Marco Bortolato, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Dept. of Pharmacology & Toxicology, The University of Kansas-Lawrence

Ph.D., University of Cagliari, Italy, 2004
M.D., University of Cagliari, Italy, 2000
Postdoctoral, University of California, 2004-2006
Postdoctoral, University of Cagliari, Italy, 2006-2008

My research is primarily focused on the characterization of the biological bases of neurodevelopmental disorders through the employment of behavioral tests in animal models. In particular, my key scientific interest is the identification of the mechanisms of interaction between lipid mediators (including neuroactive steroids and endocannabinoids) and key brain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. To this end, we employ a broad array of behavioral techniques, as well as electroencephalography, stereotactic surgery and HPLC.

The long-term goal of this research is the development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of pathological aggression, autism-spectrum disorder, Tourette syndrome, schizophrenia and impulse-control disorders (such as pathological gambling). 

My laboratory is currently involved in two major translational research projects. The first target of our investigations is the characterization of the molecular substrates of gene x environment interactions in impulsive aggression. The second aim of our research is the development of novel steroid- and cannabinoid-based tools for the therapy of impulse-control disorders, Tourette syndrome and schizophrenia. In particular, we have discovered the antipsychotic efficacy of neurosteroid-based therapies in patients affected by schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and impulse-control disorders. Both projects involve multiple collaborations with several basic and clinical scientists in US, Canada, Italy, Germany, Croatia and Malta.

Selected Publications

Bortolato M, Bini V, Frau R, Devoto P, Pardu A, Fan Y, Solbrig MV. Juvenile cannabinoid treatment induces frontostriatal gliogenesis in Lewis rats. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol , in press

Bortolato M, Godar SC, Tambaro S, Li FG, Devoto P, Coba MP, Chen K, Shih JC.  Early postnatal inhibition of serotonin synthesis results in long-term reductions of perseverative behaviors, but not aggression, in MAO A-deficient mice. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Dec;75:223-32.

Davis DA*, Bortolato M*, Godar SC, Sander TK, Iwata N, Pakbin P, Shih JC, Berhane K, McConnell R, Sioutas C, Finch CE, Morgan TE. Prenatal exposure to urban air nanoparticulate in mice causes neuronal differentiation and depression-like responses. PLoS One. 2013 May 29;8(5):e64128.

Bortolato M, Godar SC, Alzghoul L, Zhang J, Darling RD, Simpson KL, Bini V, Chen K, Wellman CL, Lin RC, Shih JC. Monoamine oxidase A and A/B knockout mice display autistic-like features. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 May;16(4):869-88.

Bortolato M, Godar SC, Melis M, Soggiu A, Roncada P, Casu A, Flore G, Chen K, Frau R, Urbani A, Castelli MP, Devoto P, Shih JC. NMDARs mediate the role of monoamine oxidase A in pathological aggression. J Neurosci. 2012 Jun 20;32(25):8574-82.

Bortolato M, Chen K, Godar SC, Chen G, Wu W, Rebrin I, Farrell MR, Scott AL,  Wellman CL, Shih JC. Social deficits and perseverative behaviors, but not overt aggression, in MAO-A hypomorphic mice. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Dec;36(13):2674-88.

Muroni A, Paba S, Puligheddu M, Marrosu F, Bortolato M. A preliminary study of finasteride in Tourette syndrome. Mov Disord. 2011 Sep;26(11):2146-7.

Bortolato M, Devoto P, Roncada P, Frau R, Flore G, Saba P, Pistritto G, Soggiu A, Pisanu S, Zappala A, Ristaldi MS, Tattoli M, Cuomo V, Marrosu F, Barbaccia ML. Isolation rearing-induced reduction of brain 5α-reductase expression: relevance to dopaminergic impairments. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Jun;60(7-8):1301-8.

Bortolato M, Bini V, Tambaro S. Vulnerability Factors for the Psychiatric and Behavioral Effects of Cannabis. Pharmaceuticals, 2010; 3(9): 2799-2820

Bortolato M, Muroni A, Marrosu F. Treatment of Tourette's syndrome with finasteride: a case report. Am J Psychiatry. 2007 Dec;164(12):1914-5.


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Marco Bortolato, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor