Gian Luigi Russo

Name: Gian Luigi
Surname: Russo
Skill: Research Director
Phone: (Office) +39 0825 299 561
Phone: (Lab) +39 0825 299 261
Fax: +39 0825 299 561
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Keywords : phytochemicals; polyphenols; botanicals; disease prevention; health; cancer; chemoprevention; antioxidant; protein kinases; cell division cycle; apoptosis; senescence; autophagy.
Curriculum EN: (Click here to view)


Research Interests

 -Background: Phytochemicals trigger cellular pathways leading to the prevention of pathological conditions associated with cancers, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Although this positive association evidenced by interventional and observational studies is debated and subjected to criticism, biochemical and genetic studies on cellular and animal models on the mechanism(s) of action of phytochemicals provide a functional explanation of how and why a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can protect against degenerative diseases. The apparent contradiction existing between epidemiological observations and molecular studies on pre-clinical models generated, in our opinion, a shadow zone in the field cleverly exploited commercially by companies producing and distributing dietary supplements, nutraceuticals and functional foods. In fact, the market of food supplements is invaded by products enriched with bioactive compounds (largely polyphenols) claiming miraculous healthy effects against cancer and other degenerative diseases.

 -Aims: In the attempt to discriminate between facts and fancies regarding the capacity of phytochemicals to ameliorate pathological conditions, it is necessary to critically consider some key issues, such as low bioavailability and metabolism. Because of these processes, circulating concentrations of phytochemicals and their metabolites are extremely low, suggesting that a regular diet, or a diet supplemented with phytochemical-enriched foods cannot provide adequate amounts (micromolar concentrations) of compounds compatible with any described chemopreventive effect. Therefore, when considering potential clinical applications of phytochemicals, it is important to differentiate between pharmacological (hundreds of milligrams in concentrated doses) and nutritional doses (a few milligrams diluted in the diet). In the latter case, low concentrations do not saturate metabolic pathways that rely on the supply of cofactors, such as UDP-glucuronic acid and circulating, and unconjugated molecules are not found in the blood. Only after the intake of large doses, which saturate conjugation enzymes, free aglycones can be detected in the plasma, usually for a short window of time. The drawback of the administration of pharmacological doses of phytochemical is, of course, the presence of cytotoxic effects. The experimental hypothesis on which we are intensively working regards the demonstration that the low bioavailability of phytochemicals favors (perhaps) the well-being, but represents an obstacle to their pharmacological application. In contrast, the pleiotropic functions of such compounds results in advantages when administered as drugs, since they can trigger multiple cellular targets.

 -Perspective: This research activity will provide new career perspectives to the members of the group developing expertise in managing independent research, gaining complementary skills (supervision, leadership, working in a team, exchange of knowledge). This transfer of knowledge will meet the requirements to qualify for academic position within CNR and Universities, or to respond to the increasing demands of the industrial sector in the field. The focus of our work meets the objectives of Horizon Europe Cluster1: “Health”, aimed at improving and protecting the health and well-being of citizens of all ages ameliorating treatments of large-scale social diseases. Finally, efforts will be made to propose measures for an adequate results dissemination to the large public (e.g., press release, web site, open-day to target teachers and high school students) and to the academic sector (e.g., seminars, peer-reviewed open access publications, conferences presentations)


Key Publications

(selected pubblication in the last 5 years)

M. Russo, C. Spagnuolo, S. Moccia, I. Tedesco, F. Lauria, G.L. Russo. Biochemical and Cellular Characterization of New Radio-Resistant Cell Lines Reveals a Role of Natural Flavonoids to Bypass Senescence. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 23(1):301 (2022). PMID: 35008725
G.L. Russo, S. Moccia, M. Russo, C. Spagnuolo. Redox regulation by carotenoids: Evidence and conflicts for their application in cancer. Biochem. Pharmacol. 194:114838 (2021). PMID: 34774845
C. Cervellera, M. Russo, S. Dotolo, A. Facchiano, G.L. Russo. STL1, a New AKT Inhibitor, Synergizes with Flavonoid Quercetin in Enhancing Cell Death in A Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Cell Line. Molecules. 26(19):5810 (2021). PMID: 34641354
I. Tedesco, C. Spagnuolo, G.L. Russo, M. Russo, C. Cervellera, S. Moccia. The Pro-Oxidant Activity of Red Wine Polyphenols Induces an Adaptive Antioxidant Response in Human Erythrocytes. Antioxidants 10(5):800 (2021). PMID: 34070135
A.G. Atanasov, S.B. Zotchev, V.M. Dirsch, I. Erdogan Orhan, M. Banach, J.M. Rollinger, D. Barreca, W. Weckwerth, R. Bauer, E.A. Bayer, M. Majeed, A. Bishayee, V. Bochkov, G.K. Bonn, N. Braidy, F. Bucar, A. Cifuentes, G. D’Onofrio, M. Bodkin, M. Diederich, A.T. Dinkova-Kostova, T. Efferth, K. El Bairi, N. Arkells, T.-P. Fan, B.L. Fiebich, M. Freissmuth, M.I. Georgiev, S. Gibbons, K.M. Godfrey, C.W. Gruber, J. Heer, L.A. Huber, E. Ibanez, A. Kijjoa, A.K. Kiss, A. Lu, F.A. Macias, M.J.S. Miller, A. Mocan, R. Müller, F. Nicoletti, G. Perry, V.a Pittalà, L. Rastrelli, M. Ristow, G.L. Russo, A. Sanches Silva, D. Schuster, H. Sheridan, K. Skalicka-Woźniak, L. Skaltsounis, E. Sobarzo-Sánchez, D.S. Bredt, H. Stuppner, A. Sureda, N.T. Tzvetkov, R.A. Vacca, B.B. Aggarwal, M. Battino, F. Giampieri, M. Wink, J.-L. Wolfender, J. Xiao, A. Wai Kan Yeung, G. Lizard, M.A. Popp, M. Heinrich, I. Berindan-Neagoe, M. Stadler, M. Daglia, R. Verpoorte, C. T Supuran. Natural products in drug discovery: Advances and opportunities. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 20(3):200-216 (2021). PMID: 33510482
D.J. Klionsky, A.K. Abdel-Aziz, S. Abdelfatah, M. Abdellatif, A. Abdoli, …. G.L. Russo…Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (4th edition). Autophagy 17(1): 1-382 (2021). PMID: 33634751
G.L. Russo, A. Siani, V. Fogliano, J.M. Geleijnse, R. Giacco, S. Giampaoli, L. Iacoviello, D. Kromhout, L. Lionetti, A. Naska, N. Pellegrini, G. Riccardi, F. Sofi, M. Vitale, P. Strazzullo. The Mediterranean Diet from past to future: key concepts from the Second “Ancel Keys” International Seminar. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. 31(3):717-732 (2021). PMID: 33558092
I. Tedesco, C. Spagnuolo, S. Bilotto, AA. Izzo, F. Borrelli, D. Rigano, M. Russo, F. Tarricone, G.L. Russo. Antioxidant and Chemopreventive Effect of Aliophen® Formulation Based on Malts and Hops. Antioxidants (Basel), 10(1):29 (2020). PMID: 33396660
M. Russo, S. Moccia, C. Spagnuolo, I. Tedesco, G.L. Russo. Roles of Flavonoids against Coronavirus Infection. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 328:109211 (2020). PMID: 32735799
G.L. Russo, C. Spagnuolo, M. Russo, I. Tedesco, S. Moccia, C. Cervellera. Mechanisms of aging and potential role of selected polyphenols in extending healthspan. Biochem. Pharmacol. 173:133719 (2020). PMID: 31759977
Patent. Title: (EN) A METHOD FOR PRODUCING A POLYPHENOLIC COMPOSITION FROM BARLEY MALT (inventors: Russo Gian Luigi; IT; Tarricone, Fabrizio; IT; Tedesco, Idolo; IT)


Publication Number: WO/2019/038658 (28.02.2019)

International Application No. PCT/IB2018/056283 (20.08.2018)


Group scientists

Stefania Moccia

Carmela Spagnuolo

Research Technicians

Maria Russo

Idolo Tedesco

Research fellows

Carmen Cervellera

Valentina Spada


Eva Adabbo

CNR Scholar Fellow

Marco Rosapane

Undergraduate Students

Anna Maria Iole Meola


(last page updated June 2022)