Laboratory of Glial Biology

Oxytocin (OXT) is a hypothalamus-derived neuropeptide majorly secreted via the posterior pituitary. In OXT neurons, dendritic and axonal synapses store and release OXT during social and reproductive behavior. Reduced hypothalamic OXT content and genetic polymorphisms in oxytocin receptor are observed in autism-like mice models and socially-impaired children respectively. These observations led to the controversial OXT-deficit hypothesis of autism spectrum disorders. Thus, investigating the molecular mechanisms that regulate synaptic OXT content and release are essential to understand autism spectrum disorders.

At a molecular level, astrocyte-like cells, pituicytes that are closely-associated with the neurohypophyseal axonal terminals can secrete factors that affect OXT content or release. However, the identity and the role of pituicyte-derived secreted factors that can regulate synaptic OXT are largely unknown. Finally, situated outside the blood-brain barrier (BBB), pituicytes are directly exposed to the blood-borne molecules and are highly responsive to physiological challenges to promote synaptic plasticity. But the identity and the role of the pituicyte-derived cues that regulate OXT axonal terminals and OXT neuropeptide content upon challenges are largely unknown.

The research aim of the group is to identify challenge-induced pituicyte-derived secreted factors that regulate neurohypophyseal synaptic OXT content.

Savani Anbalagan, PhD
phone: +48 22 55 43836
room: 02.103


Centre of New Technologies (CeNT)

University of Warsaw

Stefana Banacha 2c

02-097 Warsaw, POLAND


Education and degrees

2014 PhD in Industrial Biotechnology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009 Master of Technology in Industrial Biotechnoloy, SASTRA University, Thanjavur, India


Research experience and appointments:

Since July 2019 Assistant Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Glial biology at CeNT, University of Warsaw.

2015-2019 Senior Postdoc in Prof. Gil Levkowitz group, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2013-2015 Postdoc in Prof. Gil Levkowitz group, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2009-2012 Doctoral student in Prof. Maria Pia Longhese group, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009 Guest student at Prof. Daniel Otzen group, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark


2018 Award for outstanding achievements in postdoctoral research, Feinberg Graduate School, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2016 Koshland Prize, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2015-2018 Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2013-2015 Israel PBC Fellowship for Outstanding Post-Doctoral Researchers from China and India

2012 Award for Best project proposal, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009-2012 EU-FP7 Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher during PhD studies

2008 Indian Academy of Science – Summer Research Fellowship


Key Publications

Anbalagan S*, Blechman J*, Gliksberg M, Gordon L, Rotkopf R, Dadosh T, Shimoni E, Levkowitz G. Synaptic actin dynamics regulates oxytocin neuropeptide content in vivo. eLife 2019

Anbalagan S*, Gordon L*, Blechman J, Matsuoka R, Rajamannar P, Wircer E, Biran J, Reuveny E, Leshkowitz D, Stainier D.Y.R, Levkowitz G. Pituicyte cues regulate the development of permeable neuro-vascular interfaces. Dev Cell. 2018

Bonetti D, Anbalagan S, Lucchini G, Clerici M, Longhese MP. Tbf1 and Vid22 promote resection and non-homologous end joining of DNA double-strand break ends. EMBO J. 2013.

Anbalagan S, Bonetti D, Lucchini G, Longhese MP. Rif1 supports the function of the CST complex in yeast telomere capping. PLoS Genet. 2011.

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