New therapeutic strategies in neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson's disease, tauopathies and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

The aging of the population poses a growing burden in society. This is associated with an increase in disability and diseases that have a high impact on health care, on patients and their families. Also, aging is associated with the emergence of different neurodegenerative diseases among which include Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Therefore, the development of advanced biological markers, new drugs and appropriate technology is the key to establishing a treatment for these diseases, which is currently an important social challenge. In our laboratory we study the molecular basis of neurodegeneration. The research projects we develop have a multidisciplinary approach that combines basic and translational research, using cell culture techniques, murine models and postmortem samples from patients with AD, PD and ALS.

Currently, our research is focused on addressing three key aspects of neurodegeneration:

1) Proteinopathy: the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles of TAU protein, involved in neurodegeneration processes, appear in AD. In the case of PD, the alpha-synuclein protein plays a key role in the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, forming part of the Lewy bodies. And in ALS there is alteration of RNA metabolism and homeostasis. Recent work that connects TDP-43 and FUS to stress granules has suggested how this cellular pathway, which involves the aggregation of proteins as part of their normal function, is altered in ALS. We are interested in determining the role of these proteins in the neurodegeration process.

2) Inflammation: it is a process that appears in the first stages of the disease and aggravates neurodegeneration. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are characterized by what is called chronic low-grade inflammation, so we want to determine what causes this inflammation and how it can be prevented or stopped.

3) Oxidative stress: it is imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and the ability of a biological system to quickly decode the intermediate reagents or repair the resulting damage. It has been observed that this imbalance is present in these neurodegenerative diseases, so we want to study what it is that causes it and how to reverse it.


Fittschen M*, Lastres-Becker I*, Halbach MV, Damrath E, Gispert S, Azizov M, Walter M, Müller S, Auburger G. Genetic ablation of ataxin-2 increases several global translation factors in their transcript abundance but decrease translation rate. Neurogenetics. 2015 Jul;16(3):181-92. doi: 10.1007/s10048-015-0441-5. PubMed PMID: 25721894; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4475250.

Cuadrado A, Martín-Moldes Z, Ye J, Lastres-Becker I. Transcription factors NRF2 and NF-κB are coordinated effectors of the Rho family, GTP-binding protein RAC1 during inflammation. J Biol Chem. 2014 May 30;289(22):15244-58. doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.540633. PubMed PMID: 24759106; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4140883.

Lastres-Becker I*, Innamorato NG, Jaworski T, Rábano A, Kügler S, Van Leuven F, Cuadrado A*. Fractalkine activates NRF2/NFE2L2 and heme oxygenase 1 to restrain tauopathy-induced microgliosis. Brain. 2014 Jan;137(Pt 1):78-91. doi: 10.1093/brain/awt323. PubMed PMID: 24277722.

Lastres-Becker I*, Ulusoy A, Innamorato NG, Sahin G, Rábano A, Kirik D, Cuadrado A*. α-Synuclein expression and Nrf2 deficiency cooperate to aggravate protein aggregation, neuronal death and inflammation in early-stage Parkinson's disease. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jul 15;21(14):3173-92. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds143. PubMed PMID: 22513881.

Kurz A, Double KL, Lastres-Becker I, Tozzi A, Tantucci M, Bockhart V, Bonin M, García-Arencibia M, Nuber S, Schlaudraff F, Liss B, Fernández-Ruiz J, Gerlach M, Wüllner U, Lüddens H, Calabresi P, Auburger G, Gispert S. A53T-alpha-synuclein overexpression impairs dopamine signaling and striatal synaptic plasticity in old mice. PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11464. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011464. PubMed PMID: 20628651; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2898885.



Castro-Sánchez S, García-Yagüe ÁJ, López-Royo T, Casarejos M, Lanciego JL, Lastres-Becker I. Cx3cr1-deficiency exacerbates alpha-synuclein-A53T induced neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease.  Glia. 2018 Apr 6. doi: 10.1002/glia.23338. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29624735.

Cuadrado A, Kügler S, Lastres-Becker I. Pharmacological targeting of GSK-3 and NRF2 provides neuroprotection in a preclinical model of tauopathy. Redox Biol. 2018 Apr;14:522-534. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Nov 6. PubMed PMID: 29121589; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5681345.

Lastres-Becker I. Role of the Transcription Factor Nrf2 in Parkinson’s Disease: New Insights. J Alzheimers Dis Parkinsonism 2017, 7:4. DOI: 10.4172/2161-0460.1000340

Lastres-Becker I*, Nonis D, Eich F, Klinkenberg M, Gorospe M, Kötter P, Klein FA, Kedersha N, Auburger G*. Mammalian ataxin-2 modulates translation control at the pre-initiation complex via PI3K/mTOR and is induced by starvation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Sep;1862(9):1558-69. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2016.05.017. PubMed PMID: 27240544; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4967000.

Lastres-Becker I*, García-Yagüe AJ, Scannevin RH, Casarejos MJ, Kügler S, Rábano A, Cuadrado A*. Repurposing the NRF2 Activator Dimethyl Fumarate as Therapy Against Synucleinopathy in Parkinson's Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2016 Jul 10;25(2):61-77. doi: 10.1089/ars.2015.6549. PubMed PMID: 27009601; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4943471.




Principal investigator: Isabel Lastres-Becker

Postdoctoral: Marina Arribas Blázquez

Predoctoral: Sara Castro Sánchez

Master Student: Marcos Galán Ganga

Student: Darío López García







Ana Martínez (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Gestora del Proyecto:

Nuria Mª Rivas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CIB-CSIC)

C/Ramiro de Maeztu, 9

28006 MADRID







             Proyecto ELA-MADRID.B2017/BMD-3813


 Proyecto financiado por la Comunidad de Madrid y la Unión Europea