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Author: Marco A Riva (77)


Dec
1969

Huntington disease (HD) is a devastating inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms without any cure to slow down or stop the progress of the disease. The BACHD rat model for HD carrying the human full-length mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) with 97 polyQ repeats has been recently established as a promising model which reproduces several HD-like features. While motor and cognitive functions have been characterized in BACHD rats, little is known about their social phenotype.

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Jan
2018

To date, gene-environment (GxE) interaction studies in depression have been limited to hypothesis-based candidate genes, since genome-wide (GWAS)-based GxE interaction studies would require enormous datasets with genetics, environmental, and clinical variables. We used a novel, cross-species and cross-tissues "omics" approach to identify genes predicting depression in response to stress in GxE interactions. We integrated the transcriptome and miRNome profiles from the hippocampus of adult rats exposed to prenatal stress (PNS) with transcriptome data obtained from blood mRNA of adult humans exposed to early life trauma, using a stringent statistical analyses pathway.

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Jan
2018

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that drugs targeting the glutamate system may represent a valuable therapeutic alternative in major depressive disorders (MDD). The rapid and prolonged mood elevating effect of the NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist ketamine has been studied intensely. However, its clinical use is hampered by deleterious side-effects, such as psychosis.

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Dec
1969

Prenatal stress (PNS) might affect the developmental programming of adult chronic diseases such as metabolic and mood disorders. The molecular mechanisms underlying such regulations may rely upon long-term changes in stress-responsive effectors such as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that can affect neuronal plasticity underlying mood disorders and may also play a role in metabolic regulation. Based upon previous data, we hypothesized that PNS might lead to greater vulnerability to an obesogenic challenge experienced at adulthood.

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Jul
2017

At molecular levels, it has been shown that aging is associated with alterations in neuroplastic mechanisms. In this study, it was examined if the altered expression of neurotrophins observed in aged rats could be corrected by a chronic treatment with S 47445 (1-3-10mg/kg, p.o.

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Apr
2017

Depression, a major cause of disability worldwide, is characterized by a complex and heterogeneous symptomatology. With this respect, cognitive deterioration represents a major problem that has a strong impact on a patient's function. Thus, within the context of a depressive phenotype, it is important to characterize the mechanisms that sustain cognitive dysfunctions and may represent an important target for pharmacological intervention.

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Jun
2017

Prenatal exposure to maternal infection increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia and autism. The molecular processes underlying this pathological association, however, are only partially understood. Here, we combined unbiased genome-wide transcriptional profiling with follow-up epigenetic analyses and structural magnetic resonance imaging to explore convergent molecular and neuromorphological alterations in corticostriatal areas of adult offspring exposed to prenatal immune activation.

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Feb
2017

Prenatal exposure to infectious or inflammatory insults increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. Using a well-established mouse model of prenatal viral-like immune activation, we examined whether this pathological association involves genome-wide DNA methylation differences at single nucleotide resolution.
Prenatal immune activation was induced by maternal treatment with the viral mimetic polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid in middle or late gestation.

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Dec
1969

Few studies have addressed likely gene × gene (ie, epistatic) interactions in mediating risk for schizophrenia. Using a preclinical genetic approach, we investigated whether simultaneous disruption of the risk factors Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) and Disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) would produce a disease-relevant phenotypic profile different from that observed following disruption to either gene alone. NRG1 heterozygotes exhibited hyperactivity and disruption to prepulse inhibition, both reversed by antipsychotic treatment, and accompanied by reduced striatal dopamine D2 receptor protein expression, impaired social cognition, and altered glutamatergic synaptic protein expression in selected brain areas.

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Feb
2018

The evidence underlying the so-called glutamatergic hypothesis ranges from NMDA receptor hypofunction to an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory circuits in specific brain structures. Among all glutamatergic system components, metabotropic receptors play a main role in regulating neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity. Here, we investigated, using qRT-PCR and western blot, consequences in the hippocampus and prefrontal/frontal cortex (PFC/FC) of mice with a genetic deletion of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5), addressing key components of the GABAergic and glutamatergic systems.

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Dec
1969

Cocaine exposure alters brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the brain. BDNF signaling through TrkB receptors differentially modulates cocaine self-administration, depending on the brain regions involved. In the present study, we determined how brain-wide inhibition of TrkB signaling affects cocaine intake, the motivation for the drug, and reinstatement of drug taking after extinction.

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Oct
2016

In recent years, the concept of 'synaptopathy' has been extended from neurodegenerative and neurological disorders to psychiatric diseases. According to this nascent line of research, disruption in synaptic structure and function acts as the main determinant of mental illness. Therefore, molecular systems and processes crucial for synaptic activity may represent promising therapeutic targets.

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Dec
1969

Owing to the unique opportunity to assess individuals before and after they develop depression within a short timeframe, interferon-α (IFN-α) treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an ideal model to identify molecular mechanisms relevant to major depression, especially in the context of enhanced inflammation. Fifty-eight patients were assessed prospectively, at baseline and monthly over 24 weeks of IFN-α treatment. New-onset cases of depression were determined using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI).

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Dec
1969

Epigenetic mechanisms can mediate gene-environment interactions relevant for complex disorders. The BDNF gene is crucial for development and brain plasticity, is sensitive to environmental stressors, such as hypoxia, and harbors the functional SNP rs6265 (Val(66)Met), which creates or abolishes a CpG dinucleotide for DNA methylation. We found that methylation at the BDNF rs6265 Val allele in peripheral blood of healthy subjects is associated with hypoxia-related early life events (hOCs) and intermediate phenotypes for schizophrenia in a distinctive manner, depending on rs6265 genotype: in ValVal individuals increased methylation is associated with exposure to hOCs and impaired working memory (WM) accuracy, while the opposite is true for ValMet subjects.

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Feb
2016

Disruptions of biological rhythms are known to be associated with depressive disorders, suggesting that abnormalities in the molecular clock may contribute to the development of these disorders. These mechanisms have been extensively characterized in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, but little is know about the role exerted by individual clock genes in brain structures that are important for depressive disorders. Using the chronic mild stress model we found a significant reduction of BMAL1 and CLOCK protein levels in the nuclear compartment of the prefrontal cortex of CMS rats, which was paralleled by a down-regulation of the expression of several target genes, including Pers and Crys but also Reverbβ and Pparα.

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Nov
2015

Prenatal exposure to infection and/or inflammation is increasingly recognized to play an important role in neurodevelopmental brain disorders. It has recently been postulated that prenatal immune activation, especially when occurring during late gestational stages, may also induce pathological brain aging via sustained effects on systemic and central inflammation. Here, we tested this hypothesis using an established mouse model of exposure to viral-like immune activation in late pregnancy.

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Jan
2016

Major depression is a complex disease that originates from the interaction between a genetic background of susceptibility and environmental factors such as stress. At molecular level, it is characterized by dysfunctions of multiple systems including neurotransmitters, hormones, signalling pathways, neurotrophic and neuroplastic molecules and - more recently - inflammatory mediators. Accordingly, in the present study we used the chronic mild stress (CMS) paradigm in the rat to elucidate to what extent brain inflammation may contribute to the development and/or the maintenance of an anhedonic phenotype and how pharmacological intervention may interfere with such behavioral and molecular stress-induced alterations.

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Dec
1969

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a multifactorial and polygenic disorder, where multiple and partially overlapping sets of susceptibility genes interact each other and with the environment, predisposing individuals to the development of the illness. Thus, MDD results from a complex interplay of vulnerability genes and environmental factors that act cumulatively throughout individual's lifetime. Among these environmental factors, stressful life experiences, especially those occurring early in life, have been suggested to exert a crucial impact on brain development, leading to permanent functional changes that may contribute to lifelong risk for mental health outcomes.

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Jan
2015

Impaired γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signaling may contribute to the emergence of cognitive deficits and subcortical dopaminergic hyperactivity in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. Against this background, it has been proposed that pharmacological interventions targeting GABAergic dysfunctions may prove useful in correcting such cognitive impairments and dopaminergic imbalances.
Here, we explored possible beneficial effects of the benzodiazepine-positive allosteric modulator SH-053-2'F-S-CH₃, with partial selectivity at the α2, α3, and α5 subunits of the GABAA receptor in an immune-mediated neurodevelopmental disruption model.

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Dec
1969

Cytokines are key regulatory mediators involved in the host response to immunological challenges, but also play a critical role in the communication between the immune and the central nervous system. For this, their expression in both systems is under a tight regulatory control. However, pathological conditions may lead to an overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines that may have a detrimental impact on central nervous system.

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Oct
2014

Major depression is associated with several alterations, including reduced neuronal plasticity and impaired synaptic function, which represent an important target of pharmacological intervention.
In the present study, we have investigated the ability of the antipsychotic drug lurasidone to modulate behavioral and neuroplastic alterations in the chronic mild stress model of depression.
Rats that show reduced sucrose consumption after 2 weeks of chronic mild stress have reduced expression of the pool of Bdnf transcripts with the long 3' untranslated region (3'-UTR) that may be targeted to the synaptic compartment, suggesting the contribution of the neurotrophin to the behavioral dysfunction produced by chronic mild stress.

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Dec
1969

The cyclic AMP (cAMP)-response element binding protein (CREB) is an activity-dependent transcription factor playing a role in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, and emotional behavior. However, the impact of Creb ablation on rodent behavior is vague as e.g.

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Dec
1969

The short allelic variant of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) promoter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) has been associated with the etiology of major depression by interaction with early life stress (ELS). A frequently observed endophenotype in depression is the abnormal regulation of levels of stress hormones such as glucocorticoids. It is hypothesized that altered central glucocorticoid influence on stress-related behavior and memory processes could underlie the depressogenic interaction of 5-HTTLPR and ELS.

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Nov
2014

Carrying out invasive procedures in animals requires the administration of anesthesia. Xenon gas offers advantages as an anesthetic agent compared with other agents, such as its protection of the brain and heart from hypoxia-induced damage. The high cost of xenon gas has limited its use as an anesthetic in animal experiments, however.

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Jan
2015

Although the causes of psychiatric disorders are not fully understood, it is well established that mental illness originates from the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. In this regard, compelling evidence demonstrates that depression can be the consequence of altered, and often maladaptive, response to adversities during pre- and early post-natal life. In this study, we investigated the impact of chronic maternal separation (MS) on the expression of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in serotonin transporter (SERT) knockout rats in the ventral and dorsal hippocampus as well as the ventromedial and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (PFC).

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Dec
1969

The abilities to either flexibly adjust behavior according to changing demands (cognitive flexibility) or to maintain it in the face of potential distractors (cognitive stability) are critical for adaptive behavior in many situations. Recently, a novel human paradigm has found individual differences of cognitive flexibility and stability to be related to common prefrontal networks. The aims of the present study were, first, to translate this paradigm from humans to mice and, second, to test conceptual predictions of a computational model of prefrontal working memory mechanisms, the Dual State Theory, which assumes an antagonistic relation between cognitive flexibility and stability.

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Oct
2014

Different environmental factors acting during sensitive prenatal periods can have a negative impact on neurodevelopment and predispose the individual to the development of various psychiatric conditions that often share cognitive impairments as a common component. As cognitive symptoms remain one of the most challenging and resistant aspects of mental illness to be treated pharmacologically, it is important to investigate the mechanisms underlying such cognitive deficits, with particular focus on the impact of early life adverse events that predispose the individual to mental disorders. Multiple clinical studies have, in fact, repeatedly confirmed that prenatal maternal factors, such as infection, stress or malnutrition, are pivotal in shaping behavioral and cognitive functions of the offspring, and in the past decade many preclinical studies have investigated this hypothesis.

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Jun
2014

Serotonin (5-HT) and brain-derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF) are known to modulate behavioral responses to stress and to mediate the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressant agents through neuroplastic and epigenetic mechanisms. While the two systems interact at several levels, this scenario is complicated by a number of variants including brain region specificity, 5-HT receptor selectivity and timing. Based on recent insights obtained using 5-HT transporter (5-HTT) knockout rats we here set-out and discuss the crucial role of neurodevelopmental mechanisms and the contribution of transcription factors and epigenetic modifications to this interaction and its variants.

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Apr
2014

Lurasidone is a novel second generation antipsychotic drug characterized by a multi-receptor profile. Besides the high affinity for 5-HT2A and D2 receptors, it is also characterized by potent 5-HT7 receptor antagonism, which may be beneficial for mood and cognition. Considering that dose-dependent changes in receptor occupancy may differentially impact gene transcription, we aimed at investigating the effects of acute and chronic treatments with different doses of lurasidone (1, 3 and 10mg/kg) in rats on the expression of the activity-regulated genes Arc, Zif268 and Npas4, which are markers of neuronal activation and are also associated with neuroadaptive mechanisms.

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Apr
2014

Although evidence exists that chronic cocaine exposure during adulthood is associated with changes in BDNF expression, whether and how cocaine exposure during adolescence modulates BDNF is still unknown. To address this issue, we exposed rats to repeated cocaine injections from post-natal day (PD) 28 to PD 42, a period that roughly approximates adolescence in humans, and we carried out a detailed analysis of the BDNF system in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of rats sacrificed 3 d (PD 45) and 48 d (PD 90) after the last cocaine treatment. We found that developmental exposure to cocaine altered transcriptional and translational mechanisms governing neurotrophin expression.

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Apr
2014

Adolescence is characterized by important molecular and anatomical changes with relevance for the maturation of brain circuitry and cognitive function. This time period is of critical importance in the emergence of several neuropsychiatric disorders accompanied by cognitive impairment, such as affective disorders and schizophrenia. The molecular mechanisms underlying these changes at neuronal level during this specific developmental stage remains however poorly understood.

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Feb
2014

Despite the rapid control of schizophrenic symptoms is due to the ability of antipsychotic drugs (APDs) to block D2 receptors in the mesolimbic pathway, it is now well-established that the therapeutic effects rely on adaptive mechanisms set in motion by their long-term administration. Such neuroplastic mechanisms depend on the pharmacological profile of the drug employed, with marked differences existing between first and second generation APDs. On these bases, the major accomplishment of this work was to investigate neuroadaptive changes set in motion by repeated treatment with aripiprazole, a novel APD that is unique for being a partial agonist at dopamine D2 receptors.

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Jan
2014

We investigated how nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor modulates muscarinic receptor expression in epileptic rats. We found that subchronic treatment (4 days) with Nω-nitro-l-arginine reduced the down-regulation of muscarinic receptors induced by pilocarpine and kainic acid in rat fronto-parietal cortex, notwithstanding the dramatic potentiation of seizures induced by both convulsants. Furthermore, functional experiments in fronto-parietal cortex slices, showed that Nω-nitro-l-arginine reduces the down-regulating effect of pilocarpine on carbachol-induced phosphoinositol hydrolysis.

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Sep
2013

Growing evidence suggests that alterations of the inflammatory/immune system contribute to the pathogenesis of depression. Indeed, depressed patients exhibit increased levels of inflammatory markers in both the periphery and the brain, and high comorbidity exists between major depression and diseases associated with inflammatory alterations. In order to characterize the link between depression and inflammation, we aimed to investigate whether an altered inflammatory system is present in a genetic model of vulnerability for depression, namely rats with partial or total deletion of the serotonin transporter (SERT) gene.

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Oct
2013

Although preconceptional and periconceptional maternal stress is a recognized risk factor for offspring neurodevelopmental disturbances, less is known about the relevance of paternal exposures. These have hitherto been investigated mainly with respect to substance-induced impairment in the progeny. In recent years, experiential influences on offspring have come into focus through growing insight into epigenetic mechanisms such as nongenetic modes of transmission.

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Oct
2013

Prenatal maternal infection is an environmental risk factor for neurodevelopmental psychiatric illness and disease-associated cognitive impairments. Modeling this epidemiological link in animals shows that prenatal immune challenge is capable of inducing long-lasting deficits in numerous cognitive domains. Here, we combined a neonatal cross-fostering design with a mouse model of prenatal immune challenge induced by maternal gestational treatment with the viral mimetic poly(I:C) to dissect the relative contribution of prenatal and postnatal maternal effects on the offspring.

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Dec
2013

Aging is a physiological process characterized by a significant reduction of neuronal plasticity that might contribute to the functional defects observed in old subjects. Even if the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to such impairment remain largely unknown, a role for neurotrophic molecules, such as the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), has been postulated. On this basis, the purpose of this study was to provide a detailed investigation of the BDNF system, at transcriptional and translational levels, in the ventral and dorsal hippocampus and in the prefrontal cortex of middle-aged and old rats, compared with in adult animals.

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Oct
2013

Lurasidone is a novel antipsychotic drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults. It is formulated into tablets, administered orally once/day (dose range 40-160 mg/day) does not require titration, but needs to be given with food to maximize its plasma exposure.
This review focuses on the preclinical discovery of lurasidone.

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Sep
2013

The incidence of major depression is known to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. In the current study, we therefore set out to investigate depressive-like behavior and its modification by environmental enrichment using rats bred for 'learned helplessness'. 45 males of congenitally helpless (cLH, n=22) and non-helpless (cNLH, n=23) rats of two different generations were used to systematically investigate differential effects of environmental enrichment on learned helpless behavior, anhedonic-like behavior (sweetened condensed milk consumption) and spontaneous behavior in the home cage.

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Oct
2013

Gene expression changes are well documented in depression and schizophrenia and might contribute to the pathologic phenotype associated with these disorders. On this basis, the investigation of transcriptional changes is extensively employed at the preclinical level in order to identify and characterize genes causally related to a pathologic condition. Key information can be achieved with respect to functional alterations in selected brain structures and to anatomical networks and systems that are altered in mental disorders.

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May
2013

Stress and glucocorticoid hormones regulate hippocampal neurogenesis, but the molecular mechanisms mediating these effects are poorly understood. Here we identify the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) target gene, serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1), as one such mechanism. Using a human hippocampal progenitor cell line, we found that a small molecule inhibitor for SGK1, GSK650394, counteracted the cortisol-induced reduction in neurogenesis.

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Nov
2013

Growing evidence suggests that the activation of the inflammatory/immune system contributes to depression pathogenesis, a hypothesis that might hold strong clinical implication. Indeed more than 30% of depressed patients fail to achieve remission, which poses the necessity to identify systems that may represent novel targets for medications. Accordingly, goal of this study was to evaluate the ability of the antidepressant agomelatine to modulate specific components of the immune response in the rat brain following an inflammatory challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS).

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Aug
2013

It is well established that alterations of the serotoninergic system may contribute to the pathophysiology of mood disorders. Accordingly, it has been demonstrated that genetic deletion of the serotonin transporter (SERT) in rodents leads to an anxious and depressive phenotype, which is also associated with reduced neuronal plasticity. Indeed, we have demonstrated that adult SERT(-/-) animals show decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression, as well as reduced levels of transcription factor regulating the neurotrophin transcription.

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Mar
2013

Prenatal infection and exposure to traumatizing experiences during peripuberty have each been associated with increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. Evidence is lacking for the cumulative impact of such prenatal and postnatal environmental challenges on brain functions and vulnerability to psychiatric disease. Here, we show in a translational mouse model that combined exposure to prenatal immune challenge and peripubertal stress induces synergistic pathological effects on adult behavioral functions and neurochemistry.

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Mar
2014

Neuronal dysfunctions in the cortical GABAergic system have been widely documented in neuropsychiatric disorders with prenatal infectious etiologies, including schizophrenia. At least some of these abnormalities may stem from transcriptional impairments in the GABAergic transcriptome. However, the extent to which prenatal exposure to immune challenge can induce long-term alterations in GABAergic gene transcription remains largely elusive.

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Apr
2013

Stress and glucocorticoid hormones regulate hippocampal neurogenesis, but the molecular mechanisms underlying their effects are unknown. We, therefore, investigated the molecular signaling pathways mediating the effects of cortisol on proliferation, neuronal differentiation, and astrogliogenesis, in an immortalized human hippocampal progenitor cell line. In addition, we examined the molecular signaling pathways activated in the hippocampus of prenatally stressed rats, characterized by persistently elevated glucocorticoid levels in adulthood.

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Mar
2013

Major depression is thought to originate from the interaction between susceptibility genes and adverse environmental events, in particular stress. The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the major system involved in stress response and its dysregulation is an important element in the pathogenesis of depression. The stress response is therefore finely tuned through a series of mechanisms that control the trafficking of glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) to the nucleus, including binding to the chaperone protein FKBP5 and receptor phosphorylation, suggesting that these elements may also be affected under pathologic conditions.

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Jul
2013

Second-generation antipsychotics (SGA) are multi-target agents widely used for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that also hold potential for the treatment of impaired emotional control, thanks to their diverse receptor profiles as well as their potential in modulating neuroadaptive changes in key brain regions. The aim of this study was thus to establish the ability of lurasidone, a novel SGA characterized by a multi-receptor signature, to modulate behavioural and molecular defects associated with a genetic model of impaired emotional control, namely serotonin transporter knockout (SERT KO) rats. At behavioural level, we found that chronic lurasidone treatment significantly increased fear extinction in SERT KO rats, but not in wild-type control animals.

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May
2013

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) dynamic changes were investigated in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) during use and the early phases of cocaine abstinence after 14 sessions (2 h self-administration/d; 0.25 mg/0.1 ml.

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Feb
2013

Repeated administration of the indirect dopamine receptor agonist amphetamine (AMPH) produces robust locomotor sensitization and additional behavioral abnormalities. Accumulating evidence suggests that the developmental timing of drug exposure can critically influence this effect. The present study compared the consequences of withdrawal from repeated AMPH exposure in adolescence and adulthood on information processing and locomotor sensitization in C57BL/6 mice.

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