Imperial College London

Vincenzo De Paola

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Reader in Translational Neuroscience



+44 (0)20 7594 2501vincenzo.depaola Website CV




Miss Lydia Lawson +44 (0)20 7594 1264




Burlington DanesHammersmith Campus





Brain plasticity and Repair

We study the regulation of neural network connectivity and function in the neocortex, a brain region affected in numerous developmental and degenerative diseases as well as acute injuries, which are incurable to date. Specifically, we are trying to understand basic principles of synaptic development and plasticity by visualizing and manipulating both rodent and, more recently, human cortical circuits directly in the living brain. We believe this knowledge is ultimately important to enhance the brain regenerative potential and understand "what goes wrong" in the numerous conditions affecting synapses, collectively called synaptopathies, which include neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism and schizophrenia as well as neurodegenerative ones such as Alzheimer's disease. The team uses a multidisciplinary approach, at the interface between neuroscience, genetics, human stem cell and tissue biology and high-resolution optical imaging. For more information visit our web page vivo Imaging1

In vivo Imaging2 (A) Cranial window overlying the somatosensory cortex. (B) Vasculature. (C) Same area as in B imaged with 2-photon microscopy. (D) Synaptic loss on lesioned cortical layer 6 axons. (E) Synaptic stability on lesioned cortical layer 2/3 axons. Arrows indicate synapses that are stable (white), gained (green) or lost (red). Scale bar in D, E: 10 μm. Ref. Holtmaat et al. Nature Protocols 2009 and Canty et al. Journal of Neuroscience 2013.

Below a 3D rendering of a regenerating axon (light blue) making a new connection on a dendrite (grey) in the adult brain (from Canty et al. Nature Communication 2013)


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Canty A, Jackson J, Huang L, et al., 2020, In vivo imaging of injured cortical axons reveals a rapid onset form of Wallerian degeneration, BMC Biology, ISSN:1741-7007

Real R, Peter M, Trabalza A, et al., 2018, In vivo modeling of human neuron dynamics and Down syndrome., Science, Vol:362

Grillo FW, West L, De Paola V, 2015, Removing synaptic breaks on learning, Nature Neuroscience, Vol:18, ISSN:1546-1726, Pages:1062-1064

Canty AJ, Teles-Grilo Ruivo LM, Nesarajah C, et al., 2013, Synaptic elimination and protection after minimal injury depend on cell type and their prelesion structural dynamics in the adult cerebral cortex., J Neurosci, Vol:33, Pages:10374-10383

Allegra Mascaro, Cesare, Sacconi, et al., 2013, In vivo single branch axotomy induces GAP-43 dependent sprouting and synaptic remodeling in cerebellar cortex, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Canty AJ, Huang L, Jackson JS, et al., 2013, In-vivo single neuron axotomy triggers axon regeneration to restore synaptic density in specific cortical circuits, Nature Communications, Vol:4, ISSN:2041-1723

Grillo FW, Song S, Teles-Grilo Ruivo LM, et al., 2013, Increased axonal bouton dynamics in the aging mouse cortex., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Vol:110, Pages:E1514-E1523

Canty AJ, De Paola V, 2011, Axonal Reconstructions Going Live, Neuroinformatics, Vol:9, ISSN:1539-2791, Pages:129-131

Holtmaat A, Bonhoeffer T, Chow DK, et al., 2009, Long-term, high-resolution imaging in the mouse neocortex through a chronic cranial window., Nat Protoc, Vol:4, Pages:1128-1144

De Paola V, Holtmaat A, Knott G, et al., 2006, Cell type-specific structural plasticity of axonal branches and boutons in the adult neocortex, Neuron, Vol:49, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:861-875

Portera-Cailliau C, Weimer RM, De Paola V, et al., 2005, Diverse modes of axon elaboration in the developing neocortex, PLOS Biology, Vol:3, ISSN:1545-7885, Pages:1473-1487

De Paola V, Arber S, Caroni P, 2003, AMPA receptors regulate dynamic equilibrium of presynaptic terminals in mature hippocampal networks, Nature Neuroscience, Vol:6, ISSN:1097-6256, Pages:491-500

Livet J, Sigrist M, Stroebel S, et al., 2002, ETS gene Pea3 controls the central position and terminal arborization of specific motor neuron pools, Neuron, Vol:35, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:877-892

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