Hemodialysis Patients
  • Hong Xu from Sweeden to Italy; Application of preclinical and clinical methods in brain-kidney interaction research
  • Veronica Buonincontri from Italy to Portugal; Tools to understand cognitive mechanisms in CKD patients
  • Mario Zevola from Italy to Switzerland; STSM project for correlating acid-base balance and cognitive health
  • Neha Gupta from Italy to Greece: Effect of metabolic alterations on Neurological complications in CKD patients
  • Nevison Annang from Italy to the Netherlands; The effect of microbiota-derived tryptophan metabolites on the endothelial glycocalyx
  • Andrea Melluso from Italy to Czech Republic; Management of CKD in a Czech cohort of patients

Participant: Abbas Shams, Naples, Italy
Host: Maria José Soler, Barcelona, Spain
Title: Applications of nephrectomy and kidney morphometry in animal models for understanding the kidney-brain crosstalk.

At Biogem, I mainly work with rat models for the purpose of assessing the biocompatibility of various peritoneal dialysis solutions with alternative osmotic agents, during my two weeks at VHIR Barcelona, I had the opportunity to work with murine models to learn techniques such as performing nephrectomy, kidney morphometry, and GFR measurement using the transdermal device. These skills are helpful in developing competence to perform our future experiments on animal models with pathologies such as CKD and diabetes for understanding the relationship between chronic kidney disease and cognitive impairments. During my visit, I also attended a seminar by Dr AnderVergara titled “Role of Apelin in cardiovascular and renal complications of diabetes in renal transplantation”.

STSM at University of Campania in Italy

Participant: Hong Xu, Sweden
Host: Davide Viggiano, Naples, Italy
Title: Preclinical and clinical methods in brain-kidney interaction research

My one-week STSM at the University of Campania allows me to see invivo studies in animal models and clinical work/research in human subjects aimed at understanding the biological and pathophysiological mechanisms of the kidney-brain connection and the effects of kidney function on cognitive impairment /dementia in clinical studies.
During my stay at the University of Campania, my tutor Prof. DavideViggiano brought me to meet many excellent researchers/physicians from different departments at the university. During my visit, I learned about the art of animal models of kidney diseases on cognitive impairment as well as dementia utilizing the state-of-the-art method of in vivo imaging. This approach can be used to analyse brain regions that are particularly vulnerable in Alzheimer’s disease (i.e., entorhinal cortex, hippocampus), for targets related to neuroinflammation, synaptic function, amyloid-β plaque deposition, and cholesterol, metabolism to further study the mechanism of kidney-brain nexus at the molecular level. At the end of my visit, I understand how animal models can be used to dissect the connection between kidney diseases and brain dysfunction. In addition. I see how this information can be translated into the clinical setting.

STSM in University of Thessaly in Greece

Participant: Neha Gupta, Ariano Irpino, Italy
Host: Giorgos K. Sakkas, Thessaly, Greece
Title: Effect of metabolic alterations and muscle dysfunction on neurological complications in CKD patients

The host lab has extensively worked with chronic kidney disease(CKD) patients suffering from neurological complications. They have observed that exercise could be beneficial for preventing the decline in neural function in kidney disease patients. The two weeks of STSM allowed me to learn new techniques like the critical role of Body composition (BIA, DEXA etc.). This new technique helped to explore new avenues and expand the current understanding of kidney disease. In addition, Prof. Sakkas introduced us to Dr Karatzaferi’s classes on muscle mechanics, which covered muscle contraction, exhaustion, dysfunction, and development. Also, the importance of polysomnography training in enhancing lifestyle and lowering neurological problems in CKD/dialysis patients, including exercise, was also discussed. It is well-recognized that metabolic changes can cause chronic renal disease, which can result in muscular dysfunction. It was, therefore, intriguing to learn that physical activity and these novel methods might be crucial in tying metabolic imbalance to muscle atrophy and kidney illness. Understanding innovative processes between neurobiology and nephrology could be aided by addressing these topics using this clinical information and research data. This may lead to the development of new techniques for improved clinical management of kidney-related neurological problems.

STSM in University of Belgrade, Serbia

Participant: Luciano D’Apolito, Ariano Irpino, Italy
Host: Vesna Pešić, Belgrade, Serbia
Title: Behavioral analysis on animal models of peritoneal dialysis and cerebral oedema

Cognitive impairment is common among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and then also in Peritoneal dialysis (PD)patients. Among dialysis patients, the prevalence of cognitive impairment is extremely high. These patients could benefit from cognitive assessment before and periodically after dialysis therapy initiation. The development of new techniques for the study of behaviour in animals has represented the new frontier of experimental research on animal models for years. Many of these methodologies have found considerable success in the area of neurological research, and many of these are in daily use by the research group of Prof. Vesna Pešić at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Belgrade. Activities of STSM were done with the specific aim to develop practical protocols and work plans on how these could be used to study behavioural aspects of cognitive impairment in kidney disease models, including models of peritoneal dialysis. The host site boasts numerous applications and many years of knowledge in the field of the physiology of the brain. Hence the idea of performing behavioural tests to detect the harmful effects of glucose, an osmotic agent used in PD therapy, also on the brain and new insights considering the model of cerebral oedema, a very common status inside the cohort of CKD patients. Although this was a pilot study, the obtained data are very encouraging and will allow further analyses to be carried out to further corroborate the clinical and cognitive status of cerebral oedema. Host’s scientific expertise and resources will allow an expansion of knowledge on the physiology of the brain as a starting point for studies on permeability and hemodynamic mechanisms at the cerebral level by exploiting the considerable potential of multiphoton microscopy, a technology used at Biogem Institute.

STSM in University of Belgrade, Serbia

Participant: Gaye Hafez, Istanbul, Turkey
Host: Vesna Pešić, Belgrade, Serbia
Title: Experimental models for cognitive impairment and transgenic mice with motor disabilities– a possible model of CKD

One of the most important goals of CONNECT is to understand the causes of cognitive impairment in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. One of the methods is to mimic kidney diseases with animal models and to observe the change in cognitive functions in these animals. During this STSM, to explore the potential of CYP2C19 transgenic mice as a potential model for CKD and mild cognitive impairment, we conducted a pilot study with male and female CYP2C19 transgenic and control mice. It has been demonstrated that CYP2C19 mice have certain motor disabilities such as a “clasp” reflex and characteristic gate which we also observed in our animals. During this STSM period, we performed behavioural studies. such as NORT (novel object recognition test) and SRT (social recognition test) in both wild-type control and transgenic animals. In a nutshell, we conducted this pilot study of animal behaviour to investigate the presence of CKD in CYPC219 transgenic mice and to see how cognitive functions changed. The preliminary results we obtained should be supported by further molecular, histological and microscopic studies.
Most of the publications describing the relationship between CKD-cognitive decline have been attributed to vascular damage. Inaddition, it is known that uremic toxins, brain-gut axis andneurotrophic factors have a place in the pathology, but further studies are still needed. Developing pharmacological strategies toprevent/improve cognitive impairment is of great importance for these patients, but the gaps in pathology must first be clarified.

Applicant: Antonio de Donato, Ariano Irpino, Naples, Italy
Host: Alexandre Andrade, Lisbon, Portugal
Title: Tools to understand cognitive mechanisms in CKD patients

During the period I stayed at the hosting institution I had the possibility to learn how to use tools and techniques for monitoring and analyzing brain function. The experiments conducted on volunteers were of considerable importance in understanding both the hardware and software operation of instruments such as the 64-channel EEG and the new 8-channel Unicorn device. In particular, knowledge was acquired on the new data processing strategies of fNIRS like the use of specific tools in Matlab such as Homer3. Analysing brain activity in patients with CKD, during dialysis, is not possible today, as it would require a very complex and uncomfortable procedure. However, fNIRS and EEG could be a valid alternatives for studying brain activity both in normal conditions and during dialysis. In particular, the use of these new tools and new analytical techniques will allow our working group to better understand the mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits in patients with chronic renal failure (CKD). This STSM will be useful also to create a multidisciplinary team between the BIOGEM/University of Campania and the IBEB institutes. This new collaboration that combines cognitive, physiological, nephrological and mathematical approaches will improve the skills and collaborative potential of the two institutions.


Fifth Call for Short-Term Scientific Mission

Fifth Call for Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) applications within the COST Action “Cognitive decline in Nephro-Neurology: European Cooperative Target (CONNECT)” Deadline for submission: April 13th, 2024

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Fourth Call for Short-Term Scientific Mission

Fourth Call for Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) applications within the COST Action “Cognitive decline in Nephro-Neurology: European Cooperative Target (CONNECT)” Deadline for submission: November 30th, 2023

Read More