Where Ideas Grow

Neuro & Skeletal Circuits


Our main objective is to address the peripheral signalling molecules involved in the neuro-skeletal crosstalk, and to provide therapeutic targets for the treatment of bone loss and joint degenerative diseases.



An important function of the nervous system is to tightly regulate organs and integrate their biology to maintain whole body homeostasis. Several findings emphasized the neuro-skeletal network as a powerful regulator of skeletogenesis and therefore stimulated interest on elucidating the molecular mechanisms essential for this crosstalk.

The research topics addressed in our group are:

  • The role of sensory innervation in the complex orchestration of bone regeneration
    We aim to depict the key mechanisms behind the interplay between sensory innervation, vascularization and osteogenesis, and to identify the paracrine network involved. This will pave the way to the identification of new therapeutic targets for bone regeneration. To reach this goal we employ state-of-the-art microfluidic technologies, tissue engineering and computational algorithms to study the multicellular communication between sensory neurons, endothelial cells and osteoblasts in three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments.
  • The role of the sympathetic nervous system and its neurotransmitters in regulating chronic inflammation in osteoarticular diseases
    Our previous results showed a total uncoupling of local joint inflammation from the sympathetic activity in arthritic patients with sustained chronic inflammation in hip joints. Our goal is to identify the mechanism behind the repletion of sympathetic innervation in arthritic joint as well as the neuro-immune molecules involved in the persistence of chronic inflammation that characterizes this clinical condition.
  • The involvement of the adrenergic signalling in the development of metastatic bone disease in breast cancer
    Our goal is to uncover the involvement of the adrenergic signalling pathway(s) in the development of bone metastases triggered by each breast cancer subtype. For this purpose, a 3D biomodel of bone metastatic niche, to tailor the human in vivo metastatic bone niche, as well as an animal model of bone metastasis are being explored. This will allow us to identify novel therapeutic targets to tackle the progression of metastatic bone disease.


Ongoing Projects

STRESS AND BREAST CANCER METASTASIS TO BONE: the Yin and Yan of the sympathetic adrenergic signaling
Reference: EXPL/BIA-BQM/0255/2021
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 01-JAN-22 to 30-JUN-23
Organ-on-a-chip systems are the animal’s best friends
Reference: ART 3RS Grant 2021 - OoC4Pain
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: Animal Research Tomorrow
From 01-MAR-22 to 31-AUG-23
A game changer for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a cost effective combined advanced therapy to tr
Reference: HORIZON-HLTH-2021-TOOL-06-02 - RIA - GA 101057778
Proponent: Fundacion CIDETEC
Sponsor: CE - Comissão Europeia
From 01-MAY-22 to 31-OCT-26