Curone / Vigo

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Ph.D. Student: Giulio Curone

Graduated in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan in July 2015 with the evaluation of 110/110 cum laude. He is author of the thesis “PTX3 in the goat mastitis caused by Staphylococcus Aureus, biomarker candidate?”. His main interest fields are the animal physiology (in particular reproduction, milk production, energetic metabolism and immune system) and biodiversity. His work is now focused on the physiological characterization of the Italian autochthonous cattle breeds in comparison with the cosmopolitan cattle breeds (Holstein and Brown).

Tutor: Daniele Vigo, DVM, PhD

Full Professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Milan for the SSD 02 Vet Veterinary Physiology.

2015 - Techincal member of table 4 in “The Milan Charter” – Expo 2015
2015- Expo 2015 – Honorary speaker in the “Sustainable agriculture forum”

Scientific and professional associations
1985- Member of the professional veterinary order of Pavia
1985- Member of the Società Italiana di Scienze Veterinarie (SISVet)
1985- Member of the Società Italiana di Patologia ed Allevamento Suino (SIPAS)
1986- Member of the Società Italiana di Buiatria
1986- Member of the International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS)
2008- Member of the Controlled Release Society (CRS)

Research interests
- Veterinary physiology, endocrinology, reproduction and lactation in domestics animals
- Animal welfare, stress and lactation
- 3D cellular culture system, neorgans and pseudorgans
- Controlled release technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology

- Author of 50 publications in international journals indexed in PubMed
- Author of 300 pubblication
- Author of 9 patents
- Author of four book chapters
- h index: 13 (Scopus)


The theme of biodiversity in recent years is becoming increasingly important and the United Nations General Assembly declared the 2011-2020 period as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.

In the last century the dairy livestock sector has undergone a considerable reduction of biodiversity caused by a very thrust selection with the only goal of the milk production increase. The preservation and rational use of autochthonous cattle breeds plays a key role in the maintenance of the biodiversity. These breeds have unique and peculiar features resulting from the interaction of its genetic background and the environmental conditions where they live.

[Figure 1. Italian autochthonous cattle breeds]

The animal husbandry of the 21st century has brought a decline in biodiversity of bovine breeds, due to the abandonment of autochthonous cows in favor of more productive cosmopolitan breeds (Holstein, Brown and Jersey) only following the milk production increase goal.

This mono-aptitude selective criterion has caused a decline in several aspects, the main ones being reproductive performances, quality of products and disease resistance. Moreover, the cost of their diets, which are based on starch and protein meals, has dramatically increased and there are great investments to cure recurring diseases. This situation have to change in the future, because the European Union requires for the next 50 years the reduction of the energy level of the ration (less cereals and more forage) and water consume and the reduction of the antibiotic consumption. In this light, the autochthonous cows, characterized by good food conversion and disease resistance, are the perfect model to address these challenges.

[Figure 2. Milk fat globules (green) and casein micelles (brown)]

In this project we will focus on the study of North Italian autochthonous cattle breeds (figure 1). In literature there are few studies on these breeds and are focused mainly on the genetics characterization in order to understand the link between the Italian native bovine population. The proposed study will focus on the characterization of the autochthonous dairy breeds of Northern Italy based on physiological parameters and their relation to adaptive capability:
• Metabolic physiology
we will study the metabolic balance during the open days period using many parameters such as ketone bodies in milk, blood concentration of 1- and 3-metylhistidine, thickness variation of the subcutaneous tissues and longissimus dorsi and hair cortisol concentration.
• Reproduction physiology
in order to investigate the reproductive efficiency we will monitor the open days period and the progesterone milk concentration.
• Production physiology
we will characterize the milk quality using the percentage of fat and protein, the dimensions of the fat milk globules and the fat acid composition of the fat milk globules (figure 2).
• Immune system physiology
in order to understand if the Italian autochthonous breeds could be predisposed or resistant to pathologies, we will study the white blood cell count, the leukocyte formula, the milk lysozyme activity and the PTX3 expression levels in the milk fat globules and milk somatic cells.
We will monitor this parameter, at specific time points, in the Holstein and at least 4 autochthonous breeds (Varzese, Bianca Val Padana, Cabannina, Reggiana), reared in same environmental conditions (i.e. same herd and same feeding conditions).
Finally, using these results, we could understand what kind of physiological error have been done in the Italian dairy cattle. Only with an accurate analysis of those errors we will be able to modulate the decisions for future innovation in the dairy production and industry. Moreover, the better knowledge of the autochthonous Italian breeds will allow an increase of their use, answering to the UE requirement of antibiotic reduction, energy food and water consumption.