Stefano Comai RicercatoreMedicina

Research Activity

Curriculum Vitae


Research Activity

The major aim of my research is devoted to the study of the serotonin and melatonin systems that share the same precursor, the amino acid tryptophan, to determine the extent to which these metabolically connected systems are involved in the etiology and treatment of mood disorders, Moreover, during the past 5 years, I am starting to expand my interests to other possible psychopharmacological targets (e.g. the endocannabinoid system) and therapies (the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and low-dose psychedelics) for mood disorders. The ultimate goal is to increase our understanding of the neurobiological/pathophysiological mechanisms of mood disorders, and with this novel knowledge to develop new pharmacologically psychoactive compounds. Moreover, in the view of a personalized medicine approach of psychiatric disorders, I also aim to implement a series of biomarkers of disease and of treatment response.

Curriculum Vitae


2003  Pharm.D.

         University of Padova, Italy

         110/110 “Maxima cum laude”

2007   Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences

          Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

          University of Padova, Italy


Professional Experience

2004-2007  - PhD Fellow, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences,  Padova, Italy

2007-2009  - Post-doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Padova, Italy

2009-2012  - Post-doctoral Fellow, Dept of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

2012-June 2015 - Research Associate, Dept of Psychiatry, McGill University and McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada

October 2015-September 2020 - Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, San Raffaele Institute and Vita-Salute University, Milan, Italy

December 2017-to date - Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

October 2020-to date - Assistant Professor of Pharmacology (tenure track), University of Padua, Padua, Italy

February 2021- to date  - Researcher at the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute.



2021-2024     Italian Ministry of Health. Role: Principal Investigator.

Title of the project: The clock is ticking on schizophrenia: a translational study integrating phenotypic, genomic, microbiome and biomolecular data to overcome disability.

Total funded: 450,000 Euro.

2020 – 2025     Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Role: Co-Investigator.

Title of the project: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and social behavior. A translational study.

Principal Applicant: Prof. Gabriella Gobbi. Co-investigators: Francis Rodriguez Bambico; Nahum Sonenberg, Marco Leyton, Katrin Preller, Danilo De Gregorio.

Total Funded: 784,000 Canadian Dollar.


Title of the project: Novel First-In-Class Melatonin MT2 Receptor Agonist for Neuropathic Pain: Investigational New Drug (IND) - Enabling Studies.

Project Coordinator: Prof. Gabriella Gobbi, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Co-investigator: Prof. Robert Zamboni

Total funded: 1,450,000 Canadian Dollar


Author of 77 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Peer reviewed articles last 3 years:

  1. Inserra A, De Gregorio D, Rezai T, Lopez-Canul MG, Comai S, Gobbi G.

Lysergic acid diethylamide differentially modulates the reticular thalamus, mediodorsal thalamus, and infralimbic prefrontal cortex: An in vivo electrophysiology study in male mice. J Psychopharmacol. 2021 Mar 1: in press

  1. De Gregorio D, Popic J, Enns JP, Inserra A, Skalecka A, Markopoulos A, Posa L, Lopez-Canul M, Qianzi H, Lafferty CK, Britt JP, Comai S, Aguilar-Valles A, Sonenberg N, Gobbi G.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) promotes social behavior through mTORC1 in the excitatory neurotransmission. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 2;118(5):e2020705118.

  1. Angeloni D, Gobbi G, Comai S.

Franco Fraschini, MD, PhD (1932-2020). J Pineal Res. 2021 Jan;70(1):e12688.

  1. Tassan Mazzocco M, Guarnieri FC, Monzani E, Benfenati F, Valtorta F, Comai S#.# Corresponding author.

Dysfunction of the serotonergic system in the brain of synapsin triple knockout mice is associated with behavioral abnormalities resembling synapsin-related human pathologies. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 8;105:110135.

  1. Wang Q, Zhu D, Ping S, Li C, Pang K, Zhu S, Zhang J, Comai S, Sun J.

Melatonin recovers sleep phase delayed by MK-801 through the melatonin MT2 receptor- Ca2+ -CaMKII-CREB pathway in the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus. J Pineal Res. 2020 Oct;69(3):e12674.

  1. Nazzari S, Molteni M, Valtorta F, Comai S#, Frigerio A. # Corresponding author

Prenatal IL-6 levels and activation of the tryptophan to kynurenine pathway are associated with depressive but not anxiety symptoms across the perinatal and the post-partum period in a low-risk sample. Brain Behav Immun 2020 Oct;89:175-183.

  1. Cambiaghi M, Buffelli M, Masin L, Valtorta F, Comai S#. # Corresponding author.

Transcranial direct current stimulation of the mouse prefrontal cortex modulates serotonergic neural activity of the dorsal raphe nucleus. Brain Stimul. 2020;13(3):548-550.

  1. Comai S, De Gregorio D, Posa L, Ochoa-Sanchez R, Bedini A, Gobbi G.

Dysfunction of serotonergic activity and emotional responses across the light-dark cycle in mice lacking melatonin MT2 receptors. J Pineal Res. 2020 Apr 1:e12653.

  1. Comai S, Bertazzo A, Brughera M, Crotti S.

Tryptophan in health and disease. Adv Clin Chem. 2020;95:165-218.

  1. Manchia M, Squassina A, Pisanu C, Congiu D, Garzilli M, Guiso B, Suprani F, Paribello P, Pulcinelli V, Iaselli MN, Pinna F, Valtorta F, Carpiniello B, Comai S#. # Corresponding author.

Investigating the relationship between melatonin levels, melatonin system, microbiota composition and bipolar disorder psychopathology across the different phases of the disease. Int J Bipolar Disord. 2019 Dec 9;7(1):27.

  1. Poletti S, Melloni E, Aggio V, Colombo C, Valtorta F, Benedetti F, Comai S.

Grey and white matter structure associates with the activation of the tryptophan to kynurenine pathway in bipolar disorder. J Affect Disord. 2019 Dec 1;259:404-412.

  1. López-Canul M, Min SH, Posa L, De Gregorio D, Bedini A, Spadoni G, Gobbi G, Comai S#. # Corresponding author.

Melatonin MT1 and MT2 Receptors Exhibit Distinct Effects in the Modulation of Body Temperature across the Light/Dark Cycle. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(10). pii: E2452.

  1. Manchia M#, Comai S#,*, Pinna M, Pinna F, Fanos V, Denovan-Wright E, Carpiniello B.

Biomarkers in aggression. Adv Clin Chem. 2019;93:169-237.  # Equal contribution;* Corresponding author.

  1. Comai S#, Lopez-Canul M, De Gregorio D, Posner A, Ettaoussi M, Guarnieri F, Gobbi G.

Melatonin MT1 receptor as a novel target in neuropsychopharmacology: MT1 ligands, pathophysiological and therapeutic implications and perspectives.

Pharmacol Res. 2019 Jun;144:343-356.  # Corresponding author.

  1. De Gregorio D, Manchia M, Carpiniello B, Valtorta F, Nobile M, Gobbi G, Comai S. Role of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) in depression: Translational evidence. J Affect Disord. 2019 Aug 1;255. pii: S0165-0327(18)31599-4.
  2. Gobbi G, Comai S. Differential Function of Melatonin MT1 and MT2 Receptors in REM and NREM Sleep. Front Endocrinol. 2019;10:87.
  3. Gobbi G, Comai S. Sleep well. Untangling the role of melatonin MT1 and MT2 receptors in sleep. J Pineal Res. 2019 Apr;66(3):e12544.
  4. Comai S, Bertazzo A, Vachon J, Daigle M, Toupin J, Côté G, Gobbi G. Trace elements among a sample of prisoners with mental and personality disorders and aggression: correlation with impulsivity and ADHD indices. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2019 Jan;51:123-129.
  5. De Gregorio D, McLaughlin R, Posa L, Ochoa-Sanchez R, Enns J, Lopez-Canul M, Aboud M, Maione S, Comai S, Gobbi G.

Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and prevents allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain. 2019 Jan;160(1):136-150.

  1. Messaoud A, Rym M, Wahiba D, Neffati F, Fadhel Najjar M, Gobbi G, Valtorta F, Lotfi G, Comai S.

Reduced peripheral availability of tryptophan and increased activation of the kynurenine pathway and cortisol correlate with major depression and suicide. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2019;20(9):703-711.

  1. Aguilar-Valles A, Haji N, De Gregorio D, Matta-Camacho E, Cao R, Rummel C, Carrillo-Roa T, Tanti A, Fiori L, Wiebe S, Nunez N, Atkin T, Comai S, Nadon R, Luheshi G, Mechawar N, Turecki G, Binder E, Lacaille JC, Gobbi G, Sonenberg N.

Translational control of depression via phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E.

Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 25;9(1):2459.

  1. Bambico F, Comai S, Hasan N, Conway JD, Darvish-Gane S, Hamani C, Gobbi G, Nobrega J.

High frequency stimulation of the anterior vermis modulates behavioural response to chronic stress: involvement of the prefrontal cortex and dorsal raphe? Neurobiol Dis. 2018 Aug;116:166-178.

  1. Posa L, De Gregorio D, Gobbi G, Comai S.

Targeting melatonin MT2 receptors: a novel pharmacological avenue for inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Curr Med Chem. 2018;25(32):3866-3882.

  1. Nuñez N, Comai S, Dumitrescu E, Ghabrash M, Tabaka J, Saint-Laurent M, Vida S, Kolivakis T, Fielding A, Low N, Cervantes P; Booij L, Gobbi G.

Psychopathological and Sociodemographic features in Treatment-Resistant UnipolarDepression versus Bipolar Depression: A Comparative Study. BMC Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 16;18(1):68.

  1. Atkin T, Comai S, Gobbi G.

Drugs for Insomnia Beyond Benzodiazepines: Pharmacology, Clinical Applications, and Drug Discovery. Pharm Rev, 2018 Apr;70(2):197-245.

  1. Gobbi G, Ghabrash M, Nuñez N, Tabaka J, Di Sante J, Saint-Laurent M, Vida S, Kolivakis T, Low N, Cervantes P; Booij L, Comai S.

Antidepressant combination vs antidepressants plus second generation antipsychotic augmentation in treatment-resistant unipolar depression. Int Clin Psychopharmacol, 2018 Jan;33(1):34-43.


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