Monitoring and modulation of brain circuits in brain disorders. PI: Mercè Masana Nadal


In our group we are interested in developing new experimental approaches to evaluate alterations in brain circuits of brain diseases. Once the circuits have been identified, we look for strategies to modulate them selectively and thus correct the symptoms of motor, cognitive and affective behavior that are altered. In recent years we have used calcium imaging in vitro and optogenetics and magnetic resonance imaging techniques in in vivo experimental models to study alterations in brain circuits in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s disease. Our goal now is to use these techniques to characterize different neural circuits affected in Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Chorea Acanthocytosis, and to restore their function noninvasively.

Mercè Masana Nadal
Assistant professor


Sara Conde Berriozábal
Pre-doctoral researcher


Esther García-García
Pre-doctoral researcher


Laia Sitjà Roqueta
Pre-doctoral researcher


Albert Coll Manzano
Laboratory technician

Development of non-invasive in vivo brain circuit monitoring and modulation techniques.

Characterization and modulation of the different basal ganglia circuits using optogenetics and study of their involvement in movement control in Huntington's disease.

Study of the expression and function of the VPS13a protein in the brain and its relevance in the control of movement in Chorea Acanthocytosis disease.

  • Non-invasive dynamic neural control by laser-based technology (NEUROPA)

Project reference: 863214
Principal Investigator: Mercè Masana Nadal
Affiliation entity: Universitat de Barcelona
Funding entity: EUUN - European union
Amount: 451.070,00 €
Period: 2020 - 2022

  • Identification of chorein function in neurodegeneration of the basal ganglia for developing new therapeutical approaches in Chorea-Acanthocytosis

Project reference: 21613
Principal Investigators: Jordi Alberch Vié, Manuel José Rodriguez Allué and Mercè Masana Nadal
Affiliation entity: Universitat de Barcelona
Funding entity: Fundació ChAC
Amount: 50.000,00 €
Period: 2018 - 2021

  • Validation of two pharmaceutical compounds provided by Esteve Pharmaceuticals, S.A. in models of Huntington's disease (HD)

Project reference: Contract
Principal Investigators: Jordi Alberch Vié and Mercè Masana Nadal
Affiliation entity: Universitat de Barcelona
Funding entity: Esteve Pharmaceuticals, S.A
Amount: 58.850,00 €
Period: 2019 - 2020

For more information for PI publications click in the link:

ORCID: 0000-0003-1392-4774
Research ID: K-5302-2014

Sara Fernández-García, Sara Conde-Berriozábal, Esther García-García, Clara Gort-Paniello , David Bernal-Casas, Gerardo García-Díaz Barriga, Javier López-Gil, Emma Muñoz-Moreno, Guadalupe Sòria, Leticia Campa, Francesc Artigas, Manuel José Rodríguez, Jordi Alberch and Mercè Masana (2020). M2 Cortex-Dorsolateral striatum stimulation reverses motor symptoms and synaptic deficits in Huntington's Disease. eLife 2020;9:e57017. DOI: IF:7.080–D1–Biology. PMID: 33016873.

Núria Martín-Flores, Leticia Pérez-Sisqués, Jordi Creus-Muncunill, Mercè Masana, Silvia Gines, Jordi Alberch, Esther Perez-Navarro and Cristina Malagelada  (2020). Synaptic RTP801 contributes to motor learning dysfunction in huntington’s disease. Cell Death & Disease. IF: 6.304 –Q1–Cell Biology.

Fernández-García, J. G. Orlandi, A. García-Díaz Barriga, M. J. Rodríguez, M. Masana, J. Soriano, J. Alberch (2020). Deficits in coordinated neuronal activity and network topology are striatal hallmarks in Huntington’s Disease. BMC Biology (18) 58. IF:6.723 –Q1–Biology.

Anya Kim, Esther García-García, Marco Straccia, Andrea Comella-Bolla, Andrés Miguez, Mercè Masana, Jordi Alberch, Josep M. Canals, Manuel J Rodríguez (2020). Reduced Fractalkine Levels Lead To Striatal Synaptic Plasticity Deficits In Huntington’s Disease. Accepted in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. IF: 3.9 –Q1–Neuroscience. 10.3389/fncel.2020.00163.

Jordi Creus-Muncunill, Raquel Badillos-Rodríguez, Marta Garcia-Forn, Mercè Masana, Gerardo Garcia-Díaz Barriga, Anna Guisado-Corcoll, Jordi Alberch, Cristina Malagelada, José M. Delgado-García, Agnès Gruart, Esther Pérez-Navarro (2019). Increased translation as a novel pathogenic mechanism in Huntington’s disease. Brain Oct 1;142(10): 3158-3175. doi: 10.1093/ brain/awz230. IF: 11.814 –D1–Neuroscience. PMID: 31365052.

Brito V, Giralt A, Masana M, Royes A, Espina M, Sieiro E, Alberch J, Castañé A, Girault JA, Ginés S (2019). Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 Dysfunction Contributes to Depressive-like Behaviors in Huntington's Disease by Altering the DARPP-32 Phosphorylation Status in the Nucleus Accumbens. Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 13. pii: S0006-3223(19) 30151-9. doi: 10.1016 /j.biopsych. 2019.03.001. IF: 11.501 –D1–Neuroscience. PMID: 31060804.

Glòria Blázquez; Anna Castañé; Ana Saavedra; Mercè Masana; Jordi Alberch; Francesc Artigas; Esther Pérez-Navarro (2019). Social memory and social patterns alterations in the absence of STriatal-Enriched protein tyrosine. Phosphatase. Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience. 10.3389/fnbeh. 2018.00317. IF: 2.622 –Q2–Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. PMID: 30760987.

Kretzschmar A, Schülke JP, Masana M, Dürre K, Müller MB, Bausch AR, Rein T (2018). The Stress-Inducible Protein DRR1 Exerts Distinct Effects on Actin Dynamics. Int J Mol Sci. 19(12). pii: E3993. doi: 10.3390/ ijms19123993. IF: 4.183 –Q2–Biochemistry ¬molecular biologyology. PMID: 30545002.

M. Masana, S. Westerholz, A. Kretzschmar, G. Treccani, C. Liebl, S. Santarelli, C. Dournes, M. Popoli, M.V. Schmidt, T. Rein, M.B. Müller (2018). Expression and glucocorticoid-dependent regulation of the stress-inducible protein DRR1 in the mouse adult brain. Brain Structure and Function. doi: 10.1007/s00429-018-1737-7. (Autor de correspondència) IF: 4.2-D1-Anatomy and morphology. PMID: 30121783.

N. Cabezas-Llobet, L. Vidal-Sancho, M. Masana, A. Fournier, J. Alberch, D. Vaudry, X.Xifró (2018). Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) enhances hippocampal synaptic plasticity in Huntington’s disease by up-regulation of PAC1 receptor expression. Molecular Neurobiology doi: 10.1007/ s12035-018-0972-5. PMID: 29526016.

S. Santarelli, C. A. Zimmermann, G. Kalideris, S. L. Lesuis, J. Arloth, A. Uribe, C. Dournes, G. Balsevich, J. Hartmann, M. Masana, E. Binder, D. Spengler, M. Schmidt (2017). An adverse early life environment can enhance stress resilience in adulthood. Psychoneuroendocrinology 78:213-221. IF: 5.135 Q1–Neuroscience. doi: 10.1016 /j.psyneuen. 2017.01.021. Epub 2017 Feb 7. PMID: 28219813.

A. Uribe-Mariño, N. C. Gassen, M. F. Wiesbeck, G. Balsevich1, S. Santarelli, B. Solfrank, C. Dournes, G. R. Fries, M. Masana, C. Labermeier, X-D. Wang, K. Hafner, B. Schmid, T. Rein, A. Chen, J.M. Deussing, M. V. Schmidt (2016). Prefrontal cortex corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 conveys acute stress induced executive dysfunction. Biological psychiatry 80(10):743-753. IF: 9.472 –Q1–Neuroscience. doi: 10.1016 /j.biopsych. 2016.03.2106. Epub 2016 Apr 8. PMID: 27318500.

M.A. van der Kooij*, M. Masana*, M. Rust, M.B. Müller (2016). The stressed cytoskeleton: how neuronal actin dynamics can shape stress-related consequences on synaptic plasticity and complex behaviour. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 62:69-75. IF: 8.802 –Q1–Neuroscience *Co-primera autora. doi: 10.1016 / j.neubiorev.  2015.12.001. Epub 2015 Dec 12. PMID: 26691726.

S. Santarelli, K. V. Wagner, C. Labermaier, A. Uribe, C. Dournes, G. Balsevich, J. Hartmann, M. Masana, F. Holsboer, A. Chen, M. B. Müller, M. V. Schmidt (2016). SLC6A15, a novel stress vulnerability candidate, modulates anxiety and depressive-like behavior: involvement of the glutamatergic system. Stress 19(1):83-90. IF:2.715 –Q2–Behavioral Sciences. doi: 10.3109/ 10253890. 2015.1105211. Epub 2015 Nov 20. PMID: 26585320.

M. Masana, M. M. Jukic, A. Kretzschmar, K.V. Wagner, S. Westerholz, M.V. Schmidt, T. Rein, C. Brodski, M.B. Müller (2015). Deciphering the spatio-temporal expression and stress regulation of Fam107B, the paralog of the resilience-promoting protein DRR1 in the mouse brain. Neuroscience 290:147–158. (Autor de correspondència) IF:3.327 –Q2–Neuroscience. doi: 10.1016 /j.neuroscience. 2015.01.026. Epub 2015 Jan 28. PMID: 25637808.

S. Filser, S.V. Ovsepian, M. Masana, L. Blazquez-Llorca, A.B. Elvang, C. Volbracht, M.B. Müller, CKE. Jung, J. Herms (2015). Pharmacological Inhibition of BACE1 Can Impair Synaptic Plasticity and Cognitive Functions. Biological psychiatry 77(8):729–739. IF: 9.472 –Q1–Neuroscience. doi: 10.1016 /j.biopsych. 2014.10.013. Epub 2014 Oct 29. PMID: 25599931.

M. Masana*, Y-A. Su*, C. Liebl, X-D. Wang, L. Jansen, S. Westerholz, K.V. Wagner, C. Labermaier, S.H. Scharf,  S. Santarelli, J. Hartmann, M.V. Schmidt, T. Rein, M.B. Müller (2014). The stress-inducible actin-interacting protein DRR1 shapes social behaviour. Psychoneuroendocrinology 48:98-110. *Co-primera autora i autora de correspondència. IF: 5.135 –Q1–Neuroscience.  doi: 10.1016 /j.psyneuen. 2014.06.009. Epub 2014 Jun 19. PMID: 24998413.

C. Labermaier*, M. Masana*, M.B. Müller (2013). Biomarkers predicting antidepressant treatment response – how can we advance the field? Disease markers 35(1):23-31.*Co-primera autora. IF: 2.140 –Q2- Pathology

A. Ferrés-Coy, F. Pilar-Cuellar, R. Vidal, V. Paz, M. Masana, R. Cortés, M.C. Carmona, L. Campa, A. Pazos, A. Montefeltro, E.M. Valdizán, F. Artigas and A. Bortolozzi (2013). RNAi-mediated serotonin transporter suppression rapidly increases serotonergic neurotransmission and hippocampal neurogenesis. Translational Psychiatry 3:e211. IF: 4.360 – Q1–Psychiatry. doi: 10.1155/2013/984845. Epub 2013 Jul 21. doi: 10.1038/ tp.2012.135. PMID: 23321808.

M. Masana, N. Santana, F. Artigas, A. Bortolozzi (2012). Dopamine Neurotransmission and Atypical Antipsychotics in Prefrontal Cortex: A Critical Review. Current Topic in Medicinal Chemistry 12(21):2357-74. IF: 3.702 – Q1- Chemistry, Medicinal. doi: 10.2174/ 156802612805289872. PMID: 23279176.

M. Masana, A. Castañé, N. Santana, A. Bortolozzi, F. Artigas (2012). Noradrenergic antidepressants increase cortical dopamine: Potential use in augmentation strategies. Neuropharmacology 63 675:684. IF: 4.114-Q1-Pharmacology and Pharmacy. doi: 10.1016/ j.neuropharm. 2012.05.020. Epub 2012 May 28. PMID: 22652058.

M. Masana, A. Bortolozzi, F. Artigas (2011). Selective enhacement of mesocortical dopaminergic transmission by noradrenergic drugs: Therapeutic opportunities in schizophrenia. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 14(1): 53-68. IF:5.641-Q1-Neuroscience. doi: 10.1017/ S1461145710000908. Epub 2010 Aug 12. PMID: 20701825.

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