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Dr. Michele Vacca



About Michele

Michele is a Tenured Assistant Professor at the Department of Interdisciplinary Medicine of the University of Bari (Italy) and Visiting Researcher in TVPLab, WT/MRC institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge. After his medical studies at the University of Bari (Italy, 2002), Michele specialised in Internal Medicine (2008) and completed his PhD in Oncology and Molecular and Clinical Pathology at the University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy) in 2012. From 2008 to 2014 Michele was also research fellow of the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud (Italy), and visiting clinician at the Ambulatory of Clinical Nutrition, Clinica Medica Murri, University of Bari. From 2014 to 2019, Michele was Senior Clinician Scientist at the Medical Research Council – Human Nutrition Research (MRC-HNR) and at the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge, and research fellow in TVP Lab. From 2019 to 2020, he was Clinical Research Associate in TVP lab. In 2015-2020 he also worked as Clinical Fellow/Consultant at the Cambridge University Hospitals (Lipid and NASH services).   



Research Interests

Michele’s main clinical and scientific interests are the molecular mechanisms linking metabolic syndrome to its complication, including NASH, HCC, and CVR. His research questions are:


1) Identifying lipid related metabolic pathways leading to tissue damage responses (inflammation, fibrosis, compensatory cell regeneration) of key metabolic organs (Liver/AT/Immune cells);


2) Dissecting the mechanisms trough which metabolic stress and tissue damage dysregulate hepatic metabolism thus promoting cardio-metabolic risk and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC);


3) Dissecting the relationship between Obesity and Cancer.


Research strategy: System biology approaches to identify key dysregulated processes linked to MetS/liver disease; translational validation of potential targets.My PhD focussed on the role of nutrient-sensing Nuclear Receptors and miRNAs in the modulation of:


1) metabolism and inflammation in adipose tissue and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with MetS and CAD;


2) the metabolic control of hepatocytes damage, proliferation and renewal, as well as hepatocellular carcinogenesis.


Michele collaborates with TVP lab to European Consortia (Horizon 2020 and IMI2) aimed to study NASH pathophysiology and biomarkers toward the integration of large “omics” datasets: he is co-leading with Prof Vidal-Puig and Lilly the generation of the largest collection of pre-clinical NASH models to develop a coherent pre-clinical pipeline for translation in clinical practice of novel NASH treatments.


Vacca M, Leslie J, Virtue S, Lam BYH, Govaere O, Tiniakos D, Snow S, Davies S, Petkevicius K, Tong Z, Peirce V, Juul Nielsen M, Ament Z, Li W, Kostrzewski T, Leeming DJ, Ratziu V, Allison MED, Anstee QM, Griffin JL, Oakley F, Vidal-Puig A*. Bone morphogenetic protein 8B promotes the progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.. Nature Metabolism 2020 Jun;2(6):514-531. doi: 10.1038/s42255-020-0214-9  – PMID: 32694734.

Hall Z, Chiarugi D, Charidemou E, Leslie J, Scott E, Pelligrinet L, Allison M, Anstee QM, Evan GI, Hoare M, Vidal-Puig A, Oakley F, Vacca M, Griffin JL*. Lipid remodelling in hepatocyte proliferation and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2020 May 27. Online ahead of print. doi: 10.1002/hep.31391 (IF2019: 14.679) – PMID: 32460431

Azzu V, Vacca M, Virtue S, Allison M, Vidal-Puig A. Adipose tissue-liver cross talk in the control of whole-body metabolism: implications in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gastroenterology 2020 May;158(7):1899-1912. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.12.054. (IF2019: 17.373) – PMID: 32061598

D’Amore S, Härdfeldt J, Cariello M, Graziano G, Copetti M, Di Tullio G, Piglionica M, Scialpi N, Sabbà C, Palasciano G, Vacca M*, Moschetta A*. Identification of miR-9-5p as direct regulator of ABCA1 and HDL-driven reverse cholesterol transport in circulating CD14+ cells of patients with metabolic syndrome. Cardiovascular Research 2018 Jul 1;114(8):1154-1164. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvy077. (IF2018: 7.014) –  PMID: 29584810

Sanders F,  Acharjee A,  Walker C, Marney L, Roberts LD, Imamura F, Jenkins B, Case J, Ray S, Virtue S, Vidal-Puig A, Kuh D, Hardy R, Allison M, Forouhi N, Murray AJ, Wareham N, Vacca M, Koulman A, Griffin JL. Hepatic steatosis risk is partly driven by increased de novo lipogenesis following carbohydrate consumption. Genome Biol. 2018 Jun 20;19(1):79. doi: 10.1186/s13059-018-1439-8. (IF2018: 14.028) – PMID: 29925420

Hall Z, Bond NJ, Ashmore T, Sanders F, Ament Z, Wang X, Murray AJ, Bellafante E, Virtue S, Vidal-Puig A, Allison M, Davies SE, Koulman A, Vacca M, Griffin JL. Lipid zonation and phospholipid remodeling in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Hepatology. 2017 Apr;65(4):1165-1180. doi: 10.1002/hep.28953. (IF2017: 14.079) –  PMID: 27863448

Salvia R, D’Amore S, Graziano G, Capobianco C, Sangineto M, Paparella D, de Bonfils P, Palasciano G, Vacca M*. Short-term benefits of an unrestricted-calorie traditional Mediterranean diet, modified with a reduced consumption of carbohydrates at evening, in overweight-obese patients. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Mar;68(2):234-248. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1228100. (IF2017: 2.317) – PMID: 27615385

D’Amore S, Vacca M, Cariello M, Graziano G, D’Orazio A, Salvia R, Sasso RC, Sabbà C, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Genes and miRNA expression signatures in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in healthy subjects and patients with metabolic syndrome after acute intake of extra virgin olive oil. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Nov;1861(11):1671-1680. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2016.07.003. (IF2016: 5.547) – PMID: 27422371

Vacca M, Di Eusanio M, Cariello M, Graziano G, D’Amore S, Dimitri Petridis F, D’Orazio A, Salvatore L, Tamburro A, Folesani G, Rutigliano D, Pellegrini F, Sabbà C, Palasciano G, Di Bartolomeo R, Moschetta A. Integrative miRNA and Whole-Genome Analyses of Epicardial Adipose Tissue in Patients with Coronary Atherosclerosis. Cardiovasc Res. 2016 Feb 1;109(2):228-39. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvv266. (IF2016: 5.878) – PMID: 26645979

Vacca M, D’Amore S, Graziano G, D’Orazio A, Cariello M, Massafra V, Salvatore L, Martelli N, Murzilli S, Lo Sasso G, Mariani-Costantini R, Moschetta A. Clustering nuclear receptors in liver regeneration identifies candidate modulators of hepatocyte proliferation and hepatocarcinoma. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 12;9(8):e104449. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104449. (IF2014: 3.234) – PMID: 25116592

Vacca M, Murzilli S, Salvatore L, Di Tullio G, D’Orazio A, Lo Sasso G, Graziano G, Pinzani M, Chieppa M, Mariani-Costantini R, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Neuron-derived orphan receptor 1 promotes proliferation of quiescent hepatocytes. Gastroenterology 2013;144:1518-1529. (IF2012: 12.821) – PMID: 23462179

Vacca M, Degirolamo C, Massafra V, Polimeno L, Mariani-Costantini R, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Nuclear receptors in regenerating liver and hepatocellular carcinoma. Mol Cell Endocrinol 2013;368:108-119. (IF2012: 4.039) – PMID: 22789748

D’Amore S, Vacca M, Graziano G, D’Orazio A, Cariello M, Martelli N, Di Tullio G, Salvia R, Grandaliano G, Belfiore A, Pellegrini F, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Nuclear receptors expression chart in peripheral blood mononuclear cells identifies patients with Metabolic Syndrome. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Dec;1832 (12):2289-301. (IF2012: 4.910) – PMID: 24060638

Cama A, Verginelli F, Lotti LV, Napolitano F, Morgano A, D’Orazio A, Vacca M, Perconti S, Pepe F, Romani F, Vitullo F, di Lella F, Visone R, Mannelli M, Neumann HPH, Raiconi G, Paties C, Moschetta A, Tagliaferri R, Veronese A, Sanna M, Mariani-Costantini R. Integrative Genetic, Epigenetic And Pathological Analysis Of Paraganglioma Reveals Complex Dysregulation Of Notch Signaling. Acta Neuropathologica 2013; 126(4): 575-94. (IF2012: 9.734) – PMID: 23955600

Lo Sasso G, Bovenga F, Murzilli S, Salvatore L, Di TG, Martelli N, D’Orazio A, Rainaldi S, Vacca M, Mangia A, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Liver x receptors inhibit proliferation of human colorectal cancer cells and growth of intestinal tumors in mice. Gastroenterology 2013;144:1497-1507. (IF2012: 12.821) – PMID: 23419360

Lo Sasso G, Celli N, Caboni M, Murzilli S, Salvatore L, Morgano A, Vacca M, Pagliani T, Parini P, Moschetta A. Down-regulation of the LXR transcriptome provides the requisite cholesterol levels to proliferating hepatocytes. Hepatology 2010;51:1334-1344. (IF2010: 11.044) – PMID: 20044803

Vacca M, Degirolamo C, Mariani-Costantini R, Palasciano G, Moschetta A. Lipid-sensing nuclear receptors in the pathophysiology and treatment of the metabolic syndrome. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med 2011;3:562-587. (IF2011: 2.941) – PMID: 21755605

Vacca M, Krawczyk M, Petruzzelli M, Sasso RC, Van Erpecum KJ, Palasciano G, van Berge-Henegouwen GP, Moschetta A, Portincasa P. Current treatments of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Curr Med Chem 2007;14:2081-2094. (IF2007: 4.944) – PMID: 17691949

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