Vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT) have a variety of physiological effects on the nervous system. Several of these central effects result in modulation of processes that underlie memory functions. VP is considered as a memory-enhancing agent, while OT can inhibit memory processes. In the brain the Vla and OT receptors have been demonstrated and thought to be responsible for the central effects of VP and OT and their analogs. However, two lines of observations prompt to revision of this assumption, and urge molecular studies on the expression, regulation and function of the VP and OT receptors in the brain.
Firstly, endogenous metabolites of VP and OT have very potent effects on the brain involving a distinct receptor of unknown identity. Secondly, the abundant expression of the Vlb receptor in the rodent has been a surprise in the field. These finding have major implications for the development and application of analogs of VP and OT of therapeutic purposes concerning brain functions. At present time, the host laboratory is cloning and characterizating the VP and OT metabolite receptors. Consequently, the objectives of this project are:
1.- Expression and regulation of VP/OT receptors in the rodent brain, specially the Vlb and the metabolites receptors.
2.- Expression of VP/OT receptors in the human brain, in relation to pathology (e.g: memory disturbed in Alzheimer patients).
3.- If time is available, the applicant will colaborate in the characterization of the VP metabolite receptor.