Abrignani Sergio

Chief Scientific Officer



Sergio Abrignani (57 years old) earned his M.D. at the University of Padova in 1982 and a Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology in 1986. From 1986 to 1993 he worked at the Research Centre of Ciba-Geigy in Basel (Switzerland). From 1993 to 1999 he headed the Immunology and Virology Research Unit at Chiron Vaccines in Siena (Italy). From 1999 to 2005 he was Vice President of Immunology and Infectious diseases R&D at Chiron Corporation in San Francisco (USA). Since 2006 he is the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Molecular Genetics (INGM – Istituto Nazionale di Genetica Molecolare) of Milan, a no-profit research foundation aimed at the discovery and initial development of new therapies and new diagnostics in chronic diseases (neoplastic, degenerative and autoimmune) with particular interest to secondary prevention. He is full professor of Pathology at the Medical School of the University of Milan.
Sergio Abrignani’s research activity has focused on immunology and on the interactions between viruses and human cells. One of his major contributions has been the discovery of CD81 as the key entry receptor of hepatitis C virus (HCV). His research has also defined how cytokine cocktails can truly activate in a new antigen-independent manner human CD4+ T lymphocytes. More recently he has focused his research on the role of regulatory RNAs in T cell differentiation and functions.
Sergio Abrignani has published about 100 scientific papers with an h-index (GS) of 55, more than 12000 citations, and about 30 granted international patents. He is member of many Italian and international scientific societies and academies. Because of his studies on the hepatitis C virus, in 2004 he received the Public Health gold Medal of Merit from the President of the Italian Republic. In 2011 he was awarded an “Advanced Grant” of the European Research Council (ERC), the most important and prestigious competitive grant for European researchers.


  • Molecular factors involved in HCV-associated lymphoproliferative diseases.
  • Project microRNA.
  • Lymphocyte microRNAs in health and disease: Understanding lymphocyte functions through the identification of microRNA target genes and exploiting serum microRNA signatures to monitor immune responses.
  • Molecular signatures of HCV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders of B cells.
  • Improving vaccines for the developing world by means of new adjuvants potentiating effector and memory responses.
  • Pathophysiological role of the non-coding RNA in epigenetic regulation of human CD4+ T lymphocytes.
  • Cellular and molecular events in the pathogenesis of chronic infections with HBV or HCV.


Normalization of circulating microRNA expression data obtained by quantitative real-time RT-PCR.
Marabita F, de Candia P, Torri A, Tegnér J, Abrignani S, Rossi RL.
Brief Bioinform. 2015 Aug 3. pii: bbv056. [Epub ahead of print]

IL-10-producing forkhead box protein 3-negative regulatory T cells inhibit B-cell responses and are involved in systemic lupus erythematosus.
Facciotti F, Gagliani N, Häringer B, Alfen JS, Penatti A, Maglie S, Paroni M, Iseppon A, Moro M, Crosti MC, Stölzel K, Romagnani C, Moroni G,Ingegnoli F, Torretta S, Pignataro L, Annoni A, Russo F, Pagani M, Abrignani S, Meroni P, Flavell R, Geginat J.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Aug 25. pii: S0091-6749(15)00999-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.06.044. [Epub ahead of print]

miRiadne: a web tool for consistent integration of miRNA nomenclature.
Bonnal R JP, Rossi RL, Carpi D, Ranzani V, Abrignani S, Pagani M.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Jul 1;43(W1):W487-92.

The long intergenic noncoding RNA landscape of human lymphocytes highlights the regulation of T cell differentiation by linc-MAF-4.
Ranzani V, Rossetti G, Panzeri I, Arrigoni A, Bonnal RJP, Curti S, Provasi E, Sugliano E, De Francesco R, Geginat J, Bodega B, Abrignani S, Pagani M.
Nat Immunol. 2015 Mar;16(3):318-25.

Plasticity of human CD4 T cell subsets.
Geginat J, Paroni M, Maglie S, Alfen JS, Kastirr I, Gruarin P, DeSimone M, Pagani M, Abrignani.
Front.Immunol. 2014 Dec 16;5:630.

NS5A inhibitors impair NS5A- PI4KIIIα complex formation and cause a decrease of PI4P and cholesterol levels in HCV-associated membranes.
Reghellin V, Donnici L, Fenu S, Berno V, Calabrese V, Pagani M, Abrignani S, Peri F, De Francesco R, Neddermann P.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014 Dec;58(12):7128-40.

IL-21 Is a Central Memory T Cell-Associated Cytokine That Inhibits the Generation of Pathogenic Th1/17 Effector Cells.
Kastirr I, Maglie S, Paroni M, Alfen JS, Nizzoli G, Sugliano E, Crosti MC, Moro M, Steckel B, Steinfelder S, Stölzel K, Romagnani C, Botti F, Caprioli F, Pagani M, Abrignani S, Geginat J
J Immunol. 2014 Aug 29. pii: 1400775. [Epub ahead of print]

iNKT cell help to B cells: a cooperative job between innate and adaptive immune responses
P Dellabona, S Abrignani, G Casorati
European Journal of Immunology, 2014

Why it is so difficult to develop an HCV preventive vaccine?
Zingaretti C, De Francesco R, Abrignani S
Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2014, Feb 20; 20:103-109

Serum microRNAs as biomarkers of human lymphocyte activation in health and disease
de Candia P. Torri A, Pagani M, Abrignani S
Front Immunol. 2014 Feb 10;5:43.

Intracellular Modulation, Extracellular Disposal and Serum Increase of MiR-150 Mark Lymphocyte Activation
de Candia P, Torri A, Gorletta T, Fedeli M, Bulgheroni E, Cheroni C, Marabita F, Crosti M, Moro M, Pariani E, Romanò L, Esposito S, Mosca F, Rossetti G, Rossi RL, Geginat J, Casorati G, Dellabona P, Pagani M, Abrignani S
Plos One, 2013; doi: 10.1371.

The CD4-centered universe of human T cell subsets
Geginat J, Paroni M, Facciotti F, Gruarin P, Kastirr I, Caprioli F, Pagani M, Abrignani S.
Semin Immunol. 2013 Nov 15;25(4):252-62.

Human CD1c+ dendritic cells secrete high levels of IL-12 and potently prime cytotoxic T cell responses
Nizzoli G, Krietsch J, Weick A, Steinfelder S, Facciotti F, Gruarin P, Bianco A, Steckel B, Moro M, Crosti M, Romagnani C, Stoelzel K, Torretta S, Pignataro L, Scheibenbogen C, Neddermann P, De Francesco R, Abrignani S, Geginat J.
Blood. 2013 Aug 8;122(6):932-42

Role of microRNAs and long-non-coding RNAs in CD4+ T-cell differentiation.
Pagani M, Rossetti G, Panzeri I, De Candia P, Bonnal R.J.P, Rossi R, Geginat J, Abrignani S.
Immunological Reviews. 2013; 253: 82–96,

A Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Vaccine Comprising Envelope Glycoproteins gpE1/gpE2 Derived from a Single Isolate Elicits Broad Cross-Genotype Neutralizing Antibodies in Humans.
Law JL, Chen C, Wong J, Hockman D, Santer DM, Frey SE, Belshe RB, Wakita T, Bukh J, Jones CT, Rice CM, Abrignani S, Tyrrell DL, Houghton M.
PLoS ONE. 2013; 8 (3), art. no. e59776

Hepatitis C virus-specific directly acting antiviral drugs.
Delang L, Neyts J, Vliegen I, Abrignani S, Neddermann P, De Francesco R.
Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology. 369: 289-320, 2013.

Reduction of CD68+ Macrophages and Decreased IL-17 Expression in Intestinal Mucosa of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Strongly Correlate With Endoscopic Response and Mucosal Healing following Infliximab Therapy.
Caprioli F, Bosè F, Rossi RL, Petti L, Viganò C, Ciafardini C, Raeli L, Basilisco G, Ferrero S, Pagani M, Conte D, Altomare G, Monteleone G, Abrignani S, Reali E.,
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2013; 19 (4): 729-739

Identification of new autoantigens by protein array indicates a role for IL4 neutralization in Autoimmune Hepatitis
Zingaretti C, Arigò M, Cardaci A, Moro M, Crosti M, Sinisi A, Sugliano E, Cheroni C, Marabita F, Nogarotto R, Bonnal RJP, Marcatili P, Marconi M, Zignego A, Muratori P, Invernizzi P, Colombatto P, Brunetto M, Bonino B, De Francesco R, Geginat J, Pagani M, Muratori L, Abrignani S, Bombaci M.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012; 11 (12), pp. 1885-1897

Identification of new hematopoietic cell subsets with a polyclonal antibody library specific for neglected proteins.
Moro M, Crosti M, Creo P, Gallina P, Curti S, Sugliano E, Scavelli R, Cattaneo D, Canidio E, Marconi M, Rebulla P, Sarmientos P, Viale G, Pagani M, Abrignani S.
PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34395.

IL28B polymorphisms predict interferon-related HBsAg seroclearance in genotype D HBeAg-negative patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Lampertico P, Viganò M, Cheroni C, Facchetti F, Invernizzi F, Valveri V, Soffredini R, Abrignani S, De Francesco R, Colombo M.
Hepatology. 2012 Apr 2. doi: 10.1002/hep.25749. (Epub ahead of print).

Circulating hepatitis B surface antigen particles carry hepatocellular microRNAs.
Novellino L, Rossi RL, Bonino F, Cavallone D, Abrignani S, Pagani M, Brunetto MR.
PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e31952.

Metabolism of phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase IIIα-dependent PI4P Is subverted by HCV and is targeted by a 4-anilino quinazoline with antiviral activity.
Bianco A, Reghellin V, Donnici L, Fenu S, Alvarez R, Baruffa C, Peri F, Pagani M, Abrignani S, Neddermann P, De Francesco R.
PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(3):e1002576. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Follicular helper NKT cells induce limited B cell responses and germinal center formation in the absence of CD4(+) T cell help.
Tonti E, Fedeli M, Napolitano A, Iannacone M, von Andrian UH, Guidotti LG, Abrignani S, Casorati G, Dellabona P.
J Immunol. 2012 Apr 1;188(7):3217-22.

Third trimester amniotic fluid cells with the capacity to develop neural phenotypes and with heterogeneity among sub-populations.
Bottai D, Cigognini D, Nicora E, Moro M, Grimoldi MG, Adami R, Abrignani S, Marconi AM, Di Giulio AM, Gorio A.
Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2012;30(1):55-68.

A novel polyclonal antibody library for expression profiling of poorly characterized, membrane and secreted human proteins.
Grifantini R, Pagani M, Pierleoni A, Grandi A, Parri M, Campagnoli S, Pileri P, Cattaneo D, Canidio E, Pontillo A, De Camilli E, Bresciani A, Marinoni F, Pedrazzoli E, Nogarotto R, Abrignani S, Viale G, Sarmientos P, Grandi G.
J Proteomics. 2011 Dec 21;75(2):532-47.

Immunization of human volunteers with hepatitis C virus envelope glycoproteins elicits antibodies that cross-neutralize heterologous virus strains.
Stamataki Z, Coates S, Abrignani S, Houghton M, McKeating JA.
J Infect Dis. 2011 Sep 1;204(5):811-3.

Genetic variation in the interleukin-28B gene is not associated with fibrosis progression in patients with chronic hepatitis C and known date of infection.
Marabita F, Aghemo A, De Nicola S, Rumi MG, Cheroni C, Scavelli R, Crimi M, Soffredini R, Abrignani S, De Francesco R, Colombo M.
Hepatology. 2011 Oct;54(4):1127-34. doi: 10.1002/hep.24503.

Distinct microRNA signatures in human lymphocyte subsets and enforcement of the naive state in CD4+ T cells by the microRNA miR-125b.
Rossi RL, Rossetti G, Wenandy L, Curti S, Ripamonti A, Bonnal RJ, Birolo RS, Moro M, Crosti MC, Gruarin P, Maglie S, Marabita F, Mascheroni D, Parente V, Comelli M, Trabucchi E, De Francesco R, Geginat J, Abrignani S, Pagani M.
Nat Immunol. 2011 Jun 26;12(8):796-803. doi: 10.1038/ni.2057.

INGM researches are supported by