Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D.

Alessandra Sacco portrait photo

Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D.

Vice Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Fax: (858) 713-6274

Alessandra Sacco's Research Focus

Childhood Diseases, Muscular Dystrophy, Sarcopenia/Aging-Related Muscle Atrophy

Skeletal muscle wasting is a devastating pathology that occurs in several human conditions, including muscular dystrophies, aging, and HIV. There is currently no cure for it. Muscle stem cells offer great promise for future therapies, but their use is currently limited by our poor understanding of the regulatory mechanisms directing their behavior. We are interested in understanding how extrinsic and intrinsic factors regulate muscle stem cells in vivo. Current projects include:

  • Developing stem cell-based strategies for treating muscle wasting diseases
  • Understanding how aging affects the muscle stem cell compartment.

Alessandra Sacco's Bio

Alessandra Sacco completed her studies at La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. In 2002, Dr. Sacco joined the laboratory of Prof. Helen M. Blau at Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow (2002-2009), where she studied cell fusion between hematopoietic cells and muscle cells, as a potential mechanism for tissue repair. Recently she defined strategies to isolate adult skeletal muscle stem cells and performed single cell transplantation experiments, providing the first definitive evidence that adult muscle stem cells are able to self-renew in vivo. She received research funding from Muscular Dystrophy Association (2006-2008). In 2010, Dr. Sacco was recruited as Assistant Professor at SBP.

DAR Accessory


Substrate elasticity regulates skeletal muscle stem cell self-renewal in culture.

Gilbert PM, Havenstrite KL, Magnusson KE, Sacco A, Leonardi NA, Kraft P, Nguyen NK, Thrun S, Lutolf MP, Blau HM

Science 2010 Aug 27 ;329(5995):1078-81

Reprogramming towards pluripotency requires AID-dependent DNA demethylation.

Bhutani N, Brady JJ, Damian M, Sacco A, Corbel SY, Blau HM

Nature 2010 Feb 25 ;463(7284):1042-7

A home away from home: challenges and opportunities in engineering in vitro muscle satellite cell niches.

Cosgrove BD, Sacco A, Gilbert PM, Blau HM

Differentiation 2009 Sep-Oct ;78(2-3):185-94

Show All Select Publications

Activation of skeletal muscle-resident glial cells upon nerve injury.

Proietti D, Giordani L, De Bardi M, D'Ercole C, Lozanoska-Ochser B, Amadio S, Volonté C, Marinelli S, Muchir A, Bouché M, Borsellino G, Sacco A, Puri PL, Madaro L

JCI Insight 2021 Apr 8 ;6(7)

From Development to Aging: The Path to Cellular Senescence.

Sacco A, Belloni L, Latella L

Antioxid Redox Signal 2021 Feb 1 ;34(4):294-307

The Stat3-Fam3a axis promotes muscle stem cell myogenic lineage progression by inducing mitochondrial respiration.

Sala D, Cunningham TJ, Stec MJ, Etxaniz U, Nicoletti C, Dall'Agnese A, Puri PL, Duester G, Latella L, Sacco A

Nat Commun 2019 Apr 17 ;10(1):1796

Muscle Stem Cells Give Rise to Rhabdomyosarcomas in a Severe Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Boscolo Sesillo F, Fox D, Sacco A

Cell Rep 2019 Jan 15 ;26(3):689-701.e6

Denervation-activated STAT3-IL-6 signalling in fibro-adipogenic progenitors promotes myofibres atrophy and fibrosis.

Madaro L, Passafaro M, Sala D, Etxaniz U, Lugarini F, Proietti D, Alfonsi MV, Nicoletti C, Gatto S, De Bardi M, Rojas-García R, Giordani L, Marinelli S, Pagliarini V, Sette C, Sacco A, Puri PL

Nat Cell Biol 2018 Aug ;20(8):917-927

Show All Publications