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Molecular Medicine Programme | Neurosciences

Brain Plasticity (BPLab)

Alba Vieites Prado
Group Leader | Ramón y Cajal Researcher
Lab: P2L4
Field of knowledge

Brain Plasticity is the general term to refer to the dynamic capabilities of the brain. It involves functional and structural readjustments in neuronal circuits to adapt brain function to the vital needs of the individual. 
In the laboratory, we aim to understand the nature of brain plasticity in the adulthood, and how is it regulated by internal and external stimuli, such as sensory input or physiological states. Our methodology involves the use of 3D histology to map functional and structural changes at whole-brain scale (iDISCO+ tissue clearing, 3D light-sheet microscopy, bioinformatic tools for image analysis), in combination with animal behavior, in vivo recordings (fiber photometry) and molecular biology techniques. 

Research Lines

  • Structural plasticity in long-range projecting neurons in the adult:
    Structural plasticity involves mechanisms of micro-structural reorganization at the synaptic level, short-range structural changes in the somatodendritic compartment, and long-range axonal remodeling. While all these processes have been largely studied during development, much less is known about their nature in the adult age, especially regarding the long-range axonal remodeling. Plastic events in the adult are sparse and take place in broader temporal and spatial scales than those happening during development, making very challenging their study.
    Using the somatosensory system as a model, techniques for unbiased mapping of axonal densities at whole-brain scale, and viral tracers, we are studying the effects of permanent changes to the sensory experience in brain-wide connectivity.


Selected publications

Bacterial sensing via neuronal NOD2 regulates appetite and body temperature.

Ilana Gabanyi, Gabriel Lepousez, Richard Wheele, Alba Vieites-Prado, Antoine Nissant, Sébastien Wagner, Carine Moigneu, Sophie Dulauroy, Samia Hicham, Bernadette Polomack, Florine Verny, Philip Rosenstiel, Nicolas Renier, Ivo Gomperts Boneca, Gérard Eberl, Pierre-Marie Lledo, Grégoire Chevalier

Tissue clearing and 3D imaging in developmental biology.

Vieites-Prado A, Renier N

Neuroinvasion of SARS-COV-2 in human and mouse brain.

Eric Song, Ce Zhang, Benjamin Israelow, Alice Lu-Culligan, Alba Vieites Prado, Sophie Skriabine, Peiwen Lu, Orr-El Weizman, Feimei Liu, Yile Dai, Klara Szigeti-Buck, Yuki Yasumoto, Guilin Wang, Christopher Castaldi, Jaime Heltke, Evelyn Ng, John Wheeler, Mia Madel Alfajaro, Etienne Levavasseur, Benjamin Fontes, Neal G Ravindra, David Van Dijk, Shrikant Mane, Murat Gunel, Aaron Ring, Syed A Jaffar Kazmi, Kai Zhang, Craig B Wilen, Tamas L Horvath, Isabelle Plu, Stephane Haik, Jean-Leon Thomas, Angeliki Louvi, Shelli F Farhadian, Anita Huttner, Danielle Seilhean, Nicolas Renier, Kaya Bilguvar, Akiko Iwasaki

Mapping the Fine-Scale organization and plasticity of the brain vasculature.

Christoph Kirst, Sophie Skriabine, Alba Vieites-Prado, Thomas Topilko, Paul Bertin, Gaspard Gerschenfeld, Florine Verny, Piotr Topilko, Nicolas Michalski, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Nicolas Renier

Cold Stress Protein RBM3 responds to hypothermia and is associated with good stroke outcome.

Paulo Ávila-Gómez, Alba Vieites-Prado, Antonio Dopico-López, Saima Bashir, Héctor Fernández-Susavila, Carme Gubern, María Pérez-Mato, Clara Correa-Paz, Ramón Iglesias-Rey, Tomás Sobrino, Alejandro Bustamante, Sven Wellmann, Joan Montaner, Joaquín Serena, José Castillo, Pablo Hervella, Francisco Campos

Protective effects and magnetic resonance imaging temperature mapping of systemic and focal hypothermia in cerebral ischemia.

Alba Vieites-Prado, Ramón Iglesias-Rey, Héctor Fernández-Susavila, Andrés da Silva-Candal, Emilio Rodríguez-Castro, Olli H J Gröhn, Sven Wellmann, Tomás Sobrino, José Castillo, Francisco Campos

Selected Results

Figure 1. Overview of TubeMap and topological changes in the vascular network of congenitally deaf mice. TubeMap is a pipeline for 3D labeling, imaging, reconstruction, segmentation and analysis of whole-brain microvascular topology. (A) Labeling strategy consistent in an antibody cocktail for continuous capillary wall staining (B) Schematics of the basic concept underlying non-rigid stitching in WobblyStitcher for precise multi-tile image reconstruction (C) 3D view of raw microscopy image after stitching (D) Image segmentation and graph construction with TubeMap (E) Slice view of the final vasculature graph annotated to the Allen Brain reference atlas. (F) Use of TubeMap to analyze structural changes in the vascular network of sensory deprived mice. Congenitally deaf mice (Otoferlin-/- show reduced vascular density in the relays of the auditory pathway. (images adapted from Kirst*, Skriabine*, Vieites-Prado* et al. Cell, 2020).


Figure 2. TubeMap adaptation for whole-brain scale axonal segmentation. (A) Raw light-sheet image of an adult mouse brain injected with anterograde and retrograde viral tracers in the barrel field. (B) Long-range axons are segmented using the TubeMap binarization toolbox, skeletonalization and converted into a graph (C) that is aligned to a reference atlas. (D) Raw light-sheet image of pNFH staining in an adult mouse brain. Unbiased analysis of whole-brain axon distribution is achieved by segmenting filamentous structures across the sample using the Hessian module of TubeMap image preprocessing toolbox (E). The binary image is converted into an array, aligned and plotted as axon density maps.


National project(s)

Ayudas para contratos Ramón y Cajal (RYC)
REF: RYC2021‐033623‐IDuration: -
PI: Alba Vieites Prado