Dr Giovanna Nalesso

Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Biology
10-6 by appointment only

Academic and research departments

School of Veterinary Medicine.



After graduating in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Padova (Italy) in 2006, I won a scholarship sponsored by the University of Rome La Sapienza, that allowed me to work at Glaxo Smith Kline headquarter in Stevenage (UK). I then started my PhD at the Queen Mary University of London in the laboratory of Prof Dell'Accio (WHRI) where I focussed on the characterization of the Wnt signalling pathway in the articular cartilage and osteoarthritis. Upon completion of my PhD, I kept working for a few years in the same laboratory as postdoctoral fellow before joining the University of Surrey as lecturer in Musculoskeletal Biology in the department of Pre-clinical sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Research interests

My research goal is to discover novel pharmacological targets for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is a chronic and degenerative disease of the musculoskeletal system mainly characterised by articular cartilage erosion, synovial inflammation and abnormal bone remodelling. It affects half of the population over the age of 50 and no disease modifying drugs are available for this disease. It causes severe pain and discomfort in the affected patients and joint replacement is the ultimate resource for the most severe cases. The lack of pharmacological therapies is due to the complicated net of signalling pathways which are deregulated in the joint structures during the pathogenesis of OA influencing one another in inducing catabolic events in the joint.

Among all the pathways, I have particularly been involved in describing the role of the Wnt signalling in the maintenance of cartilage homeostasis. My studies described the role of a previously uncharacterised branch of the Wnt pathway-the Wnt/CaMKII pathway- in the articular cartilage and in OA (Nalesso et al., JCB 2011) and demonstrated the homeostatic function of Wnt16 in challenging conditions in the joint (Nalesso et al., ARD 2016).

I am currently working on a few lines of research:

-the role of lipid metabolism in the maintenance of the articular cartilage homeostasis

-the characterisation of a novel microRNA in the articular cartilage and OA

-the investigation of inter-pathways interactions among different branches of the Wnt signalling


Module coordinator for VSM1003, Structure and Function 1 from October 2017.


Research interests

My publications


• Nalesso G*, Thomas BL*, Yu Y, Sherwood JC, Yu J, Addimanda O, Eldridge SE, Thorup AS, Dale L, Schett G, Zwerina J, El Tawil N, Pitzalis C, Dell'Accio F. Wnt16 antagonizes excessive canonical WNT activation and protects cartilage in osteoarthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2016 May 4. pii: annrheumdis-2015-208577. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208577. [Epub ahead of print]

• Eldridge S, Nalesso G, Ismail H, Vicente-Greco K, Kabouridis P, Ramachandran M, Niemeier A, Herz J, Pitzalis C, Perretti M, Dell'Accio F. Agrin mediates chondrocyte homeostasis and requires both LRP4 and α-dystroglycan to enhance cartilage formation in vitro and in vivo. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Aug

• Sherwood J, Bertrand J, Nalesso G, Poulet B, Pitsillides A, Brandolini L, Karystinou A, De Bari C, Luyten FP, Pitzalis C, Pap T, Dell'Accio F. A homeostatic function of CXCR2 signalling in articular cartilage. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Aug 18

• Greco KV*, Nalesso G*, Kaneva MK, Sherwood J, Iqbal AJ, Moradi-Bidhendi N, Dell'Accio F, Perretti M. Analyses on the mechanisms that underlie the chondroprotective properties of calcitonin. Biochem Pharmacol. 2014 Aug 9

• Heywood HK, Nalesso G, Lee DA, Dell'accio F. Culture expansion in low-glucose conditions preserves chondrocyte differentiation and enhances their subsequent capacity to form cartilage tissue in three-dimensional culture. Biores Open Access. 2014 Feb 1

• Slack RJ, Russell L, Barton NP, Weston C, Nalesso G, Thompson S-A, Allen M, Chen YH, Barnes A, Hodgson ST, Hall DA. Antagonism of human CC-chemokine receptor 4 can be achieved through three distinct binding sites on the receptor.Pharma Pharmacology research and Perspectives 30 DEC 2013

• Bertrand J, Stange R, Hidding H, Echtermeyer F, Nalesso G, Godmann L, Timmen M, Bruckner P, Dell'accio F, Raschke MJ, Pap T, Dreier R. Bone fracture repair, but not fetal skeletal development is supported by syndecan-4. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Dec 11

• Bertrand J, Nitschke Y, Fuerst M, Hermann S, Schäfers M, Sherwood J, Nalesso G, Ruether W, Rutsch F, Dell'accio F, Pap T Decreased levels of nucleotide pyrophosphatase phosphodiesterase 1 are associated with cartilage calcification in osteoarthritis and trigger osteoarthritic changes in mice.. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Apr 17

• Greco KV, Iqbal AJ, Rattazzi L, Nalesso G, Moradi-Bidhendi N, Moore AR, Goldring MB, Dell'Accio F, Perretti M. High density micromass cultures of a human chondrocyte cell line: a reliable assay system to reveal the modulatory functions of pharmacological agents. Biochem Pharmacol. 2011 Dec 15

• Nalesso G; Sherwood J, Bertrand J, Pap T, Ramachandran M, De Bari C, Pitzalis C, Dell'Accio F. “WNT-3A modulates articular chondrocyte phenotype by activating both canonical and noncanonical pathways”., J Cell Biol.,2011 May; 193: 551-564. This paper attracted a comment from Kestler and Kuhl in the same issue (J Cell Biol., 2011 May; 193: 431-3) and has been selected as editor's choice in a comment by Gough in Science Signalling (Sci Signal., 2011 May; 172:ec134).

• Brunati AM, Tibaldi E, Carraro A, Gringeri E, D'Amico F Jr, Toninello A, Massimino ML, Pagano MA, Nalesso G, Cillo U. Cross-talk between PDGF and S1P signalling elucidates the inhibitory effect and potential antifibrotic action of the immunomodulator FTY720 in activated HSC-cultures. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Mar; 1783(3):347-5.