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Human Integrative Physology of Exercise

Simone Porcelli,PI


Lab members

Andrea Pilotto, Postdoc

Raffaele Mazzolari, Postdoc

Marta Colosio, PhD Student

Alessio Marciano, PhD Student

Massimiliano Ansaldo, PhD student



The research group of the Laboratory of Integrated Human Physiology of Physical Exercise (HIPElab) deals with the study of the physiological responses of the respiratory, cardiovascular and muscular systems in healthy subjects, young and old, in response to resistance and strength training, simulated microgravity (bed-rest), immobilization (lower-limb suspension), normobaric and hypobaric hypoxia (altitude). Furthermore, the group is interested in the study of physiological adjustments to exercise and factors that limit exercise tolerance in patients with respiratory diseases (e.g. bronchopneumopathy), cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart failure), neuromuscular diseases (e.g. e.g. muscle myopathies) and metabolic pathologies (e.g. diabetes and obesity). The goal is to define the mechanisms of regulation of the oxidative metabolism of skeletal muscle and to characterize muscle bioenergetics through physiological parameters such as: maximum oxygen consumption, kinetics of oxygen consumption, muscle oxygen extraction by near infrared spectroscopy. In recent years, the research interests were also extended to the study of the central and peripheral components of neuromuscular fatigue by means of peripheral electrical nerve stimulation associated with the use of surface electromyography sensors and the evaluation of the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the regulation of energy metabolism and the generation of muscle strength. The research topics are carried out in close collaboration with the Physiology group of the Muscle Plasticity Laboratory, thus being able to support the study of functional biomarkers in vivo with ex-vivo molecular analyzes.

Active Research Projects:

  • "NeuAge - Neuromuscular aging: mechanisms and functional implications" - Project PRIN 2017 - Sector LS5.
  • "Trajector-AGE - Neuromuscular deterioration in aging: a structural and functional longitudinal study of the mechanistic basis of age-related alterations" - Project PRIN 2017 - Sector LS5.
  • "Inactive-AGE - Neuromuscular impairment induced by physical inactivity across different ages: from children, to young people and middle-aged adults" - Project PRIN 2017 - Sector LS5.
  • "Muscle weakness and (in) exercise tolerance in patients with long COVID: mechanistic basis and predictive biomarkers"

Clinical trials:

  • Reduced exercise capacity in early-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: role of skeletal muscle. Neurological Rehabilitation Division - Salvatore Maugeri Foundation, IRCCS, Scientific Institute of Verno, Veruno (NO), Italy.
  • Metabolic myopathies: new methods of functional evaluation. IRCCS Institute "Carlo Besta" Neurological Foundation, Milan, Italy. This study was funded by Telethon-UILDM, Project GUP08007
  • Exercise tolerance in patients with late-onset pump disease on the enzyme replacement therapy: effects of physical training and high-protein diet. University Hospital "Santa Maria della Misericordia", Udine. MIUR, Project GR-2011-02348868
  • Randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase 2 study on the effects of omaveloxone molecule on functional and clinical outcomes in patients with Friedreich Ataxia. IRCCS "Carlo Besta" Neurological Institute Foundation, Milan, Italy.

Expeditions and scientific campaigns:

  • 2007, Valdoltra (Slovenia): Adaptations of the oxidative metabolism of skeletal muscle following simulated microgravity in young subjects.
  • 2010, Pantelleria (Italy): Effects of different oxygen respiration mixtures on the formation of microbubbles in the blood and oxidative stress in the hyperbaric chamber.
  • 2011. Valdoltra (Slovenia): Adaptations of the oxidative metabolism of skeletal muscle following simulated microgravity in elderly subjects.
  • 2016, Rifugio Casati (Italy): Effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on exercise tolerance in subjects exposed to chronic hypobaric hypoxia.
  • 2019, Rifugio Gniffetti (Italy): Evaluation of cerebral deoxygenation / oxygenation during exercise in normobaric hypoxia and possible correlation with acute mountain sickness



Porcelli S, Ramaglia M, Bellistri G, Pavei G, Pugliese L, Montorsi M, Rasica L, Marzorati M. Aerobic Fitness Affects the Exercise Performance Responses to Nitrate Supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Aug;47(8):1643-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000577. PMID: 25412295.

Sarto F, Impellizzeri FM, Spörri J, Porcelli S, Olmo J, Requena B, Suarez-Arrones L, Arundale A, Bilsborough J, Buchheit M, Clubb J, Coutts A, Nabhan D, Torres-Ronda L, Mendez-Villanueva A, Mujika I, Maffiuletti NA, Franchi MV. Impact of Potential Physiological Changes due to COVID-19 Home Confinement on Athlete Health Protection in Elite Sports: a Call for Awareness in Sports Programming. Sports Med. 2020 Aug;50(8):1417-1419. doi: 10.1007/s40279-020-01297-6. PMID: 32468329; PMCID: PMC7254973.

Porcelli S, Marzorati M, Lanfranconi F, Vago P, Pisot R, Grassi B. Role of skeletal muscles impairment and brain oxygenation in limiting oxidative metabolism during exercise after bed rest. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Jul;109(1):101-11. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00782.2009. Epub 2010 Apr 15. PMID: 20395541.

Grassi B, Porcelli S, Salvadego D, Zoladz JA. Slow VO₂ kinetics during moderate-intensity exercise as markers of lower metabolic stability and lower exercise tolerance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Mar;111(3):345-55. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1609-1. Epub 2010 Sep 7. PMID: 20821336.

Poole DC, Ferguson SK, Musch TI, Porcelli S. Role of nitric oxide in convective and diffusive skeletal muscle microvascular oxygen kinetics. Nitric Oxide. 2022 Apr 1;121:34-44. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2022.01.005. Epub 2022 Feb 3. PMID: 35123062.