Understanding the neural bases of depression to develop new therapies

Rodrigo A. Cunha

Project awarded in collaboration with the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia


    Rodrigo A. Cunha


    Center for Neurosciences and Cell Biology (CNC), Portugal


    Depression and mood disorders account for close to 50% of the burden of diseases in Europe and are responsible for a rate of 1 suicide every 40 seconds. However, its causes are unknown and there are no effective treatments.

    Lifestyle may contribute to an increase in these mental health problems. In particular, repeated exposure to stress can precipitate the onset of depression, reducing drastically the quality of life.

    The project approaches the neurobiology of depression with a new hypothesis, which focuses on a type of dysfunctional connection of neurons involved in the brain’s reward and aversion systems. Its malfunction would alter the emotional state, which would explain the depression.

    The goal is to better understand the neural bases of this mental disorder in order to develop new treatments.


    Adenosine A2A receptors as a new opportunity to manage and detail the neurobiology of emotional distress