Federico Nicolás Soria
Juan de la Cierva Fellow
Faculty of Medicine and Nursery, Department of Neuroscience
Barrio Sarriena, s/n
The brain extracellular microenvironment is the active compartment that surrounds every cell in the central nervous system (CNS). It is composed by a dynamic reservoir, the extracellular space, which contains both the interstitial fluid and a plastic scaffold known as the extracellular matrix (ECM). Unlike the ECM from connective tissue, where collagen is the main unit, the neural interstitial matrix consists mainly of long chains of the glycan polymer hyaluronan. ECM proteoglycans bind to hyaluronan forming a self-assembled matrix that functions as diffusion barrier and cell-attaching framework. Interestingly, hyaluronan has also manifold signalling properties, acting as a pro or anti-inflammatory molecule depending on its molecular weight.
Despite our extensive knowledge on the role of the ECM in systemic diseases such as cancer or fibrosis, its role on the aetiology of brain disorders is poorly known. My research attempts to understand the interplay between the ECM and glial cells, in animal models of aging and CNS pathology. I mostly employ fluorescence microscopy techniques in live and fixed brain tissue, including two-photon live cell imaging, super-resolution STED microscopy and confocal microscopy coupled to extensive image analysis. These techniques are complemented by other analytical tools in in vivo, ex vivo or in vitro paradigms, where we can modify the matrix and/or neuroinflammation experimentally.
The ulterior goal of my research is to understand the matrix-glia interplay and explore the therapeutic potential of this duo in neurological and neurodegenerative diseases..