Maria Alexandra Brito


The Neurovascular Lab focuses on the blood-brain barrier in Neuropathology as a source of peripheral biomarkers reflecting brain dysfunction, a target for modulation to prevent disease onset and progression, and an obstacle to overcome to achieve therapeutic concentrations in the brain for treatment of brain disorders.


Biomarkers discovery

We inspect plasma samples for disproportional miRNAs and BBB-derived extracellular vesicles along disease progression as peripheral biomarkers of brain injury, particularly of BBB, and validate their origin by brain analysis.

Targets discovery

We perform biological and in silico assays for targets’ discovery and validate their expression in cellular systems, animal models, and patients’ samples.

Drug discovery

We screen libraries of molecules for their ability to improve barrier tightness and prevent brain entrance of cells/molecules, or cross the BBB for therapeutics.


Natural compounds neuroprotection and brain accessibility

We inspect natural compounds and/or bioactive metabolites for their ability to modulate BBB properties, cross it and promote neuroprotection.


Targeted therapies

We develop pharmacologic/genetic therapeutics to specifically act on the BBB or permeate it, as preventive or treatment strategies.

Biological systems

We use BBB and brain pathologies’ in vitro models, encompassing shear stress, in 2D or 3D, single, mixed or co-cultures, and a brain metastasization in vivo model.

Figueira I, Godinho-Pereira J, Galego S, Maia J, Haskó J, Molnár K, Malhó R, Costa-Silva B, Wilhelm I, Krizbai IA, Brito MA. MicroRNAs and extracellular vesicles as distinctive biomarkers of precocious and advanced stages of breast cancer brain metastases development. Int J Mol Sci 2021; 22: 5214. DOI: 10.3390/ijms22105214
Figueira I, Galego S, Custódio-Santos T, Vicente R, Molnár K, Haskó J, Malhó R, Videira M, Wilhelm I, Krizbai I, Brito MA. Picturing breast cancer brain metastasis development to unravel molecular players and cellular crosstalk. Cancers 2021; 13: 910. DOI: 10.3390/cancers13040910
Sereno M, Haskó J, Molnár K, Medina SJ, Reisz Z, Malhó R, Videira M, Tiszlavicz L, Booth SA, Wilhelm I, Krizbai IA, Brito MA. Downregulation of circulating miR 802-5p and miR 194-5p and upregulation of brain MEF2C along breast cancer brain metastasization. Mol Oncol 2020; 14: 520-538. DOI: 10.1002/1878-0261.12632
Figueira I, Tavares L, Jardim C, Costa I, Terrasso AP, Mes J, Gardner R, Becker JD, McDougall G, Stewart D, Filipe A, Kim KS, Brites D, Brito C, Brito MA, Santos CN. Blood-brain barrier transport and neuroprotective potential of blackberry-digested polyphenols - an in vitro study. Eur J Nutr 2019; 58: 113-130. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-017-1576-y
Janota CS, Brites D, Lemere CA, Brito MA. Glio-vascular changes during ageing in wild-type and Alzheimer׳s disease-like APP/PS1 mice. Brain Res 2015; 1620: 153-168. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.04.056

Maria Alexandra Brito

Group Leader


Phone: (+351) 217946449; 217946400 (Ext. 328)

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Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa | Av. Professor Gama Pinto
1649-003 Lisboa | Portugal

Phone | +351 217 946 400
Fax | +351 217 946 470
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