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Dr Alessandro Colasanti

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Dr Alessandro Colasanti

Reader in Psychiatry
T: +44 (0)1273 876769
Location: Trafford Centre for Medical Research, BSMS, University of Sussex, BN1 9RY

Areas of expertise: Biological mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of affective disorders, by using a translational approach that integrates multimodal neuroimaging modalities (PET and quantitative MRI) and pharmacological approaches in healthy human subjects and clinical populations.  

Research areas: Role of brain mitochondrial function and oxygen metabolism in the pathophysiology of mood disorders; Imaging of neuroinflammation and Immunopsychiatry research; PET studies on brain endogenous opioids.  



Dr Colasanti developed an inter-disciplinary vision and specialised in PET and MRI brain imaging techniques through doctoral and post-doctoral clinical-academic positions at Maastricht University, Imperial College London, Imanova PET Imaging Centre (now Invicro), and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.



Dr Colasanti’s research investigates the biological mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of affective disorders, by using a translational approach that integrates multimodal neuroimaging modalities (PET and quantitative MRI) and pharmacological approaches in healthy human subjects and clinical populations. The aims of Dr Colasanti’s research is to translate promising findings in neuroscience and neuropharmacology into discoveries that have direct clinical relevance. He hopes to contribute to understand the causes of severe and disabling brain disorders and to develop new and better ways to treat them. 

Examples of Dr Colasanti’s past contributions to science include early work leading to the characterisation of the human affective response to CO2, an powerful “primal emotion” with analogies to panic attacks; he then focused on the development of an experimental paradigm to measure endogenous opioid release in human subjects brain using PET with pharmacological challenges; he later focused on brain imaging of neuroinflammation, combining  PET imaging of microglia with structural and functional MRI imaging techniques, leading to the direct characterisation of neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with Multiple Sclerosis, and of its role in the genesis of affective symptoms.   

Current research work, alongside specialist clinical work for treatment of patients with severe mood disorders, focuses on integrating neuroimaging and pharmacology paradigms for the translational study of mitochondrial function and brain bioenergetics in people with affective disorders. 

Selected publications

Turton S, Myers JF, Mick I, Colasanti A, Venkataraman A, Durant C, Waldman A, Brailsford A, Parkin MC, Dawe G, Rabiner EA, Gunn RN, Lightman SL, Nutt DJ,Lingford-Hughes A. Blunted endogenous opioid release following an oraldexamphetamine challenge in abstinent alcohol-dependent individuals. MolPsychiatry. 2018 Jun 25. 

Datta G, Colasanti A, Rabiner EA, Gunn RN, Malik O, Ciccarelli O, Nicholas R, Van Vlierberghe E, Van Hecke W, Searle G, Santos-Ribeiro A, Matthews PM.Neuroinflammation and its relationship to changes in brain volume and whitematter lesions in multiple sclerosis. Brain. 2017 Nov 1;140(11):2927-2938. 

Young AH, Colasanti A. Carving depression at its joints? World Psychiatry.2016 Oct;15(3):239-241. 
Colasanti A, Guo Q, Giannetti P, Wall MB, Newbould RD, Bishop C, Onega M,Nicholas R, Ciccarelli O, Muraro PA, Malik O, Owen DR, Young AH, Gunn RN, PicciniP, Matthews PM, Rabiner EA. Hippocampal Neuroinflammation, FunctionalConnectivity, and Depressive Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis. Biol Psychiatry.2016 Jul 1;80(1):62-72. 

Colasanti A, Guo Q, Muhlert N, Giannetti P, Onega M, Newbould RD, CiccarelliO, Rison S, Thomas C, Nicholas R, Muraro PA, Malik O, Owen DR, Piccini P, GunnRN, Rabiner EA, Matthews PM. In Vivo Assessment of Brain White MatterInflammation in Multiple Sclerosis with (18)F-PBR111 PET. J Nucl Med. 2014Jul;55(7):1112-8. 

Guo Q, Colasanti A, Owen DR, Onega M, Kamalakaran A, Bennacef I, Matthews PM, Rabiner EA, Turkheimer FE, Gunn RN. Quantification of the specific translocatorprotein signal of 18F-PBR111 in healthy humans: a genetic polymorphism effect on in vivo binding. J Nucl Med. 2013 Nov;54(11):1915-23. 

Colasanti A, Owen DR, Grozeva D, Rabiner EA, Matthews PM, Craddock N, YoungAH. Bipolar Disorder is associated with the rs6971 polymorphism in the geneencoding 18 kDa Translocator Protein (TSPO). Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013Nov;38(11):2826-9.  

Colasanti A, Searle GE, Long CJ, Hill SP, Reiley RR, Quelch D, Erritzoe D,Tziortzi AC, Reed LJ, Lingford-Hughes AR, Waldman AD, Schruers KR, Matthews PM, Gunn RN, Nutt DJ, Rabiner EA. Endogenous opioid release in the human brain reward system induced by acute amphetamine administration. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Sep 1;72(5):371-7. 

Carhart-Harris RL, Erritzoe D, Williams T, Stone JM, Reed LJ, Colasanti A,Tyacke RJ, Leech R, Malizia AL, Murphy K, Hobden P, Evans J, Feilding A, Wise RG,Nutt DJ. Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studieswith psilocybin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Feb 7;109(6):2138-43. 

Colasanti A, Salamon E, Schruers K, van Diest R, van Duinen M, Griez EJ.Carbon dioxide-induced emotion and respiratory symptoms in healthy volunteers.Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Dec;33(13):3103-10. 

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