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Laboratory of Immunorheumatology and tissue regeneration


Laboratorio di Immunoreumatologia e rigenerazione tissutale

The Laboratory

The Laboratory of Immunorheumatology and Tissue Regeneration (LITR - formerly Laboratory of Immunology and Genetics) is part of the Department of Complex Orthopedic Pathologies of the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute.

It was established in 1988, following an agreement with the University of Bologna and, since 1989, it has been based at the Codivilla-Putti Institute  of the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute.

The Laboratory, being a University-run structure, carries out training activities in the Biomedical, Biotechnological and Healthcare profession area.

The Laboratory carries out bio-medical and bio-technological research in the area of inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system and in the field of regenerative medicine. To this end it cooperates with Clinical Units and other research laboratories of the IOR, as well as both national and international universities and research institutes.


Since its establishment, the main research topics of the group have included:

  • the study of the etiopathogenetic mechanisms of musculoskeletal diseases with great social impact
  • the analysis of pathophysiological changes in the immune system during aging and in osteoarticular pathologies
  • the development of innovative therapies in orthopedics, such as tissue engineering. 

Excellence activity

Over the years, the Laboratory has pursued a specialization in the study of the aforementioned themes and therefore proposes itself as a Reference Center for the study of osteoarticular diseases. 

Furthermore, the Laboratory is part of the IOR Biological Resource Center group and manages the collection of biological material from patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, linked to the Regional Registry of rheumatological diseases and treatments (BUR, June 1, 2017).

Since 2003, advanced histological analysis with rheumatological orientation  has been carried out on synovial tissue samples. Anatomo-pathologists and the rheumatologists jointly participate to this activity.

Know how

Researchers have  the appropriate know-how for planning, drafting and reporting national and international research projects on a competitive basis, also in the industrial field.

Research projects developed by the Laboratory are mainly funded  by Ministry of Health, MIUR, University of Bologna, Bank Foundations, European Union and Companies.


Since 2008 the Laboratory has obtained the conformity certification to the UNI EN ISO 9001: 2000 standard and subsequent amendments, for the management of pre-clinical research projects in the biomedical, technological, bioinformatic and pharmaceutical fields, for the management of clinical and organizational studies, for biobanking activities, diagnostic activities and test execution for third parties.

The Laboratory of Immunorheumatology and Tissue Regeneration Guide can be downloaded in the Documents section below.

Research Activity

Research Activity
Inflammatory and degenerative disorders of the musculoskeletal system

The activities are aimed at:

  • defining the etiopathogenetic mechanisms of musculoskeletal diseases of great social impact
  • identifying the local and systemic changes that these diseases and/or their treatment determine in the organism
  • studying molecules able to selectively inhibit specific functions, in order to promote the repair/regeneration of damaged osteocartilaginous tissue
  • developing innovative therapeutic methods and strategies aimed at preventing/treating osteoarthritis
  • identifying biomarkers predictive of the course of the main osteoarticular diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • defining the biological bases of individual response to drugs.


Specific activities

Characterization of biological markers of inflammation, of activity and progression of osteoarticular diseases and of therapeutic response

  • ex vivo studies on synovial tissue of patients with osteoarthritis-OA and rheumatoid arthritis-RA to analyze molecular mechanisms and cell populations involved in the development of the inflammatory and pain response
  • studies on cell models (of osteoarticular and/or mesenchymal derivation), prepared with cells isolated from patients with OA or RA, to identify possible therapeutic targets (with particular regard to the signaling mechanisms that control inflammation and degeneration of cartilage tissue) or to evaluate the effect of molecules, nutraceuticals or drugs for OA and/or RA or other osteoaticular diseases (viability, proliferation, cytotoxic activity, apoptosis and anti-inflammatory activity)
  • evaluations of soluble factors released in the synovial fluid and/or in the plasma, of relevance for the etiopathogenesis of OA, RA and genetic pathologies with cartilage involvement
  • evaluation of immune and bone cells interactions
  • advanced preclinical studies (cell therapy) on animal models such as cell therapies for the treatment of specific diseases (eg rheumatic diseases, osteoarthritis, muscular dystrophies) and characterization of the role of specific genes and proteins involved in the pathological process using transgenic animal models (in coll. with the Unit Preclinical and Surgical Studies).

Advanced histological analysis in the rheumatological field

Since 2003, advanced histological analysis with rheumatological orientation has been carried out on synovial tissue samples received from the IOR Clinical Units.

This  activity provides for histological and immunohistochemical analyses on synovial tissue collected during surgical procedures or arthroscopy examinations, and the evaluation by means of a score, carried out jointly by Anatomo-Pathologists and Rheumatologists.

This activity has the primary objective of supplying a qualified histological study service in the rheumatological field.

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Research Activity
Regenerative and Reparative Medicine

The activities are focused on:

  • morphological, structural and functional assessments of cell-biomaterial interactions, by using human and animal derived cell populations (mononuclear cells, mesenchymal cells from bone marrow or adipose tissue, cells of the musculoskeletal system and/or cell lines)
  • studies on  2D/3D culture models, in static and dynamic conditions, under mechanical stimulation, with variable oxygen concentrations
  • preparation of customized scaffolds functionalised with cells, through a 3D bioprinting platform, for applications in regenerative medicine of the musculoskeletal system.


Specific activities

Tissue regeneration

  • isolation, growth and differentiation of human and animal derived cells (mononuclear cells, mesenchymal cells obtained from bone marrow or adipose tissue, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, synoviocytes, tenocytes, ligament cells) and/or cell lines
  • phenotypic and functional characterization of single or co-cultured cell populations, maintained in 2D, 3D static conditions
  • dynamic growth systems using bioreactors with variable oxygen concentrations
  • 3D growth systems under computer-controlled mechanical stimulations. 

Evaluation and monitoring of the biosafety of products for cell therapy during in vitro manipulation

  • evaluation of cell replication potential and cell proliferation kinetics
  • genetic alteration studies during cellular aging and influence of oxidative stress 
  • DNA damage analysis (microsatellite instability analysis, histone H2A phosphorylation) and activation of genes involved in DNA repair systems
  • telomere length evaluation and quantification of the telomerase enzyme activity and expression.

Structural, morphological and functional evaluations of interactions between cells and biomaterials (scaffolds)

  • analysis of the interactions between chondrocytes and osteoblasts, mononuclear or mesenchymal cells with different biomaterials, both in basal conditions and during chondrogenic or osteogenic differentiation
  • realization of customized and cell functionalized scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications on the musculoskeletal system, through a bioprinting platform, which allows three-dimensional (3D) structure printing of natural and synthetic polymers or hydrogel polymerization also using radiological images acquired through a dual Energy TAC.
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Research Activity
Analysis area and methods
Morphological analysis
  • inclusion, section and staining of histological preparations
  • preparation of cytological samples
  • immunohistochemical staining and image analysis.
Cell biology
  • primary cultures from normal and pathological tissues, cultures of normal and transformed cell lines
  • multiple separations of cell populations
  • proliferative activity and cytolytic activity assays
  • transfection of nucleic acids, stable transduction of interfering RNA
  • immunoenzymatic reactions and dosages of soluble factors by multiplex technologies
  • immunofluorescence staining, flow cytometry
  • flow-fish.
Molecular biology
  • PCR (polymerase chain reaction), RT-PCR (reverse transcription-PCR), real-time PCR
  • genomic expression profiling, gene expression scanning
  • western blot
  • in situ hybridization.
Read more


Documents and videos about the ward/service

Documents and videos about the laboratory


Contacts and Locations


Secretary's office
tel. +39-051-6366803
fax +39-051-6366807

Where are our locations?

Centro di Ricerca Codivilla-Putti
via di Barbiano, 1/10
40136 Bologna (Italy)

Content updated
02/02/2022 13:18