Ceriotti / Ferrucci

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Serena Ceriotti graduated as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in December 2013 at the University of Milan with a master thesis about the assessment of sensitivity and specificity of ultrasonography for the diagnosis of malabsorption syndromes in horses, obtaining a final grade of 110/110 cum laude. Before graduation, in 2012, she attended a four months practical training in Equine Medicine and Surgery at the Maisons-Alfort University Equine Hospital (France), under the supervision of Dr Celine Mespoulhes-Rivière. After graduation, in 2014, both she continued participating to clinical, didactic and research activities of the Equine Internal Medicine and Sport Medicine Unit of the Large Animal Veterinary Hospital in Lodi (University of Milan), under the supervision of Prof. Francesco Ferrucci, and she worked as a private veterinarian, particularly practicing equine emergency medicine and intensive care in collaboration with the veterinary team of “Clinica Veterinaria della Brughiera” (Varese). During the same year, she participated as presenting author to the SisVet Congress (Pisa, june 2014), she obtained the qualification as FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) Permitted Treating Veterinarian (November 2014) and she attended a one month practical training in Working Equides Medicine and Surgery at the charity veterinary hospital American Fondouk (Fes, Morocco), under the supervision of Dr. Gigi Kay (August 2014). Her main research interests concern equine internal medicine (particularly equine gastroenterology) and equine sport medicine.


Tutor: Francesco Ferrucci, Associate Professor, PhD, DVM
Graduated as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1990 and attended his PhD program between 1994 and 1997, working on a research project about the role of bronchoalveolar lavage made via a paraendoscopic technique as ancillary diagnostic test for the assessment of pneumonic diseases in calves. From 1997 to 2001 he worked as a project researcher for the University of Milan, focusing his research activity on the diagnostic value of dynamic tests performed using high-speed treadmill for the assessment of respiratory diseases in sport horses. He worked as Assistant Professor from 2001 to 2010 when he got his actual academic title of Associate Professor (VESPA department, University of Milan). Concerning teaching activities, he is responsible both for the management of the classes about Equine Semeiology and Internal Medicine, of the practical trainings in Equine Internal Medicine and Sport medicine, school of Veterinary Medicine (University of Milan), and for the organization of the didactic activity. School of Specialization in “Equine Medicine and Surgery”, Large Animal Veterinary hospital (University of Milan).His main research interest include equine sport medicine, particularly focusing on respiratory, cardiovascular, metabolic, neuromuscular assessment during exercise using the high-speed treadmill.


The project aims to assess the potential beneficial role of ghrelin (a GH-releasing peptidic hormone with an additional anti-inflammatory activity) for the prevention/treatment of equine joint chronic inflammation such as osteoarthritis (OA).


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disorder of movable joints characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage and bone that arises when catabolic processes of joint tissues (stimulated by mechanical overload) overwhelm anabolic repair processes. OA represents a common disease in athletic horses: strenuous exercise may cause joint mechanical stress that exceeds cartilage and bone capability to adapt. An important role in the pathogenesis of OA is played by the synovial membrane: it responds to mechanical injury by releasing several biochemical mediators responsible for cartilage degradation, inflammation and pain which is a frequent cause of equine lameness. Therefore, there are two main goals for medical treatment of OA in horses: reducing pain (lameness) and minimizing the progression of joint degeneration. Ghrelin showed an important anti-inflammatory activity in treating experimentally-induced arthritis in rats. Additionally, in vitro and in vivo studies reported that ghrelin influences activity of human and rats chondrocytes and bone cells, modulating the synthesis of eicosanoids in the cartilage and stimulating osteoblast proliferation and differentiation.
The research project includes both a preliminary laboratory step and a following clinical trial. The preliminary laboratory step consists of the evaluation of the in-vitro effects of ghrelin on equine osteoblasts and chondrocytes primary cultures: the main goal is to examine whether or not ghrelin is able to counteract the stimulation of bone and cartilage resorption and the inhibition of bone formation induced by exposure of bone cells to TNFα.


The clinical trial consists of a in-vivo perspective case-control study that aims to assess the efficacy of ghrelin in treating joint inflammation, degeneration and pain induced by OA: improvement of clinical signs, diagnostic image findings, quantitative reduction of markers of inflammation in synovial fluid samples will be compared between affected joints treated with a combination ghrelin + hyaluronate and affected joints treated only with hyaluronate.