Rodrigo A. Cunha
Associate Professor
Group at CNC

Rodrigo A. Cunha is a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra and Principal Investigator at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra (CNC). He is part of the Steering Committee of the European Neuroscience Campus and the National representative of the Network of European Neuroscience Institutes (ENI-net). He heads the group ‘Purines at CNC’, focusing on caffeine neuroprotection and purinergic modulation; his group is constituted by 5 resident PhD researchers, 8 post-docs and 9 PhD students. He has published over 190 papers with an h factor of 49. He has trained over 25 PhD students and 10 post-doctoral fellows and has received funding from national, european and american sources.



Area of Research: 

Neuromodulation by adenosine and ATP in the nervous system: adenosine and ATP receptors (expression, binding characteristics, coupling to transducing systems, desensitisation), formation and inactivation of ATP and adenosine, physiological roles (control of neurotransmitter release, of ion channels and of synaptic transmission and plasticity) and role in physio-pathology (aging, hypoxia, epilepsy, diabetic neuropathies, stress, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, neuro-inflammation).

Research Summary: 
Selected Publications: 

- Kaster MP, Machado NJ, Silva HB, Nunes A, Ardais AP, Santana M, Baqi Y, Müller CE, Rodrigues ALS, Porciúncula LO, Chen JF, Tomé AR, Agostinho P, Canas PM, Cunha RA (2015) Caffeine acts through neuronal adenosine A2A receptors to prevent mood and memory dysfunction triggered by chronic stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112: 7833-7838.

- Li P, Rial R, Canas PM, Yoo JH, Li W, Zhou X, Wang Y, van Westen GJP, Payen MP, Augusto E, Gonçalves N, Tomé AR, Li Z, Wu Z, Hou X, Zhou Y, IJzerman AP, Boyden ES, Cunha RA, Qu J, Chen JF (2015) Optogenetic activation of intracellular adenosine A2A receptor signaling in hippocampus is sufficient to trigger CREB phosphorylation and impair memory. Mol Psychiatry 20, 1339-49.

- Matos M, Shen HY, Augusto E, Wang Y, Wei CJ, Wang YT, Agostinho P, Boison D, Cunha RA, Chen JF (2015) Deletion of adenosine A2A receptors from astrocytes disrupts glutamate homeostasis leading to psychomotor and cognitive impairment: relevance to schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 78, 763-774.

- Silva, C.G., Métin, C., Fazeli, W., Machado, N.J., Darmopil, S., Launay, P.S., Ghestem, A., Nesa, M.P., Bassot, E., Szabó, E., Baqi, Y., Müller, C.E., Tomé, A.R., Ivanov, A., Isbrandt, D., Zilberter, Y., Cunha, R.A., Esclapez, M., Bernard, C. (2013) Adenosine receptor antagonists including caffeine alter fetal brain development in mice. Science Transl Med 5: 197ra104.

- Rebola N, Lujan R, Cunha RA, Mulle C (2008) Long-term potentiation of NMDA-EPSCs at hippocampal mossy fiber synapses: an essential role for adenosine A2A receptors. Neuron 57, 121-34.

Financiado por Fundos FEDER através do Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade – COMPETE 2020 e por Fundos Nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia no âmbito do projecto Estratégico com referência atribuida pelo COMPETE: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007440

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