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Neuropharmacology and Neuropsychiatry

Group:

Neuropharmacology and Neuropsychiatry group

Mental well-being is integral to population health and highly contributes to the functioning of individuals, families, communities and the social and economic prosperity of society. In fact, Psychiatric disorders have a huge impact not only in the individual but in society in general. Translational research in mental disorders - from bench to bedside – is crucial to give a step forward in the comprehension of such diseases. Thus, our main goal is to unravel the neurobiology behind Psychiatric disorders to ultimately contribute to improve patient´s lives, keeping in mind that an early intervention during development would improve patient´s outcome.

Our group is focus on neurodevelopmental disorders and their repercussions in the adulthood. We aim to explore some disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression and drugs abuse, with particular focus on psychostimulants. Additionally, the role of adverse life events and specific brain insults, such as traumatic brain injury, as triggers of Psychiatric disorders is also being investigated. Some specific questions have been raised by the team as follows:

1. What happens to an ADHD brain without treatment or if the treatment is ceased? Or What are the consequences of methylphenidate (non)prescription?

2. What are the consequences of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) abuse/misuse?

3. Is there a link between early-life events and psychiatric events in the adulthood?

4. Immune “challenges” during neurodevelopment affect brain wiring and neuropsychiatric health in a gender-specific manner. Is this gender specification of risk to neuropsychiatric disorders mediated by microglia plasticity?

At the cellular level, the team is mainly exploring neuroinflammatory and neurovascular alterations. Glial cells are considered the immune cells of the central nervous system playing a key role in physiological brain development, including in synaptogenesis. Study of association between brain health and immune changes is a main goal of our team. Moreover, glial cells play also an important role at the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This dynamic barrier highly selective, comprise by endothelial cells (ECs) that form brain capillaries, is responsible for the protection and maintenance of brain microenvironment proper for neural function. Notwithstanding, this unique brain immune quiescence can be altered in various pathological processes and it is now accepted that brain endothelial cells have an active role on brain function.

Pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies, including physical exercise, will be pursued by the team in an attempt to improve or prevent neuropsychiatric alterations.