Research objectives and content
As mesolimbic dopamine neurons may be involved in the pathophysiology of depression and may be a substrate for the therapeutic actions of antidepressant drugs, the proposed study aims at elucidating the role of dopamine in psychosocial stress-induced behavior and in antidepressant action. A new and valid animal model to study this behavior is the subordinate tree shrew. We will investigate whether chronic psychosocial stress induces alterations in density and affinity of dopamine receptors in the tree shrew brain and whether these changes are correlated with changes in locomotor activity. Furthermore, we will approach the question whether antidepressant treatment affects dopamine receptor properties in tree shrews under chronic psychosocial stress.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
In general, the applicant will gain experience in stress biology research. More specific, the applicant will be trained in receptor binding techniques, which are important tools in contemporary anatomy and pharmacology. Furthermore, experience will be gained in behavioral studies and skills acquired in biochemical assays like RIA and HPLC. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
This study could provide indirect evidence for a role of dopamine receptors in the pathogenesis of depression and therefore lead to new targets for antidepressant treatment.