Lines of investigation

Research lines of our laboratory are focused on the identification of genes and proteins implicated in the occurrence and development of psychiatric (anxiety, depression, substance use, post-traumatic stress, etc.) and neurological (Parkinson´s disease, Alzheimer´s disease, etc.) disorders, which can be relevant for the discovery of new therapeutic targets to improve its pharmacological management.

For that purpose, we employ validated animal models of the psychiatric and neurological disorders that we want to study. These animal models must be able to reproduce, at least in part, certain behavioural traits and/or neurobiological features of the illnesses that they are simulating. Thus, the objective is to enhance the translational capacity of animal modelization that allows for applying the results to the patient.

The improvement of our knowledge about the alterations implicated in the aetiology and the development of different psychiatric and neurological disorders is one of our main goals, closely related with the discovery of more effective and safer pharmacological approaches. In the last years, we are focused on the role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of different brain functions and its potential pharmacotherapeutic exploitation. To this aim, we are very interested in the behavioural and neurochemical effects of genetic or pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system, employing transgenic animal models or cannabinoid compounds, respectively.

In our studies, we design and perform experiments to evaluate behavioral features related with emotional (anxiety, depression, stress, etc.) and cognitive (prepulse inhibition, memory impairment, etc.) alterations, and with the reinforcing and motivational effects of drugs of abuse (alcohol, cocaine, etc.). Furthermore, to evaluate the neurochemical changes that could be related with behaviour, we analyse gene expression of key targets by real time PCR or in situ hybridization experiments, as well as protein expression by immunohistochemistry or Western Blot techniques.

Laboratory members have a long-lasting and continuous relationship with several groups of psychiatrists and neurologists. This fact has significantly contributed to establish a reciprocal bridge of information between preclinical and clinical research, which has been reflected in several joint publications. Our objective is to maintain and to strengthen this type of collaborative strategies aimed to encourage translational research and finally improve the quality of life of psychiatric and neurological patients.

Representative Publications

Research groups of Unit

Molecular Neurobiology and Neuropathology

Research groups of Scientific Program