Molecular and Cellular Basis of Selective Vulnerability


Motor neuron diseases are a group of disorders that may affect either in young or adult age and in most cases lead to complete paralysis of the skeletal muscles and a poor prognosis. Different genetic mutations have been identified to be responsible of the selective death of motor neurons, although is still unclear which are the converging mechanisms underlying the phenomenon. Understanding these processes and try to interfere with them, is still an open challenge between the neuroscientists working in the field.

The workshop will present and discuss novel information related to the complexity of motor neuron diseases providing new hypotheses that hopefully may indicate promising ways toward the treatment of these diseases.

1) The key question of why motor neurons are so selectively vulnerable to an inherited genetic mutation will be faced throughout the analysis of the developmental biology of motor neurons. A comparative analysis between vulnerable and spared motor neurons, and the mechanisms inducing endogenous neuroprotection or sensitization of a given group of motor neurons will be analyzed.

2) Cells surrounding motor neurons in the CNS, like glial cells, or interacting with their axons in the periphery, like Schwann or even their target cells, the muscle cells, can be affected and/or can modulate motor neurons fate. These complex cellular events and relations, also involve the immune cells which play key roles in pathogenic mechanisms of motor neuron diseases. Specialists in different cellular fields will discuss the relative importance of each compartment and of their interaction to influence the disease progression.

3) The complexity of the specific mechanisms involved in the degeneration of motor neurons (from excitotoxicity, through mitochondrial dysfunction, endoplasmic reticulum response and oxidative stress up to the more recent hypotheses that involve the dysfunction of RNA metabolism, the protein interaction and the impairment of protein quality control) will be extensively discussed.

To encourage the participation of PhD student and post docs at their initial career we will a minimum of 6 fellowships supported by IBRO to cover the registration and other costs for up to 500 Euro each. Applicants qualified for this fellowship:

  1. -must be attendant to the 9th FENS in Milano under 30 years of age

  2. -must provide full address and a brief description (not more than 250 words) of his/her background in the neuroscience research and motivate the reason of his/her interest to attend the meeting.

  3. -Priority will be given to applicants from developing countries based on the classification of World Bank (

Deadline for submission (E-MAIL APPLICATION to June 13th (awardees notified by June 16th)

Universita degli Studi di Milano

Universita degli Studi di Genova

Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri


Max 80 participants

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Sala Napoleonica, Palazzo Greppi, Universita degli Studi di Milano

via San Antonio 10 - Milan, Italy - July 3-4, 2014


A Satellite Event of the

9th FENS FORUM of Neuroscience 2014