Elena Castro Fernández

  • maria.castro@unican.es
  • 942 206 763
  • Neurobiological Basis of the Mechanism of Action of Drugs acting at the Central Nervous System
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Department of Cell & Molecular Signalling

​Elena Castro is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of the University of Cantabria (UC) and a research member of Prof. Pazos group at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) and at the CIBERSAM (Centro de Investigación en Red en Salud Mental- Collaborative Research Network in Mental Health). She obtained a Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1987, and the PhD Degree from the same University in 1994, beginning her research in neuropharmacology (schizophrenia and antipsychotic drugs). In 1994, she was awarded a postdoctoral position (Fundación Botín) in Prof. Pazos research group (UC) to study the properties, location and modulation of serotonin receptors subtypes in the human and rodent brain. In 1997, she carried out a second postdoctoral stay (Spanish Ministry of Science) in Dr. Trevor Sharp's laboratory in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology (Oxford University), continuing her research on the field of antidepressant drugs using microdialysis and in situ hybridization techniques. Back to Spain in, she worked as a Research Associate (Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, UC 1997/2001) in contracts with the pharmaceutical company FAES FARMA S.A in research projects related to the "Evaluation of active molecules on serotonergic and dopaminergic systems". In 2006, she obtained a position as Associate Professor of Pharmacology in the University of Cantabria (Profesor Contratado Doctor) and in 2011 she was promoted to Senior Lecturer (Profesor Titular). Her research lines are related with the implication of different neurotransmission systems in the neurobiology of depression and in the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6750-5519). Regarding her academic profile, she is teaching Pharmacology in the Degree of Medicine and the Degree of Nursery. She is the Interuniversitary Coordinator of the "Master's Degree in Research in Mental Health" (CIBERSAM), and she belongs to the lecturer's staff "Master's Degree in Molecular Biology and Medicine" (UC/UPV).

Neurobiological Basis of the Mechanism of Action of Drugs acting at the Central Nervous System

Research lines 

The main research line of the group deals with the neurochemical and neuroplastic signals involved in the pathogeny of neuropsychiatric diseases (major depression, schizophrenia) and, associated to that,  in the mechanism of action of antidepressant and antipsychotic  drugs. The goals of our neuropharmacological research include the study of: 
  • Modulation of neuroproliferation and neuroplasticity pathways as a mechanism of action of antidepressants.
  • Involvement of the aminergic and cannabinoid systems in depression.
  • Preclinical evaluation of potential antidepressants in animal models.
  • Involvement of neuroinflammation in depression and antidepressant actions.
  • Mechanism of action of molecules with rapid antidepressant effect.

For this purpose, studies in laboratory animals, models of depression and psychosis, and in blood and postmortem samples from depressed and schizophrenic patients are carried out. Behavioural, pharmacological (in vivo assays, receptor labeling), cell biology (immunocytochemistry, neurogenesis), biochemical (second messengers, G proteins), electrophysiological (in vivo and slice recordings) and molecular approaches (gen silencing, transfected receptors) are used.

Other sublines of research of the group include: 
    • The neurobiological basis of the analgesic responses induced by antidepressants
    • The identification of the intracellular signaling mechanisms associated to 5-HT receptor subtypes
    • The analysis of polymorphisms for proteins of relevance for the etiopathogeny of depressive disorders 
    • The characterization of animal models of psychiatric disorders


    • CICYT, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Cannabidiol como acelerador de la respuesta farmacológica antidepresiva: una vía hacia la identificación de los mecanismos celulares implicados en la depresión (SAF2015-67457-R). Enero 2016-Diciembre 2018.
    • CICYT, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Fármacos antidepresivos y dianas de señalización intracelular: implicación de mecanismos de proliferación (SAF07-61862). Octubre 2007-Septiembre 2012
    • Neuroplasticity mechanisms involved in the fast antidepressant response of 5-HT4 receptor agonists: role of the Wnt-b-catenin and mTOR pathways (SAF2011-25020 ). Enero 2012-Diciembre 2014.
    • Instituto de Salud Carlos III. CIBER de Salud Mental, 2009-
    • Programa ZENIT,  Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (con BrainCo y FaesFarma SA).Nuevas aproximaciones en el tratamiento de las enfermedades del sistema nervioso. Enero 2010-Diciembre 2012

Ángel Pazos Carro (IP)

View more

Álvaro Díaz Martínez

View more

Daniel Coca De Pablo

View more

Mª Fuencisla Pilar Cuéllar

View more

Júlia Senserrich Guerrero

View more