Profile for Luca Cucullo, PhD

Luca Cucullo

Luca Cucullo, PhD

  • Committee Member
  • Assistant Professor
Office Phone: 806-414-9237
Mail Address: 1300 S Coulter St
Amarillo TX 79106-1712



Dr. Cucullo joined the Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty in September of 2011. He received his doctoral degree in Pharmaceutical Technology /Biotechnology from the University of Pisa, School of Pharmacy, in 2000. He then continued his education engaging in a postdoctoral training at the Cleveland Clinic in the Dept. of Cell Biology/Cerebrovascular Research Center. There he began specializing in cerebrovascular modeling under the guidance of Prof. Damir Janigro, Ph.D. Prior to joining the School of Pharmacy Dr. Cucullo held the position of Project Scientist and Lab Manager of the Cerebrovascular Research Center and a secondary appointment as Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University-Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Dr. Cucullo research programs are currently funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01-DA02912; effects of tobacco smoke toxicity at the blood-brain barrier) and Alternative Research and Development Foundation (effect of hyper- and hypoglycemia on BBB physiology)

Research Interests

My research interests are largely focused on translational neuroscience and comprise the study of cross interactions between the cellular elements of the neurovascular unit; the development of multidrug resistance at the BBB; environmental and cellular modulation of blood-brain barrier functions; biomarkers of BBB disruption and their relevance in the onset of neurodegenerative disorders; rheological and pro-inflammatory changes in ischemia and stroke and their role in the pathogenesis of secondary brain injury and neuroinflammation.
Current primary research focus revolves on investigating the pathophysiology of tobacco smoke and e-cigarette toxicity at the neurovascular unit. The study encompasses both identification of potential prodromal factors for the pathogenesis and progression of cerebrovascular impairment and brain disorders as well as potential countermeasures including antioxidant treatments. Our lab is also exploring the contribution of type-2 diabetes mellitus in the pathogenesis and progression of major neurological disorders in connection with tobacco smoke. Existing evidence suggests that diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and exacerbates a host of CNS pathologies through potential impairment of the blood-brain barrier.

Selected Publications:

  • Kaisar MA, Kallem RR, Sajja RK, Sifat AE, Cucullo L. A convenient UHPLC-MS/MS method for routine monitoring of plasma and brain levels of nicotine and cotinine as a tool to validate newly developed preclinical smoking model in mouse.. BMC neuroscience 2017;18(1):71.
  • Prasad S, Kaisar MA, Cucullo L. Unhealthy smokers: scopes for prophylactic intervention and clinical treatment.. BMC neuroscience 2017;18(1):70.
  • Kaisar MA, Villalba H, Prasad S, Liles T, Sifat AE, Sajja RK, Abbruscato TJ, Cucullo L. Offsetting the impact of smoking and e-cigarette vaping on the cerebrovascular system and stroke injury: Is Metformin a viable countermeasure?. Redox biology 2017;13:353-362.
  • Prasad S, Sajja RK, Kaisar MA, Park JH, Villalba H, Liles T, Abbruscato TJ, Cucullo L. Role of Nrf2 and protective effects of Metformin against tobacco smoke-induced cerebrovascular toxicity.. Redox biology 2017;12:58-69.
  • Sajja RK, Prasad S, Tang S, Kaisar MA, Cucullo L. Blood-brain barrier disruption in diabetic mice is linked to Nrf2 signaling deficits: Role of ABCB10?. Neuroscience letters 2017;653:152-158.