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PhD Student: Luca Stucchi

He graduated in Veterinary Medicine in 2012 at University of Milan with a thesis on aerosol administration of antibiotic in racing horses (Supervisor: prof. F. Ferrucci). After acquiring professional license, he started his career as equine practitioner, working prevalently with racehorses. At the same time, he continued to attend as volunteer assistant to the Equine Internal and Sport Medicine Unit of the Large Animal Veterinary Hospital in Lodi (University of Milan). In 2013 he won a grant of the Specialization School of “Equine Medicine and Surgery”, University of Milan (Director prof. E. Ferro). During this period, he participated as presenting author to several national congresses (SIVE and SISVet), for one of which he won the SISVet award for Young Researcher. He also authored four peer-reviewed scientific publication, of which one as first author, concerning equine diseases. His main research interests focus on equine internal medicine (particularly equine respiratory disease) and equine sport medicine.

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Tutor: Prof. Francesco Ferrucci

He graduated as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1990 and attended his PhD program between 1994 and 1997, working on a research project concerning peri-endoscopic broncho-alveolar lavage technique as ancillary diagnostic test for the assessment of pneumonic diseases in calves. From 1997 to 2001 he worked as project researcher for the University of Milan, focusing his research activity on 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 the title of Associate Professor (VESPA department, University of Milan). Concerning teaching activities, he is responsible for the management of the classes and of the practical trainings about Equine Internal Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine (University of Milan). He is also the Director of the Specialization School 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.


Non-infectious chronic lower airway diseases are a major health problem in horses, and they could be defined as mild (Inflammatory Airway Disease, IAD) or severe (Recurrent Airway Obstruction, RAO, heaves) equine asthma. The aim of the project is to investigate the epigenetic changes occurring in asthmatic horses, and to determine whether they vary according to the disease severity. Horses will be diagnosed as RAO, IAD and controls based on history, a validated clinical score, and results of bronchoalveolar fluid cytology and trans-endoscopic bronchial biopsies. Both these samples will be used to perform a DNA methylation analysis (global and specific) and a profiling of some histone post-translational modifications (global and gene-related). In detail:

DNA methylation analysis:

1) Global methylation analysis of GC rich regions and global contents of methyl-cytosine in RAO, IAD and control horse

2) Identification of CpG islands in sequence promoters of the target gene by Methyl Primer Express.

3) MSP (Methylation Specific PCR) in CpG islands eventually present in RAO, IAD and control horses (if CpG islands are present in promoter of target genes)

Histone post-translational modification analysis:

1) Analysis of the global level of H3K4me3 and H4K16Ac (active marks) and H3K27me3 (repressive marks) in RAO, IAD and control horse (by fluorescent western blotting)

2) If step one is verified, analysis of histone-post-translational modification affected in RAO and IAD horses related to genes target by chromatin immunoprecipitation.

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