Enrico S. Patrono, Ph.D.
Cognitive impairment and executive function are core symptoms of schizophrenia, and cognitive inflexibility is considered an endophenotype of schizophrenia. Dysfunction of parvalbumin-positive (PV+) GABAergic interneurons within the prefrontal cortex (PFC)/ventral hippocampus (vHipp) circuit has implications in schizophrenia pathophysiology. The main goal of this project is development of a new experimental therapeutic strategy by using in vivo optogenetic stimulation (ChR2)/inhibition (NpHR) of PV+ in the PFC or vHipp. To this aim, a new in vivo optogenetic facility core has been established in the Department of Neurophysiology of the Memory, and new behavioral tasks have been implemented to evaluate cognitive flexibility in rodent pharmacological models of schizophrenia.
MUDr. et Mgr. Helena Janíčková, Ph.D.
Striatum is the main input nucleus of the basal ganglia and it is involved in control of various behavioral domains. Striatal microcircuits are strongly influenced by acetylcholine released by striatal cholinergic interneurons. While some mechanisms of cholinergic control in the striatum have been extensively studied, significance of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) expressed by striatal GABAergic interneurons is still largely unknown. The aim of this project is to prepare a mouse model with specific deletion of nAChRs in striatal GABAergic interneurons and to use this model for evaluation of their functional significance. To this aim, we will use Cre/loxP and CRISPR/Cas9 approach, behavioral and biochemical tests.
Mgr. Michal Bencze, Ph.D.
Efferent nervous autonomic control of cardiovascular system is mediated by sympathetic and parasympathetic system. Chronic administration of acetylcholine esterase inhibitors causes lowered degradation of acetylcholine, which affects autonomic cardiovascular control. We studied the effects of chronic 2-week treatment with acetyl-cholinesterase-inhibitor (pyridostigmine). The aim of our study is to evaluate these effects in normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) in which blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were recorded by radiotelemetry. Furthermore, we recorded changes in bood pressure and heart rate during stress response. We also estimated basal cardiac parasympathetic and sympathetic tone changes after the treatment with pyridostigmine. We conclude that chronic stimulation of peripheral cholinergic system by pyridostigmine leads to a significant potentiation of cadiac vagal control.