Dipartimento di Scienze biomediche


Raffaella Isola


Work address:

Department of Biomedical Sciences (ex Cytomorphology)

Cittadella Universitaria di Monserrato

SS 554 Bivio Sestu

09042 Monserrato (CA)



Work phone: +39 070 675 4041

Work fax: +39 070 675 4003

e-mail: isola@unica.it

Professional Profile


April 2006- present: Assistant professor (tenured), School of Medicine, University of Cagliari, Scientific Discipline Group 05/H2 Histology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cittadella Universitaria di Monserrato, Cagliari, Italy


January-April 2018 visiting researcher, supported by COST Action CA 15203 Mitoeagle, at the of Laboratory of Fundamental and Applied Bioenergetics, University of Grenoble-Alpes, France. The project, in collaboration with Dr. Hervè Doubouchaud, dealt with the oxidative capacity of heart mitochondria in AMPK deficient mice and control ones. 


October 2012- February 2013 visiting researcher, supported by DAAD (Deuscher Akademische Austausch Dienst) at the laboratory of Prof. Oliver Kann, Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Heidelberg University, Germany. Research dealt with the insulin effect on gamma oscillations in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures.


June 2010 visiting researcher, supported by the International Cooperation Agreement between the Universities of Cagliari – Gothenburg, at the laboratory of Prof. Jörgen Ekström, Division of Pharmacology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden. Our group have a collaboration on salivary glands physiology.


January 2003 – February 2006: Research Fellow, at the laboratories of Image Analysis and Cell Biology directed by Prof. Diaz (2003-4) and Electron Microscopy directed by Prof. Riva (2004-6), Department of Cytomorphology, University of Cagliari, Italy. (PhD defense on February 12th, 2003).


1998 – 2002: PhD in Morphological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy. Thesis:”Mitochondrial potential in fluorescence microscopy: methodological problems, fluctuations and dependency on the permeability transition pore”. Supervisor: Prof. Giacomo Diaz.


1997 – 1998:  Researcher (temporary position), Department of Cytomorphology, University of Cagliari, Italy, laboratory of Image Analysis and Cell Biology directed by Prof. Diaz.


1994 – 1996: Visiting Scholar, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Molecular Psychopharmacology, directed by Prof. Maria Hadjiconstantinou-Neff, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43221, USA.  Research dealt with nicotine addiction in a mouse model.


January – July 1994: Research Collaborator, Neurosciences Department “B.B. Brodie”, directed by Prof. G.L. Gessa. University of Cagliari, Italy. Research dealt with drug and alcohol dependence in rat models.


1993: Neuropharmacology Further Training Course (attended with a scholarship supported by the Sardinian Region) at the Experimental Biology Department, Neurosciences Division, Prof. G. Biggio Chairman. University of Cagliari, Italy.


March 1992: Bachelor Degree in Biological Sciences 110/110 cum laude, achieved at the University of Cagliari, Italy.




2008- present: member of the teaching committee, School of Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy.

Academic year 2007-082011-12:  Histology and Embryology Course, School of Medicine, Univ. Cagliari, Lecturer, solo-taught class plus practical sessions.

Academic year 2006—2007- present: Histology course, Lecturer, solo-taught class, for several different degrees belonging to the area of Health Sciences, the latter being the degree in Sport Sciences.




2012- 2015   Dr Paola Solinas, post-doc. Project “Ultrastructural and physiological study of mitochondria in exocrine and endocrine glands”. Supported by: Sardinian Region, within the program Master and Back.


2014-2016 Dr Alberto Casti post-doc, hired within the project “Morpho-functional investigation on diabetes-induced injury on the cardiovascular system”. Funded by Autonomous Sardinian Region.




2012-2013 PI for the Project title “NAFLD and NASH: a morphological, ultrastructural and bioenergetic approach in an animal model. Comparison with human clinical cases”. Funding source:  Foundation of the Bank of Sardinia.

2013-2016 Co-PI for the Project title: “Morpho-functional investigation on diabetes-induced injury on the cardiovascular system”. The project involves two Units. Funding source: Autonomous Sardinian Region- Projects of fundamental or basic research, call 2012.   Whole amount funded: €147.000


Research Areas

Ultrastructural morphology (particularly on mitochondrial cristae) by HRSEM, mitochondrial physiology.



Currently, two projects are developing. The first is on liver mitochondrial bioenergetics in an animal model of hepatic steatosis and NASH. Evaluation of liver mitochondria’s oxidative efficiency of the OXPHOS (oxidative phosphorylation) complexes in rat fed with a hyperlipidic diet and controls fed with an isocaloric one is pursued by means of a Clark-type electrode. The associated variations in mitochondrial cristal structure have been searched by HRSEM and TEM, too.

The second project is on the effects of long-term diabetes (more than 4 months) on the cardiovascular system of female rats. This project will evaluate the changes in connective tissue composition of the portal vein and aorta and of the left ventricle and will relate them with the physiology of contractility of portal vein and of the heart’s papillary muscle contractile force (the latter two done by the other Unit). Variations in mitochondria OXPHOS efficiency in right and left ventricle will be associated with electron microscopy morphological changes of mitochondria in the same areas. Mitochondrial efficiency will be also associated to the extent of mitochondrial complexes associations, namely respirosomes or supercomplexes.


Collaborating to other projects involving the assessment of the presence of receptors, belonging to the non-adrenergic non-cholinergic system, not yet identified in human salivary glands, by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry technique.

Past interests dealt with adrenal gland mitochondrial cristae 3D morphology, Candida albicans ultrastructure, cell biology studied by means of fluorescent probes (study of the mitochondrial potential, of ROS production, etc.). First research interest was in the Neuroscience field, by investigating on alcohol and nicotine addiction in animal models.

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