Filipe / Riva

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PhD student: Joel Filipe

Joel Filipe has a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Lisbon (December 2008), graduating with a thesis project about the “Road effects in nest site selection by barn owl (Tyto alba)”. He worked in IMM (Instituto de Medicina Molecular) for two years as lab animal facility technician. From December 2011 he had a fellowship in veterinary sciences at the Facoltà di Medicina veterinaria - Università degli Studi di Milano and was responsible for the management and maintenance of laboratory rodents colonies (with emphasis in animal welfare). During this period he also approached immunology and microbiology fields, starting working in evaluation of immune system in different animal species by sierological techniques (particularly ELISA) and in expression of different genes (eg. TIR8 e PTX3) as early goat mastitis markers using biomolecular techniques (particularly RT-PCR). His main interest fields are immunology and microbiology, ecology and animal welfare.


Tutor: Riva Federica, DVM, PhD, Milan

Dr. Federica Riva is presently a Faculty member of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan (Italy). She is Research Assistant Professor at the Section of Veterinary Microbiology and Immunology of the Department of Animal Pathology, Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health. Her scientific expertise is in microbiology/molecular biology applied to Veterinary biotechnology and Immunology. She gained her degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Milan (Italy) in 1998 and her Ph.D. in Biotechnology applied to Veterinary and Zootechnical sciences in 2001, working on phenotiping knock out mice lines for innate immunity molecules (collaborating with Mario Negri Institute). In 2001-2002 she continued the collaboration with Mario Negri Institute. In 2002 she awarded a fellowship from University of Milan but she renounce when she became Research Assistant Professor. Since 2002 she is a Faculty member at University of Milan and she was confirmed in that position in 2005. She was, at the beginning of her career, involved in developing molecular diagnostic methods to detect fungal infections. Meanwhile Dr. Riva worked on cancer research on a common veterinary neoplasia (canine mastocytoma), focusing on the molecular characterization of the disease. Since the end of 2004 Dr. Riva has started together with the colleague Lauretta Turin a research project on the identification and characterization of TIR8/SIGIRR receptor in few domestic animal species. The collaboration with Prof. Mantovani group has been continued first in Mario Negri Institute, than in Istituto Clinico Humanitas. In the academic year 2005-2006 Dr. Riva worked in prof. J. Stott Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, where she studied the cytokine expression in blood from marine mammals.
About Faculty Appointments, Dr. Federica Riva was Teacher for the Veterinary Medicine Degree of the classes “Biotechnology Applied to Veterinary diagnosis” (2004-05) and “Infectoious disease diagnosis” (2004-05). Dr. Riva has organized many classes, practical classes and exams for the Veterinary Medicine Degree and Veterinary Biotecnology.

Project: Immune response in the bovine forestomachs

Production diseases of dairy cows involve a broad panel of problems considered man-made, caused by the great energy requirement to meet the high production level requirements, although dairy cows have been genetically selected and managed for high production levels. The result of this selection is a cow population characterized by a high susceptibility to infectious and non-infectious stressors. Indeed, the immune system of high-yielding dairy cows is depressed as a result of both genetic selection and the negative energy balance after calving. Despite the improved understanding and diagnosis of these production diseases, their incidence still remains high, thereby causing severe economic losses.

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Previous studies had indicated an active role of bovine forestomachs in the response to alimentary disorders as well as to inflammatory and infectious processes in both the gastro-intestinal tract and elsewhere. Indeed, we detected the expression of immune receptors and cytokines, in the forestomach walls of healthy cows. Moreover, IFN-γ was revealed in ruminal content. We confirmed and further characterized the presence of leukocytes in the rumen fluids. In particular, T-, B-lymphocytes and myeloid lineage cells were detected in the ruminal content of cows. On the whole, results indicate that bovine forestomachs can receive and elaborate signals for the immune cells infiltrating the rumen content or other organs. Forestomachs can thus participate in a cross-talk with the lymphoid tissues in the oral cavity and promote regulatory actions at both regional and systemic levels; these might include the control of dry matter intake as a function of fundamental metabolic requirements of ruminants. The metabolic changes in high-yielding dairy cows (ketosis and acidosis) lead in turn to ruminal dismicrobism. The related change in rumen microbiota can give rise to local and systemic inflammatory responses.

FilipeRiva03In this scenario, there is undoubtedly a need for new early diagnostic markers of production disease risk in dairy cows. In this PhD project, we postulate that the analysis of rumen fluids could be conducive to the identification of herds at risk for production diseases, in addition to the traditional blood and faecal analyses.
In order to verify a possible correlation between clinical conditions, inflammatory markers and production levels with changes in the rumen liquor we will investigate the modulation of the expression of the CD45 (leukocytes) and IGCL (B-cells) in ruminal leukocytes by RT-Real Time PCR and the pattern of sub-population of ruminal leucocytes by FACS analysis, besides several other rumen fluid, faecal and blood parameters in both healthy and pathological conditions.