Biomedical Research Foundation Academy Of AthensAcademy Of Athens
Scientific Personnel

Maria Maria Xilouri, PhD
Investigator - Lecturer Level

Telephone : +30 210 6597498
Fax : +30 210 6597545
e-mail :

Center :

Clinical, Experimental Surgery & Translational Research

Brief Bio

Maria Xilouri received her degree in Biology from the University of Athens, Greece in 1999. For the period 1999-2002 she worked as a Research Scientist in Histopathology Department, I.D.C.A. Hygeia (Harvard Medical) Hospital, Athens, Greece. She obtained her PhD in Biology from the Department of Biology (Division of Animal and Human Physiology) of the University of Athens, Greece in 2007. During her PhD studies she identified the mechanisms via which neuroactive steroids (neurosteroids) exert protective effects in differentiated pluripotent embryonic cells, which involve modulation of GABAA and NMDA receptors, restoration of calcium homeostasis and inhibition of apoptotic cell death. In December 2006, she initiated her post-doctoral studies in the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA), Greece, where she focused her research on alpha-synuclein neurobiology, a molecule strongly implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD). More particular, she identified the selective proteolytic pathway of Chaperone-Mediated Autophagy (CMA) as a major route for alpha-synuclein degradation in neuronal systems and as a potential therapeutic target to mitigate alpha-synuclein-related toxicity in the living brain. During her post-doctoral studies, Dr Xilouri was supported with fellowships and awards from prestigious organizations, such as the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Michael J Fox Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the State Scholarship Foundation (IKY). In 2010, she worked as a Visiting Scientist in the Brain Repair and Imaging in Neural Systems (BRAINS) Unit in Lund University, Sweden, where she was trained in the generation and stereotactic delivery of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) in the rodent brain.

In April 2015, she was appointed as Researcher D (Lecturer) in the Clinical, Experimental Surgery and Translational Research Center at BRFAA. Her research interests are mainly related to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases with an emphasis on the interrelationship between aggregated-prone proteins such as alpha-synuclein, MAPT/tau or beta-amyloid, to lysosomal degradation pathways. Dr Xilouri has extensive experience in the generation of a variety of viral vectors (lenti-, adeno-, adeno-associated) used both in vitro and in vivo, in genetic (cellular and animal) models as well as in neurotoxin-based models, such as the parkinsonian neurotoxin MPTP. In order to validate the results obtained from such models, she is also examining biological material, derived from peripheral and brain tissues, from patients affected in PD (sporadic and familial forms of the disease). Collectively, her work seeks to identify the mechanisms controlling the lysosomal/autophagic machinery in the nervous system, which can then represent potential targets for neuroprotective therapies.

Selected Publications

Xilouri M, Brekk OR, Kirik D, Stefanis L (2013) LAMP2A as a therapeutic target in Parkinson disease. Autophagy 9(12):2166-8

Xilouri M, Brekk OR, Landeck N, Pitychoutis PM, Papasilekas T, Papadopoulou-Daifoti   Z, Kirik D, Stefanis L (2013) Boosting chaperone-mediated autophagy in vivo mitigates α-synuclein-induced neurodegeneration. Brain, 136; (Pt7):2130-2146

Melachroinou, K., Xilouri, M., Emmanouilidou, E., Masgrau, R., Papazafiri, P., Stefanis, L., Vekrellis, K. (2013) Deregulation of calcium homeostasis mediates secreted alpha-synuclein-induced neurotoxicity. Neurobiol Aging, 4(12):2853-65.

Papadakis M, Hadley G, Xilouri M, Hoyte LC, Nagel S, McMenamin MM, Tsaknakis G, Watt SM, Drakesmith CW, Chen R, Wood MJ, Zhao Z, Kessler B, Vekrellis K, Buchan AM. (2013) Tsc1 (hamartin) confers neuroprotection against ischemia by inducing autophagy. Nature Medicine, 24;19(3):351-7.

Xilouri M, Kyratzi E, Pitychoutis PM, Papadopoulou-Daifoti Z, Perier C, Vila M, Maniati M, Ulusoy A, Kirik D, Park D, Wada K, Stefanis L(2012) “Selective Neuroprotective Effects of the S18Y Polymorphic Variant of UCH-L1 in the dopaminergic system” Hum Mol Genet, 15;21(4):874-89.

Vekrellis K, Xilouri M, Emmanouilidou E, Rideout HJ,Stefanis L (2011) “Pathological role of α-synuclein in neurological disorders” Lancet Neurol. Nov;10(11):1015-25.

Xu J, Xilouri M, Brubana J, Shioi J, Shao X, Papazoglou I, Vekrellis K, Robakis N (2011) “Extracellular progranulin protects cortical neurons from toxic insults by activating survival signaling” Neurobiol Aging, Dec;32(12):2326.e5-16.

Vekrellis K, Xilouri M, Emmanouilidou E, Stefanis L (2009) “Inducible over-expression of wild type alpha-synuclein in human neuronal cells leads to caspase-dependent non-apoptotic death”. J Neurochem 109: 1348-1362.

Xilouri M, Vogiatzi T, Vekrellis K, Park D, Stefanis L (2009) Abberant alpha-synuclein confers toxicity to neurons in part through inhibition of chaperone-mediated autophagy”. PLoS ONE 4: e5515

Xilouri M, Vogiatzi T, Vekrellis K, Stefanis L (2008). "Alpha-synuclein degradation by autophagic pathways: A potential key to Parkinson’s Disease pathogenesis " Autophagy 4(7): 917-919

Vogiatzi T, Xilouri M, Vekrellis K, Stefanis L (2008). "Wild type a-synuclein is degraded by chaperone mediated autophagy and macroautophagy in neuronal cells." J Biol Chem, 283 (35): 23542-56

Xilouri M and Papazafiri P (2006). "Anti-apoptotic effects of allopregnanolone on P19 neurons." Eur J Neurosci 23(1): 43-54.


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