Area 4

Neuropharmacology and experimental neuropathology

Team leader

  • Guadalupe Mengod

Strategic objectives

Furthering of knowledge of the physiopathological mechanisms of neurological and psychiatric diseases and neurotoxic and aging processes of the central nervous system, with a view to identifying new cellular and functional targets and proposing new treatments.

Main lines of research

The Systems Neuropharmacology group studies the brain circuits and neuronal elements involved in the physiopathology and treatment of depression and schizophrenia. It also explores chemical neurotransmission processes and physiology in genetic and pharmacological models of psychiatric diseases, with a view to identifying new therapeutic targets. Recent key findings are the identification of the selective action of NMDA receptor antagonists on GABA neurons of the thalamic reticular nucleus and the production of rapid antidepressant effects with RNAi strategies.

The Neurotoxicity and Neurodegeneration Mechanisms group carries out studies on nerve cell death, oxidative stress, synaptic functions, genomics and proteomics, for the determination of altered targets in toxicity and aging processes of the central nervous system in vivo and in vitro. It also focuses on neuroprotective strategies and the development of in vitro methods for predicting neurotoxicity. Studies of agerelated cognitive loss focus in the preventive therapies of physical exercise and healthy diet and the signaling mechanisms involved.

The Molecular Neuropharmacology group is focussed in neurotransmission and its anatomical, cellular and molecular aspects implicated in neurodegenerative disorders with an inflammatory component:

  1. Modulation by cAMP regulation of cytokines and cells involved in neuroinflammation in the CNS of the multiple sclerosis mice model EAE;
  2. Proteomic identification and validation of proteins differentially altered in the brain of Alzheimer's disease and argyrophilic grain disease patients;
  3. Use of agonists for serotonin 5-HT4 receptors as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

The aim of the Cellular Neurobiology group is the study of novel targets to modulate neuroinflammation. We are focused on the role of transcription factors of the C/ EBP family and of neuronal-microglial communication molecules (CD200, CD200R, TREM2) in microglial activation and in microglial-induced neurotoxicity. We use primary cell cultures (mixed glial, astroglial and microglial-enriched, neuronal, mixed neuron-glial), cell lines and in vivo models of neuroinflammation (systemic LPS) and neurodegeneration (EAE, ME7 prion, G93A-SOD1 mice).

Wingless (Wnt) and Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathways are chief during embryonic development. However, their abnormal regulation causes growth malformations and different neoplastic pathologies. The Neuronal Proliferation Control group, is currently studying whether the polarity anomalies caused by oncogenic forms of β-Catenin, the main effector of Wnt pathway, are at the origin of Wnt subtype of Medulloblastomas. In addition, in another independent but related project we are trying to unravel the complex regulation of Adenylyl Cyclases induced by Sonic Hedgehog signalling pathway.

Research Group

Systems neuropharmacology group

Francesc Artigas


The group studies the brain networks involved in the physiopathology and treatment of depression and schizophrenia.

Research Group

Neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration mechanisms group

Cristina Suñol


The group studies neuronal targets in toxicity and aging processes by using in vivo and in vitro models. It also focuses on neuroprotection and on preventive therapies of physical exercise and healthy diet strategies for age-related cognitive loss.

Research Group

Molecular neuropharmacology group

Guadalupe Mengod


Neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and argyrophilic grain disease, both in animal models and human post-mortem brain tissue.

Research Group

Cellular neurobiology group

Josep Saura


The Cellular Neurobiology group is focused on the study of neuroinflammation.