Researh & development



Emerging evidence shows the existence of diverse physical and functional interactions between the immune and nervous systems. The nervous system may regulate the immune response and its potency against viral and bacterial infections and tumour development. Similarly, the immune system appears to be able to regulate some functions of the nervous system including processes involved in behavior, learning and memory. Due to the existence of this bidirectional cross-talk between these two systems, the deregulation of neuro-immune communications could result in immune-related diseases or in neurological/psychiatric associated disorders. The primary aim of our research is to understand the mechanisms operating in neuro-immune communications and thus to determine how stimulation of some pathways in the nervous system may potentiate or inhibit immune responses during infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmunity. We also aim to understand how the activity of specific immunological components may regulate some cognitive tasks or contribute in the physiopathologic scenario of neurodegenerative disorders.

  • Research Head: Rodrigo Pacheco
  • Doctoral students: Zulmary Manjarres, Ornella Chovar, Jacob Mora
  • Research Assistants: Valentina Ugalde, María Alexandra Espinoza
  • Post-doctoral Fellows: José Manuel Jimenez
  • Research Associates: Carolina Prado

  • Hugo González (former PhD Student and post-doctoral fellow 2009-2014)
    Postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, United States of America.
  • Francisco Contreras (former PhD Student and post-doctoral fellow 2010-2017)
    Technical Director at Dolphin Medical, Chile.
  • María Gabriela Colmenares (former post-doc 2017)
    Post-doctoral fellow at Mayo Clinic, United States of America.
  • Pía Vidal (former post-doc 2018-2019)
    Assistant Professor at Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Chile
  • Daniela Elgueta (former PhD Student and post-doctoral fellow 2014-2020)
    Post-doctoral fellow at Universidad Mayor, Chile.
  • Andro Montoya (former PhD Student 2011-2019)
    Professor at Universidad de las Américas, Chile.
  • Francisco Osorio-Barrios (former undergraduated student and MSc Student 2013-2016)
    PhD Student at Max Plank Institute, Germany.
  • Nicole Rivera (former MSc Student 2016-2018)
    Technical assistant at Laboratorio de Química Clínica Especializada Limitada, Chile.
  • Pablo Díaz (Undergraduated Student 2009-2010)
    Scientific advisor at Instituto de salud pública, Chile.
  • Dafne Franz (Undergraduated Student 2010-2012)
    Postdoctoral fellow at University College London, United Kingdom.
  • Glenda Fuentealba (Undergraduated Student 2011-2013)
    Technical assistant at Merken Biotech, Chile
  • Catalina Valeria (Undergraduated Student 2013-2014)
    Obstetrics student at Universidad de Concepción, Chile.
  • Javier Campos (former PhD Student 2016-2021), Intellectual Property Manager at Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana.

National Collaborations:
• Dr. Luis Michea (University of Chile)
• Dr. María Rosa Bono (University of Chile)
• Dr. Jimmy Stehberg (University Andrés Bello)
• Dr. Andrea Soza and Dr. Patricia Burgos (University San Sebastián)
• Dr. Isabel Yuseff (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
• Dr. Margarita Calvo (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
• Dr. Alberto J. Martin (University Mayor)
• Dr. Felipe Court (University Mayor)
• Dr. Alvaro Lladser (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dr. Tomás Pérez-Acle (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dr. Mario Rosemblatt (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)
• Dr. Alejandra Loyola (Fundación Ciencia & Vida)

• Dr. Cristián Amador (Universidad Autónoma de Chile).


International Collaborations:
• Dr Rafael Franco and Dr Gemma Navarro (University of Barcelona)
• Dr. Marco Cosentino (University of Insubria)
• Dr. Pablo Vargas (Institute Curie)


Osorio-Barrios F, Navarro G, Campos J, Ugalde V, Prado C, Raïch I, Contreras F, López E, Espinoza A, Lladser A, Franco R, Pacheco R.The Heteromeric Complex Formed by Dopamine Receptor D 5 and CCR9 Leads the Gut Homing of CD4 + T Cells Upon Inflammation. 12(2):489-506. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2021.04.006. (2021).

Pacheco R., Gallart T., Lluis C. and Franco R. Role of glutamate on T-cell mediated immunity. J. Neuroimmunol. 185 (1-2): 09-19 (2007) | PDF | Abstract

Franco R., Pacheco R., Lluis C., Ahern G. P. and O’Connell P. J. The emergence of neurotransmitters as immune modulators. Trends Immunol. 28 (9): 400-407 (2007) | PDF | Abstract

Herrada A. A., Contreras F. J., Tobar J. A., Pacheco R. and Kalergis A. M. Immune complex-induced enhancement of bacterial antigen presentation requires FcУ Receptor III expression on dendritic cells. PNAS 104 (33): 13402-13407 (2007) | PDF | Abstract

Martinez-Navio J. M., Climent N., Pacheco R., Garcia F., Plana M., Nomdedeu M., Oliva H., Rovira C., Miralles L., Gatell J. M., Gallart T., Mallol J., Lluis C. and Franco R. Immunological Dysfunction in HIV-1-Infected Individuals caused by Impairment of adenosine deaminase-induced costimulation of T-Cell activation. Immunology 128 (3): 393-404 (2009) | PDF | Abstract

Carreño L. J., Pacheco R., Gutierrez M. A., Jacobelli S., Kalergis A. M. Disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with an altered expression of low-affinity Fcᵞ receptors and costimulatory molecules on dendritic cells. Immunology 128 (3): 334-341 (2009) | PDF | Abstract

Pacheco R., Prado C. E., Barrientos M. J., Bernales S. Role of dopamine in the physiology of T-cells and dendritic cells. J. Neuroimmunol. 216 (1-2): 8-19 (2009) | PDF | Abstract

Martinez-Navio J. M., Casanova V., Pacheco R., Naval-Macabuhay I., Climent N., Garcia F., Gatell J. M., Mallol J., Gallart T., Lluis C. and Franco R. Adenosine deaminase potentiates the generation of effector, memory and regulatory CD4+ T-cells. J. Leukoc. Biol. 89 (1): 127-136 (2011) | PDF | Abstract

Prado C., Contreras F., González H., Díaz P., Elgueta D., Barrientos M., Herrada A. A., Lladser À., Bernales S. and Pacheco R. Immunity on Dendritic Cells Potentiates Th17-Mediated Stimulation of Dopamine Receptor D5 Expressed. J. Immunol. 188, 3062-3070 (2012) | PDF

Prado C., Bernales S. and Pacheco R. Modulation of T-cell mediated immunity by dopamine receptor D5. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Target. 13(2):184-194. (2013) | PDF | Abstract

González H., Contreras F., Prado C., Elgueta D., Franz D., Bernales S. and Pacheco R. Dopamine receptor D3 expressed on CD4+ T-cells favours neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons during Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Immunology. 190(10):5048-5056. (2013) | PDF | Abstract

Pacheco R., Contreras F. and Zouali M. The dopaminergic system in autoimmune diseases. Frontiers in Immunology. 5: 117. (2014) | PDF | Abstract

González H., Elgueta D., Montoya A., Pacheco R. Neuroimmune regulation of microglial activity involved in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. J. Neuroimmunol. 274(1-2): 1-13 (2014)

Moraga-Amaro R., González H., Pacheco R., Stehberg J. Dopamine receptor D3 deficiency results in chronic depression and anxiety. Behav. Brain Res. 274(1): 186-193 (2014)

Fernández-Suárez D., Celorrio M., Riezu-Boj J. I., Pacheco R., González H., Hillard C. J., Franco R., Aymerich M. S. Neuroprotective effect of the monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitor JZL184 in a chronic MPTP mouse model. Neurobiol. Aging 35(11): 2603-2616 (2014)

González H., Pacheco R. T-cell mediated regulation of neuroinflammation involved in neurodegenerative diseases. J. Neuroinflammation 11(1): 201 (2014)

Franz D., Contreras F., González H., Prado C., Elgueta D., Figueroa C., Pacheco R. Dopamine receptors D3 and D5 regulate CD4 +T-cell activation and differentiation by modulating ERK activation and cAMP production. J. Neuroimmunol. 284: 18-29 (2015)

González H., Contreras F., Pacheco R. Regulation of the neurodegenerative process associated to Parkinson’s disease by CD4+ T-cells. J. Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 10(4): 561-575 (2015)

Oliva H., Pacheco R., Rodríguez-García M., Naranjo-Gómez M., Climent N., Martínez-Navio J. M., Gil C., Plana M., García F., Miró J. M., Franco R., Borras F., Navaratnam N., Gatell J. M., Gallart T. Increased expression with differential subcellular location of cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G in human CD4+ T-cell activation and dendritic cell maturation. Immunol. Cell Biol. doi: 10.1038/icb.2016.28 (2016)

Moraga-Amaro R., González H., Ugalde V., Donoso-Ramos J. P., Quintana-Donoso D., Lara M., Morales B., Rojas P., Pacheco R., Stehberg J. Dopamine receptor D5 deficiency results in a selective reduction of hippocampal NMDA receptor subunit NR2B expression and impaired memory. Neuropharmacol. 103: 222-235 (2016)

Fernández D., Flores-Santibáñez F., Neira J., Osorio F., Tejón G., Núñez S., Hidalgo Y., Fuenzalida M. J., Meza D., Ureta G., Lladser A., Pacheco R., Acuña-Castillo C., Guixé V., Quintana F. J., Bono M. R., Rosemblatt M., Sauma D. Purinergic signaling as a regulator of Th17 cell plasticity. PloS ONE 11(6): e0157889 (2016)

Contreras F., Prado C., González H., Franz D., Osorio-Barrios F., Osorio F., Ugalde V., Lopez E., Elgueta D., Figueroa A., Lladser A., Pacheco R. Dopamine receptor D3 signaling on CD4+ T cells favors Th1- and Th17-mediated immunity. J. Immunol. 196(10):4143 (2016)

Pacheco R. Targeting dopamine receptor D3 signalling in inflammation. Oncotarget 8(5):7224-7225 (2017)

Figueroa C., Gálvez-Cancino F., Oyarce C., Contreras F., Prado C., Valeria C., Cruz S., Lladser A., Pacheco R. Inhibition of dopamine receptor D3 signaling in dendritic cells increases antigen cross-presentation to CD8+ T-cells favoring anti-tumor immunity. J. Neuroimmunol. 303:99-107 (2017)

Elgueta D., Aymerich M. S., Contreras F., Montoya A., Celorrio M., Rojo-Bustamante E., Riquelme E., González H., Vásquez M., Franco R., Pacheco R. Pharmacologic antagonism of dopamine receptor D3 attenuates neurodegeneration and motor impairment in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Neuropharmacology 113:110-123 (2017)

Doñas C., Carrasco M., Fritz M., Prado C., Tejón G., Osorio-Barrios F., Manríquez V., Pacheco R., Reyes P., Bono M. R., Loyola A., Rosemblatt M. The histone demethylase inhibitor GSK-J4 limits inflammation through the induction of a tolerogenic phenotype on dendritic cells. J. Autoimmun. 75:105-117. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2016.07.011 (2016)

Pardo E., Cárcamo C., Uribe-San Martín R., Ciampi E., Segovia-Miranda F., Curkovic C., Montecino F., Holmes C., Tichauer J. E., Acuña E., Osorio-Barrios F., Castro M., Cortes P., Oyanadel C., Valenzuela D., Pacheco R., Naves R., Soza A., González A. Galectin-8 as an immunosuppressor in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and a target of human early prognostic antibodies in multiple sclerosis. PLoS ONE 12(6):e0177472 (2017)

Hevia D., Araos P., Prado C., Fuentes-Luppichini E,, Rojas M., Alzamora R., Cifuentes-Araneda F., Gonzalez A. A., Amador C. A., Pacheco R., Michea L. Myeloid CD11c+ antigen-presenting cells ablation prevents hypertension in response to angiotensin II plus high-salt diet. Hypertension 71(4):709-718. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10145 (2018)

Prado C., Gaiazzi M., González H., Ugalde V., Figueroa A., Osorio-Barrios F., López E., Lladser A., Rasini E., Marino F., Zaffaroni M., Cosentino M., Pacheco R. Dopaminergic stimulation of myeloid antigen-presenting cells attenuates STAT3-activation favouring the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Front. Immunol. 9:571. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00571(2018)

Prado C., Iruretagoyena M., Burgos P.I., Pacheco R. Tobacco promotes exacerbated inflammatory features in dendritic cells of Chilean rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rev Med Chil. 146(2): 150-159. doi: 10.4067/s0034-98872018000200150 (2018) | PDF

Osorio-Barrios F., Prado C., Contreras F., Pacheco R. Dopamine receptor D5 signalling plays a dual role in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis potentiating Th17-mediated immunity and favouring suppressive activity of regulatory T-cells. Front Cell Neurosci. 12(1): 192. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00192 (2018) | PDF

Pardo-Esté C, Hidalgo A.A., Aguirre C., Briones A.C., Cabezas C.E., Castro-Severyn J., Fuentes J.A., Opazo C.M., Riedel C.A., Otero C., Pacheco R., Valvano M.A., Saavedra C.P. The ArcAB two-component regulatory system promotes resistance to reactive oxygen species and systemic infection by Salmonella Typhimurium. PLoS One. 13(9):e0203497. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203497 (2018) | PDF

Medel B, Costoya C, Fernandez D, Pereda C, Lladser A, Sauma D, Pacheco R, Iwawaki T, Salazar-Onfray F, Osorio F. IRE1α activation in Bone Marrow-Derived Dendritic Cells Modulates Innate Recognition of Melanoma Cells and Favors CD8+ T cell Priming. Front Immunol. 9(1): 3050. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03050 (2019) | PDF

Campos-Acuña J, Elgueta D, Pacheco R. T-cell-driven inflammation as a mediator of the gut-brain axis involved in Parkinson’s disease. Front Immunol. 10(1): 239. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00239 (2019) | PDF

Araos P, Prado C, Lozano M, Figueroa S, Espinoza A, Berger T, Mak TW, Jaisser F, Pacheco R, Michea L, Amador CA. Dendritic cells are crucial for cardiovascular remodeling and modulate Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin (NGAL) expression upon mineralocorticoid receptor activation. J Hypertens. 37(7): 1482-1492. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000002067 (2019) | PDF

Pacheco R. Cross-talk between T-cells and gut-microbiota in neurodegenerative disorders. Neural Regen Res. 14(12):2091-2092. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.262582 (2019) | PDF

Prado C, Ugalde V, González H, Figueroa A, López E, Lladser A, Pacheco R. STAT3 activation in combination with NF-kappaB inhibition induce tolerogenic dendritic cells with high therapeutic potential to attenuate collagen-induced arthritis. J Immunol Res. 1982570. doi: /10.1155/2019/1982570 (2019) | PDF

Comi C, Cosentino M, Pacheco R. Editorial: Peripheral Immunity in Parkinson’s Disease: Emerging Role and Novel Target for Therapeutics. Front Neurol. 10(1): 1080. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.01080 (2019) | PDF

Vidal P., Pacheco R. Targeting the dopaminergic system in autoimmunity. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 15(1): 57-73. doi: 10.1007/s11481-019-09834-5 (2020) | PDF

Vidal P., Pacheco R. The Cross-Talk Between the Dopaminergic and the Immune System Involved in Schizophrenia. Front Pharmacol. 11: 394. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00394 (2020) | PDF

Campos J., Pacheco R.Involvement of Dopaminergic Signaling in the Cross-Talk Between the Renin-Angiotensin System and Inflammation. Semin Immunopathol. 42(6):681-696. doi: 10.1007/s00281-020-00819-8 (2020)

Ugalde V., Contreras F., Prado C., Chovar O., Espinoza A., Pacheco R. Dopaminergic signalling limits suppressive activity and gut homing of regulatory T cells upon intestinal inflammation. Mucosal Immunol. In press. doi: 10.1038/s41385-020-00354-7 (2020)

Other publications


Principal investigator

Rodrigo Pacheco, PhD

+56 2 23672046