Role: Head of Lab
Unit: Cellular Immunology Lab
Hospital: Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Italy


Biographical note

Paola Allavena graduated at the Medical School of the University of Milan and got a PhD in Immunology.  She worked at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, USA, and for several years at the Department of Immunology at the Institute for Pharmacological Research  “Mario Negri” where she was in charge of the Laboratory of Cellular Immunology. Since 2005 she is Group Leader of the Laboratory of Cellular Immunology at the Clinical and Research Institute Humanitas. She has a long standing interest in the field of cancer research, tumor immunology, inflammation and chemokines. She is author of more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed international journals and has an H index of 72.

Scientific interests

The main research lines relate to the interaction between innate immune cells, in particular tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) and cancer cells. She actively contributed to understand the links between chronic inflammation and tumor progression by studying the expression and modulation of cytokines and chemokines in the tumor micro-environment, particularly in colorectal and pancreatic neoplasia. Her group contributed to the characterization of TAM in human tumors, defining their pro-tumoral activities, the genomic profile and the expression of specific markers. These studies led to consider therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the macrophage content of tumors. Among these, the use of a new anti-neoplastic compound that is selectively cytotoxic for monocytes and macrophages. Among the inflammatory mediators that may contribute to tumor progression and metastatic spread, mostly studied are the chemokines and their receptors, particularly in colorectal and pancreatic neoplasia

Selected publications

Celesti G, Di Caro G, Bianchi P, Grizzi F, Marchesi F, Basso G, Rahal D, Delconte G, Catalano M, Cappello P, Roncalli M, Zerbi A, Montorsi M, Novelli F,Mantovani A, Allavena P, Malesci A, Laghi L. Early expression of the fractalkine receptor CX3CR1 in pancreatic carcinogenesis. Br J Cancer. 2013 Oct29;109(9):2424-33. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.565. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

Di Caro G, Bergomas F, Grizzi F, Doni A, Bianchi P, Malesci A, Laghi L,Allavena P, Mantovani A, Marchesi F. Occurrence of tertiary lymphoid tissue isassociated to T cell infiltration and predicts better prognosis in early stagecolorectal cancers. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Germano G, Frapolli R, Belgiovine C, Anselmo A, Pesce S, Liguori M, Erba E,Uboldi S, Zucchetti M, Pasqualini F, Nebuloni M, van Rooijen N, Mortarini R,Beltrame L, Marchini S, Fuso Nerini I, Sanfilippo R, Casali PG, Pilotti S,Galmarini CM, Anichini A, Mantovani A, D’Incalci M, Allavena P. Role ofmacrophage targeting in the antitumor activity of trabectedin. Cancer Cell. 2013 Feb 11;23(2):249-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2013.01.008.

Allavena P, Germano G, Belgiovine C, D’Incalci M, Mantovani A. Trabectedin: A drug from the sea that strikes tumor-associated macrophages. Oncoimmunology. 2013 Jun 1;2(6):e24614. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Allavena P, Mantovani A. Immunology in the clinic review series; focus on cancer: tumour-associated macrophages: undisputed stars of the inflammatory tumour microenvironment. Clin Exp Immunol. 2012 Feb;167(2):195-205.

Erreni M, Solinas G, Brescia P, Osti D, Zunino F, Colombo P, Destro A, Roncalli M, Mantovani A, Draghi R, Levi D, Rodriguez Y Baena R, Gaetani P, Pelicci G, Allavena P. Human glioblastoma tumours and neural cancer stem cells express the chemokine CX3CL1 and its receptor CX3CR1. Eur J Cancer. 2010 Dec;46(18):3383-92.

Solinas G, Schiarea S, Liguori M, Fabbri M, Pesce S, Zammataro L, Pasqualini F, Nebuloni M, Chiabrando C, Mantovani A, Allavena P. Tumor-conditioned macrophages secrete migration-stimulating factor: a new marker for M2-polarization, influencing tumor cell motility. J Immunol. 2010 Jul 1;185(1):642-52.

Germano G, Frapolli R, Simone M, Tavecchio M, Erba E, Pesce S, Pasqualini F, Grosso F, Sanfilippo R, Casali PG, Gronchi A, Virdis E, Tarantino E, Pilotti S, Greco A, Nebuloni M, Galmarini CM, Tercero JC, Mantovani A, D’Incalci M, Allavena P. Antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects of trabectedin on human myxoid liposarcoma cells. Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 15;70(6):2235-44.

Marchesi F, Piemonti L, Fedele F, Destro A, Roncalli M, Albarello, Doglioni, Anselmo, Doni, Bianchi, Laghi, Malesci, Cervo, Malosio, Reni , Zerbi, Di Carlo, Mantovani A, and Allavena P. The Chemokine Receptor CX3CR1 Is Involved in the Neural Tropism and Malignant Behavior of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cancer Res 2008; 68: (21), 2008

Mantovani A, Allavena P, Sica A, Balkwill F. Cancer-related inflammation. Nature. 2008 Jul 24;454(7203):436-44.