Cellular and Molecular Myology

​Prof. Guglielmo Sorci

Dept. Experimental Medicine

University of Perugia


IIM (Interuniversity Institute of Myology)

Our Research Aims

- Investigating the biology of muscle precursor cells, muscle regeneration, muscle atrophy (including sarcopenia and cancer cachexia), muscular dystrophy, and rhabdomyosarcoma, with particular regards to RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end-products) and the calcium-binding protein S100B

- Investigating the intraperitoneal injection of microencapsulated Sertoli cells as a treatment to Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

- Investigating the alterations induced by microgravity in human satellite cells.

- Investigating the efficacy of herbal extracts in counteracting muscle atrophy.


Lab Members

Prof. Guglielmo Sorci

Prof. Rosario Donato

Principal Investigator

Prof. Francesca Riuzzi

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sara Chiappalupi

Dr. Roberta Sagheddu

Dr. Laura Salvadori


Aleksandra Vukasinovic

PhD Student




Role of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-products and its ligands in cancer-induced muscle wasting (cachexia)

Granted by AIRC (Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro); Project #17581

Cancer cachexia is a multifactorial syndrome affecting most patients with advanced cancer. The major clinical feature of cachexia is a severe muscle wasting leading to weight loss, impaired quality of life, and poor outcome. Although the molecular bases of cancer cachexia remain largely unknown, systemic inflammation and protein breakdown are recognized as the main processes promoting muscle atrophy in cancer conditions.
Together with its physiological ligands, S100B and HMGB1 proteins, the multiligand receptor RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end-products) is involved in inflammation, tumor growth, muscle homeostasis and regeneration. Thus, RAGE, S100B and HMGB1 might represent regulatory factors of muscle wasting in cancer conditions.
Preliminary data show that RAGE, S100B and HMGB1 are upregulated in muscle tissue of tumor-bearing mice, and counteract TNFα-induced atrophy of myotubes in vitro. However, excess RAGE ligands leads to myotube atrophy in the absence of TNFα. Thus, RAGE and its ligands might have a protective or detrimental effect on muscle depending on their concentration and the duration of stimulation. We hypothesize that muscles of cancer patients re-express RAGE as a protective response to cancer-induced cachectic stimuli. However, in advanced cancer patients high concentrations of S100B and/or HMGB1 lead to chronic stimulation of RAGE contributing to muscle wasting. In this case, reducing S100B or HMGB1 levels, or down-regulating RAGE expression/activity might prevent muscle wasting in advanced cancer conditions.
The present project is aImed at i) investigating the role of RAGE, S100B and HMGB1 in muscle wasting in a tumor-free environment; ii) dissecting the interplay between RAGE, S100B and HMGB1 in conditions of muscle atrophy in relation to inflammation and cancer in tumor-bearing mice; iii) analyzing the possible use of RAGE, S100B or HMGB1 as markers of cancer cachexia.

Understanding the molecular mechanisms operating in cancer-induced muscle wasting is relevant in a clinical perspective and for designing therapeutic strategies. We expect to identify RAGE, S100B and HMGB1 as possible biomarkers and mediators in the interplay between tumor growth, systemic inflammation, and muscle wasting occurring in cancer conditions.
Although several inflammatory cytokines have been involved in loss of muscle mass in cancer patients, the role of RAGE and its ligands are not yet fully understood. This investigation will shed light on novel potential contributors to the pathogenesis of cancer cachexia.

Use of microencapsulated Sertoli cells in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Towards an application to human patients

Granted by Parent Project Onlus, Italy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked disease due to lack of dystrophin, leading to progressive muscle degeneration, impaired locomotion and premature death. Persistent muscle degeneration is associated with a condition of chronic inflammation causing muscle necrosis and fibrosis.
Sertoli cells (SeC) have the ability to produce immunomodulatory and trophic factors. SeC have been long used to create an ectopic immune-privileged environment to prolong survival of co-transplanted cells. Encapsulation has represented an improvement for the use of SeC.
We reported that a single intraperitoneal injection of microencapsulated SeC (SeC-MC) is beneficial to dystrophic mdx mice. Injected SeC-MC behave as a drug-delivery system secreting factors that reach muscle tissue through the circulation, where reduce the inflammation and induce the expression of the dystrophin paralogue, utrophin, leading to rescue of muscle morphology and performance.
Although this novel therapeutic approach to DMD has translational potential (SeC are isolated from specific pathogens-free pigs, encapsulated in clinical grade alginate, injected with non-invasive procedure, and without any immunosuppression), further aspects need to be investigated that is the aim of this project: i) SeC-MC dose-response; ii) effects of SeC on canine and human dystrophic myoblasts in vitro; iii) morphology of SeC inside the microcapsules over time; iv) the role of SeC in inflammation using utrophin-deficient mdx (mdx/Utrn-/-) mice; and v) the safety of SeC treatment by the use of experimental models of infection and cancer.
The results will give us important information about SeC biology necessary in view of their possible application to DMD patients.

Multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of the functional alterations induced by microgravity in human satellite cells, and study of possible countermeasures

Granted by ASI (Italian Space Agency)

Long-time exposure to microgravity induces alteration of homeostasis in organs and tissues including skeletal muscles, which undergo atrophy with loss of mass and strength due to loss of muscle fibers and alteration of their composition. Particularly for long time flights such condition is of paramount relevance. Investigating the molecular mechanisms of muscle atrophy induced by microgravity is essential for establishing clinical approach/intervention.
Satellite cells (SC) are responsible for growth, maintenance and repair of the muscle tissue. The adult SC of muscle tissue that reside between the basal lamina and the sarcolemma have the ability to activate, proliferate and form new muscle fibers or repair damaged ones. The activity of SC is under the control of intracellular and extracellular factors that are spatially and temporally organized. Microgravity conditions may be able to induce muscle atrophy by influencing the biology and the functionality of the SC. The research objectives are: 1) to study the changes induced by microgravity in the biology of human SC; 2) to compare the effects induced in human SC during the simulated microgravity on Ground with those induced by the real microgravity onboard the International Space Station (ISS); 3) to evaluate the effects in murine muscle cells of muscle-specific overexpression of IGF-1 as countermeasure to microgravity-induced muscle atrophy.

The results of this project can be useful to understand any alterations at the level of property of SC of human skeletal muscle induced by exposure to microgravity, both simulated and real. The knowledge of the changes in the properties of SC, combined with changes in the ability of SC to respond to certain extracellular factors, will allow to design future interventions (nutritional and/or pharmacological) to fight the muscle wasting process induced by microgravity  and encourage growth and maintenance of muscle mass during long-term space travel.

(The project is coordinated by Prof. Stefania Fulle, University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy, and involves the University Sapienza of Rome and the University of L'Aquila)

Inhibition of RAGE as a therapeutic approach to Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Granted by Duchenne Parent Project, the Netherlands

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked pathology characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and chronic inflammation that causes muscle necrosis and fibrosis. Indeed, DMD patients are treated with antiinflammatory steroids, despite their limited efficacy and undesired side effects. RAGE, a multiligand receptor involved in inflammation and myogenesis, is not expressed in adult muscle tissue, but it is highly expressed in immune cells, regenerating myofibers during muscle regeneration, and dystrophic muscle tissue.
To establish the effective role of RAGE in DMD muscles we generated a dystrophic (mdx) mouse lacking RAGE (mdx/Ager-/- mouse), which shows significantly reduced necrotic myofibers and immune cell infiltrate suggesting that targeting RAGE might result beneficial to DMD muscles.
The aims of the project are to characterize the mdx/Ager-/- mouse, and to test the effects of RAGE inhibition by the specific inhibitor, FPS-ZM1, in DMD animals as a therapeutic approach.
We will analyze muscles of mdx/Ager-/- mice at different ages, with particular focus on inflammatory cells. In mdx mice, we will analyze the effects in vitro and in vivo (i.p. injections) of different doses and durations of FPS-ZM1 treatment in comparison with glucocorticoids treatment to find an optimal condition for recovery of muscle morphology and performance. We will perform histological, immunohistochemical, western blot, FACS and PCR analyses of markers of inflammation, muscle differentiation, fibrosis, necrosis and autophagy, and functional evaluation. We expect that inhibition of RAGE in DMD animals by FPS-ZM1 results in reduced muscle inflammation, necrosis and fibrosis, and favors muscle functionality.

Evaluation of the efficacy of herbal preparations to counter induced muscular atrophy and sarcopenia. Formulation of a suitable herbal product.

Granted by Regione Umbria (A.R.CO. Fellowship)

In collaboration with Laboratori Biokyma Srl (Anghiari, Italy) (, leader in the production of officinal plants, and the research groups of Prof. Ferruccio Poli, University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy) and Prof. Stefania Fulle, University of Chieti-Pescara (Chieti, Italy). The project is aimed at developing herbal formulations useful in counteracting muscle atrophy associated with inflammatory diseases, use of steroid drugs or physiologically associated with aging.


Published Work

Chiappalupi S.1, Sorci G.1, Vukasinovic A., Salvadori L., Sagheddu R., Coletti D., Renga G., Romani L., Donato R.2 and Riuzzi F.2 (2020) Targeting RAGE prevents muscle wasting and prolongs survival in cancer cachexia. J. Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle (Accepted for publication) 1Contributed equally; 2Shared senior authorship

Riuzzi F., Chiappalupi S., Arcuri C., Giambanco I., Sorci G.1 and Donato R.1 (2020) S100 proteins in obesity: liaisons dangereuses. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 77:129-47. doi: 10.1007/s00018-019-03257-4; 1Shared senior authorship

Chiappalupi S., Salvadori L., Luca G., Riuzzi F., Calafiore R., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2019) Do porcine Sertoli cells represent an opportunity for Duchenne muscular dystrophy? Cell Proliferation  26:e12599. doi: 10.1111/cpr.12599

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1, Arcuri C., Giambanco I., Bellezza I., Minelli A. and Donato R. (2018) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of sarcopenia: the S100B perspective. J. Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. Accepted for publication; 1Contributed equally

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1, Sagheddu R., Chiappalupi S., Salvadori L. and Donato R. (2018) RAGE in the pathophysiology of skeletal muscle. J Cachexia Sarcopenia and Muscle. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12350; 1Contributed equally

​Sagheddu R., Chiappalupi S., Salvadori L., Riuzzi F., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2018) Targeting RAGE as a potential therapeutic approach to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Hum. Mol. Genet. Doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy288

Luca G., Arato I., Sorci G., Cameron D., Hansen B., Baroni T., Donato R., White D. and Calafiore R. (2018) Sertoli cells for cell transplantation: preclinical studies and future perspectives. Andrology 6(3): 385-95;

Donato R., Sorci G. and Giambanco I. (2018) S100A6. Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules, 2nd Edition, Springer, pp. 4805-4813

Chiappalupi S., Salvadori L., Luca G., Riuzzi F., Calafiore R., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2017) Employment of microencapsulated Sertoli cells as a new tool to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. J. Funct. Morphol. Kinesiol. 2(4):47

Riuzzi F., Beccafico S., Sagheddu R., Chiappalupi S., Giambanco I., Bereshchenko O., Riccardi C., Sorci G.1 and Donato R.1 (2017) Levels of S100B protein drive the reparative process in acute muscle injury and muscular dystrophy. Sci. Rep. 7(1):1253; doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12880-9; 1Shared Senior authorship

Donato R., Sorci G. and Giambanco I. (2017) S100A6 protein: functional roles. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 74(15):2749-60; doi: 10.1007/s00018-017-2526-9

Donato R., Sorci G. and Giambanco I. (2017) Le proteine S100. Ligand Assay 22(1):11-44. Cover figure assigned

Chiappalupi S., Luca G., Mancuso F., Madaro L., Fallarino F., Nicoletti C., Calvitti M., Arato I., Falabella F., Salvadori L., Di Meo A., Bufalari A., Giovagnoli S., Calafiore R., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2016) Intraperitoneal injection of microencapsulated Sertoli cells restores muscle morphology and performance in dystrophic mice. Biomaterials 75:313-26;

Chiappalupi S., Luca G., Mancuso F., Madaro L., Fallarino F., Nicoletti C., Calvitti M., Arato I., Falabella F., Salvadori L., Di Meo A., Bufalari A., Giovagnoli S., Calafiore R., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2015) Effects of intraperitoneal injection of microencapsulated Sertoli cells on chronic and presymptomatic dystrophic mice. Data in Brief 5:1015-21;

Matino D., Gargaro M., Santagostino E., Di Minno M.N.D., Castaman G., Morfini M., Rocino A., Mancuso M.E., Di Minno G., Coppola A., Talesa V.N., Volpi C., Vacca C., Orabona C., Iannitti R., Mazzucconi M.G., Santoro C., Tosti A., Chiappalupi S., Sorci G., Tagariello G., Belvini D., Radossi P., Landolfi R., Fuchs D., Boon L., Pirro M., Marchesini E., Grohmann U., Puccetti P., Iorio A., and Fallarino F. (2015) IDO1 suppresses inhibitor development in hemophilia A treated with factor VIII. J. Clin. Invest. 125(10):3766-81; doi:10.1172/JCI81859

Beccafico S., Morozzi G., Marchetti M.C., Riccardi C., Sidoni A., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2015) Artesunate induces ROS-mediated apoptosis and counteracts tumor growth in vivo in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Carcinogenesis 36(9):1071-83; doi:10.1093/carcin/bgv098

Alaggio R., Midrio P., Sgrò A., Piovan G., Guzzardo V., Donato R., Sorci G., Lago P., Gamba P.G. (2015) Congenital diaphragmatic hernia: focus on abnormal muscle formation. J. Pediatr. Surg. 50(3):388-93; doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2014.08.005

Chiappalupi S., Riuzzi F., Fulle S., Donato R., Sorci G. (2014) Defective RAGE activity in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma cells results in high PAX7 levels that sustain migration and invasiveness. Carcinogenesis 35:2382-92; doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgu176

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1, Sagheddu R.1, Sidoni A., Alaggio R., Ninfo V., Donato R. (2014) RAGE signaling deficiency in rhabdomyosarcoma cells causes upregulation of PAX7 and uncontrolled proliferation. J. Cell Sci. 127:1699-711; doi:10.1242/jcs.136259; 1Contributed equally

Faggi F., Mitola S., Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Donato R., Codenotti S., Poliani P.L., Cominelli M., Vescovi R., Rossi S., Calza S., Colombi M., Penna F., Costelli P., Perini I., Sampaolesi M., Monti E., Fanzani A. (2014) Phosphocaveolin-1 enforces tumor growth and chemoresistance in rhabdomyosarcoma. PLoS ONE 9(1):e84618; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084618

Iannitti R.G., Casagrande A., De Luca A., Cunha C., Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Borghi M., Galosi C., Massi-Benedetti C., Oury T.D., Cariani L., Russo M., Porcaro L., Colombo C., Majo F., Lucidi V., Fiscarelli E., Ricciotti G., Lass-Flörl C., Ratclif L., Esposito A., De Benedictis F.M., Donato R., Carvalho A., Romani L. (2013) Hypoxia promotes danger-mediated inflammation via RAGE in Cystic Fibrosis. Am. J. Resp. Crit. Care Med. 188(11):1338-50; doi:10.1164/rccm.201305-0986OC

Dormoy-Raclet V., Cammas A., Celona B., Lian X. J., van der Giessen K.1, Zivojnovic M., Brunelli S., Riuzzi F., Sorci G., Wilhelm B., Di Marco S., Donato R., Bianchi M. E. and Gallouzi I.-E. (2013) HuR and miR-1192 regulate myogenesis by modulating the translation of HMGB1 mRNA. Nat. Commun. 4:2388; doi:10.1038/ncomms3388

Fanzani A., Monti E., Donato R. and Sorci G. (2013) Muscular dystrophies share pathogenetic mechanisms with muscle sarcomas. Trends Mol. Med. 19(9):546-54, doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2013.07.001

Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Arcuri C., Tubaro C., Bianchi R., Giambanco I. and Donato R. (2013) S100B protein in tissue development, repair and regeneration. World J. Biol. Chem. 4(1): 1-12; All the authors contributed equally

Donato R., Riuzzi F. and Sorci G. (2013) Causes of elevated serum levels of S100B protein in athletes. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 113:819-20

Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Giambanco I. and Donato R. (2013) RAGE in tissue homeostasis, repair and regeneration. Biochim. Biophys. Acta – Mol. Cell Res. 1833:101-9

Donato R., Cannon B.R., Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Hsu K., Weber D.J. and Geczy C.L. (2013) Functions of S100 proteins. Curr. Mol. Med. 13:24-57

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1, Sagheddu R. and Donato R. (2012) HMGB1/RAGE regulates muscle satellite cell homeostasis via p38 MAPK/myogenin-dependent repression of Pax7 transcription. J. Cell Sci. 125(6):1440-54. Cover figure assigned; 1Contributed equally

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1, Beccafico S. and Donato R. (2012) S100B engages RAGE or bFGF/FGFR1 in myoblasts depending on its own concentration and myoblast density. Implications for muscle regeneration. PLoS ONE 7(1): e28700, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028700; 1Contributed equally

Cunha C., Giovannini G., Pierini A., Bell A.S., Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Donato R., Rodrigues F., Velardi A., Aversa F., Romani L., Carvalho A. (2011) Genetically-determined hyperfunction of the S100B/RAGE axis is a risk factor for aspergillosis in stem cell transplant recipients. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27962, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027962

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1 and Donato R. (2011) S100B protein regulates myoblast proliferation and differentiation by activating FGFR1 in a bFGF-dependent manner. J. Cell Sci. 124(14):2389-400; 1Contributed equally

Sorci G.1, Giovannini G.1, Riuzzi F., Bonifazi P., Zelante T., Zagarella S., Bistoni F., Donato R. and Romani L. (2011) The danger signal S100B integrates pathogen– and danger–sensing pathways to restrain inflammation. PLoS Pathog. 7(3):e1001315; 1Contributed equally

Beccafico S., Riuzzi F., Puglielli C., Mancinelli R., Fulle S., Sorci G. and Donato R. (2011) Human muscle satellite cells show age-related differential expression of S100B protein and RAGE. Age(Dordr) 33:523–541 (DOI 10.1007/s11357-010-9197-x)

Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Arcuri C., Bianchi R., Brozzi F., Tubaro C., Giambanco I. and Donato R. (2010) The many faces of S100B protein: when an extracellular factor inactivates its own receptor and activates another one. Italian J. Anat. Embryol. 115, 1:1/2 (Suppl.)

Danieli-Betto D., Peron S., Germinario E., Zanin M., Sorci G., Franzoso S., Sandonà D., and Betto R. (2010) Sphingosine 1-phosphate signaling is involved in skeletal muscle regeneration. Am. J. Physiol. – Cell Physiol. 298(3):C550-8

Donato R., Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Arcuri C., Bianchi R., Brozzi F., Tubaro C. and Giambanco I. (2009) S100B’s double life: Intracellular regulator and extracellular signal. Biochim. Biophys. Acta – Mol. Cell Res.  1793:1008–1022

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1 and Donato R. (2007) RAGE expression in rhabdomyosarcoma cells results in myogenic differentiation and reduced proliferation, migration, invasiveness, and tumor growth. Am. J. Pathol. 171(3):947-961; 1 Contributed equally

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1 and Donato R. (2006) The amphoterin (HMGB1)/receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) pair modulates myoblast proliferation, apoptosis, adhesiveness, migration and invasiveness. Functional inactivation of RAGE in L6 myoblasts results in tumor formation in vivo. J. Biol. Chem. 281(12):8242-8253; 1 Contributed equally

Riuzzi F.1, Sorci G.1 and Donato R. (2006) S100B Stimulates Myoblast Proliferation and Inhibits Myoblast Differentiation by Independently Stimulating ERK1/2 and Inhibiting p38 MAPK. J. Cell. Physiol. 207:461-470; 1 Contributed equally

Businaro R., Leone S., Fabrizi C., Sorci G., Donato R., Lauro G.M. and Fumagalli L. (2006) S100B Protects LAN-5 Neuroblastoma Cells Against Aβ Amyloid Neurotoxicity Via RAGE Engagement at Low Doses But Increases Aβ Amyloid Neurotoxicity at High Doses. J. Neurosci. Res. 83:897-906

Sorci G., Riuzzi F., and Donato R. (2004) Amphoterin Stimulates Myogenesis and Counteracts the Anti-myogenic Factors Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor and S100B via RAGE Binding. Mol. Cell. Biol. 24(11):4880-4894

Sorci G., Riuzzi F., Agneletti A.L., Marchetti C. and Donato R. (2003) S100B inhibits myogenic differentiation and myotube formation in a RAGE-independent manner. Mol. Cell. Biol. 23(14):4870-4881

Rambotti M.G., Spreca A., Giambanco I., Sorci G., and Donato R. (2002) Ultracytochemistry as a tool for the study of the cellular and subcellular localization of membrane-bound guanylate cyclase (GC) activity. Applicability to both receptor-activated and receptor-independent GC activity. Mol. Cell. Biochem. 230:85-96

Adami C.1, Sorci G.1, Blasi E., Agneletti A.L., Bistoni F., and Donato R. (2001) S100B expression in and effects on microglia. Glia 33(2):131-142 ; 1 Contributed equally

Huttunen H.J., Kuja-Panula J., Sorci G., Agneletti A.L., Donato R., and Rauvala H. (2000) Coregulation of neurite outgrowth and cell survival by amphoterin and S100 proteins through RAGE activation. J. Biol. Chem. 275:40096-40105

Sorci G., Agneletti A.L., and Donato R. (2000) Effects of S100A1 and S100B on microtubule stability. An in vitro study using triton-cytoskeletons from astrocyte and myoblast cell lines. Neuroscience 99:773-783

Rende M., Brizi E., Sorci G., Bianchi R., Provenzano C., Bruno R., and Donato R. (1999) Regulation of the p75 neurotrophin receptor in a rat myogenic cell line (L6). Histochem. J. 31:589-601

Garbuglia M., Verzini M., Sorci G., Bianchi R., Giambanco I., Agneletti A.L., and Donato R. (1999) The calcium-modulated proteins, S100A1 and S100B, as potential regulators of the dynamics of type III intermediate filaments. Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 32:1177-1185

Sorci G., Bianchi R., Giambanco I., Rambotti M.G., and Donato R. (1999) Replicating myoblasts and fused myotubes express the calcium-regulated proteins S100A1 and S100B. Cell Calcium 25(2):93-106



Prof. Guglielmo Sorci
Sect. Human Anatomy, Dept. Experimental Medicine
University of Perugia
Piazz.le Lucio Severi 1, Bld. D, 1st Floor
06132 Perugia PG, Italy

Tel. +39-075-5858258

merge SWant 100X a.jpg

©2018 by Anatomy Lab UTH. Proudly created with