Neuron-Glia Biology in Health and Disease

Group Leader

Dora Maria Tuna Oliveira Brites

PhD (1988) in Pharmacy (Biochemistry), Universidade de Lisboa
Coordinator Investigator, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade de Lisboa

The Research

Grupo DBrites

Our group was one of the first to look on microglia activation mechanisms in Portugal and is presently a national leader on the neuroinflammatory degenerative network mechanisms. The work focuses on the contributive role of glial cells for the onset and progression of neurodevelopmental and age-related disorders, using in-vivo, ex-vivo and in-vitro experimental models. Targets and disease mechanisms are used by the group to assess novel compounds aimed at preventing neurodegeneration and blood-brain barrier leakage. We are developing strategies to obtain and differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells in neural cells and designing 2D and 3D culture models that recapitulate Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, age-related neurodegeneration, neuropathic pain and brain cancer. Our final aims are to understand early processes associated to the emergence of such neurological pathologies, including the shedding, microRNA content and distribution of exosomes and ectosomes.

Neuron Glia

Ongoing Projects

Source: Joint Program – Neurodegenerative Disease Research project (JPCOFUND_FP-829-083)
Title: Generation of Improved Cellular and Animal Models for Identification of Disease Phenotype and New Therapeutic Targets of Alzheimer’s Disease
Local PI: Dora Brites (International Consortium)
Period: 2016-2018

Source: Swedish Research Council, in Medicine and Health (2015-03684)
Title: Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to study synucleinopathies
Local PI: Dora Brites (Project PI: Laurent Roybon, Lund University)
Period: 2016-2018

Source: Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa – Programa de Investigação Científica em Esclerose Lateral Amiotrófica
Title: Exploring the impact of astrocyte-derived microvesicles for motor neuron degeneration and as vehicles to delivery neuroprotective cargoes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
PI: Dora Brites
Period: 2016-2019

Source: Drugs policy initiatives-EU JUST/2014/JDRU/AG/DRUG
Title: Identification and assessment of new psychoactive substances: a European network
Local PI: Dora Brites (International Consortium)
Period: 2016-2018

Source: FCT – PTDC/EEI-ESS/4923/ 2014
Title: MIMED – Mining the Molecular Metric Space for Drug Design.
Team member: Maria Alexandra Brito
Period: 2016-2018

Recent Most Relevant Publications

Vaz AR, Cunha C, Gomes C, Schmucki N, Barbosa M, Brites D. Glycoursodeoxycholic Acid Reduces Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 and Caspase-9 Activation in a Cellular Model of Superoxide Dismutase-1 Neurodegeneration. Mol Neurobiol. 2015, 51(3):864 (IF = 5.471). DOI 10.1007/s12035-014-8731-8.

Palmela I, Correia L, Silva RFM, Sasaki H, Kim KS, Brites D, Brito MA. Hydrophilic bile acids protect human blood-brain barrier endothelial cells from disruption by unconjugated bilirubin: an in vitro study. Front Neurosci. 2015, 9:80.   (IF=3.656)  DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00080.

Cardoso FL, Herz J, Fernandes A, Rocha J, Sepodes B, Brito MA, McGavern DB, Brites D. Systemic inflammation in early neonatal mice induces transient and lasting neurodegenerative effects. J Neuroinflammation. 2015, 12:82. (IF = 5.408). DOI: 10.1186/s12974-015-0299-3.

Caldeira C, Oliveira AF, Cunha C, Vaz AR, Falcão AS, Fernandes A, Brites D. Microglia change from a reactive to an age-like phenotype with the time in culture. Front Cell Neurosci. 2014, 8: 152. (IF = 4.469) DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2014.00152.

Barateiro A, Afonso V, Santos G, Cerqueira JJ, Brites D, van Horssen J, Fernandes A. S100B as a biomarker and therapeutic target in multiple sclerosis. Mol Neurobiol. 2015 (IF = 5.137) DOI:10.1007/s12035-015-9336-6.

Group Members

Master Students

  • Mafalda Monteiro
  • Maria Nunes
  • Rui Pinheiro
  • Sara Pinto
  • Tânia Santos
  • Margarida Tenreiro


  • Carla Ferreira
  • Marta Barbosa
  • Rute Padre-Santo