About Villapol Lab

The Villapol laboratory studies the inflammatory and neurodegenerative mechanisms triggered after brain trauma or stroke in a sex dependent manner. Her laboratory is also investigating the contribution of peripheral signals and the gut microbiome to brain pathology. Her lab pursues novel neurorestorative treatments for brain recovery through the lens of the periphery.


Texas Medical center

Houston, TX

Our lab members

villapol lab


Sonia Villapol noHM.jpg

Sonia Villapol, Ph.D.

About Dr. Sonia Villapol

Dr. Sonia Villapol is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Center for Neuroregeneration, HMRI.

Her scientific research has focused on elucidating the basic mechanisms and processes that occur after different types of brain injuries, including apoptosis, inflammation, neurogenesis or glial activation. Our future research plan is fueled by my motivation of investigating the distinct, intricate aspects of the contribution of peripheral signals and microbiome to brain pathology.


Areas of expertise:

- Cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury

- Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration

- Sex and gender differences in response to brain damage

- Brain-Periphery axis  

- Brain-gut-microbiome axis

- Neuroprotection and Neurorestoration


  • Brain damage: excitotoxicity, cerebral ischemia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, neonatal and adult.

  • Neuroinflammation: microglia activation, astrogliosis, cytokines, oxidative stress, gliosis, sex-differences, trauma, macrophages, cerebral blood flow, cerebral edema, hypertension, vasculature, glial scar, TGFbeta, smad3, NOS

  • Neurodegeneration and neurogenesis: apoptosis, necrosis, neurorestoration, neuronal injury, proliferation, oligodendrocytes, caspase-3, PPARgamma.

  • Neuroprotection and neurorestauration: angiotensin receptor blockers, melatonin, ApoE genotype, sartans, inhaled nitric oxide, candesartan, telmisartan, antisense therapy.

  • Brain-periphery axis: hepatic inflammation, acute phase proteins, serum amyloid A, systemic inflammation, brain-liver axis, brain-gut axis, microbiome, Brain-Speen axis, Brain-Kidney axis.

Publications on these Topics:

stroke / brain Ischemia                             traumatic brain injury

How can we restore the injured brain ?

Research Focus

Our research interests are mainly focused on the elucidating of mechanisms of cell death, gliosis, inflammation, and neurogenesis via models of brain damage (ischemia and trauma), and how inflammatory mediators connect the brain with the periphery.

To date, our research has mainly been dedicated towards the development of novel therapeutics to repair the brain after damage, focusing on endogenous inhibitors of apoptosis, nitric oxide, melatonin or angiotensin II receptor inhibitors and exploiting their protective roles in the brain.

Our passion is the pursuit of novel neurorestorative treatments for debilitating brain injuries and to open the door to alternative systemic therapies that may potentially provide repair and recovery in the damaged brain.

Our overall goal is to identify new treatments to restore the injured brain.

We perform neuroscience research with rodents models of traumatic brain injury and cerebral ischemia.

*”This is a personal Web site, produced on my own time and solely reflecting my personal opinions.  Statements on this site do not represent the views or policy of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated.”