Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Dept. of Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Trophic factors and neuropeptides in neuronal development, psychiatric disorders and traumatic brain injury
Another major focus of my lab is on the role of neurotrophic factors and neuropeptides in psychiatric disease. Current therapies to treat depression are not very effective so defining novel compounds is essential. We have identified the neuropeptide VGF as playing a critical role in animal models of mood disorders. VGF is upregulated by antidepressants and downregulated in depression paradigms in rodents as well as in human bipolar disorder. VGF has antidepressant-like activity in animal models and is required for the effects of antidepressants. To identify the cellular basis for its actions, we have shown that VGF increases synaptic activity and neurogenesis in the hippocampus and have demonstrated that activation of glutamate receptors is required for the effects of VGF on neurogenesis. By providing evidence for mechanisms underlying depression and the role of the neuropeptide VGF, we have identified a possible novel therapeutic target.