The Laboratory of Neurochemistry and Behavior have been working on the neurobiological basis of psychotropic drugs action and the role of brain neurotransmitter circuits in cognitive symptoms of neuropsychiatric diseases. Recently, the interest of the lab moved to experimental models of Rett syndrome, a severe and rare genetic disorder affecting young girls during the first phases of development. We are committed to clarify the underlying pathogenic mechanisms and identify novel therapeutic strategies.
Rett syndrome: development of therapeutic strategies in mouse models of the pathology
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a rare and severe pathology affecting young girls during neonatal development. In most patients, RTT is caused by heterozygous mutations of the methyl CpG binding protein2 (MECP2) gene, a X-chromosome linked gene. To date, no disease modifying therapies are available for RTT. We are currently developing pharmacological strategies in Mecp2 mutant mice based on the repurposing of already marketed drugs. If successful, the validity of this strategy might be rapidly assessed in patients with RTT. The results obtained show that fluoxetine, a well-known antidepressant drug, improves motor skills in mice lacking the Mecp2 gene.
Psychotropic drugs and neuropsychiatric diseases: role of serotonin
Studies on the role of serotonin in the main neuropsychiatric diseases, psychotropic drugs’ mechanism of action and biological basis of animals’ behavior have characterized our laboratory since the beginning of its activities. Using mice carrying the deletion of the tryptophan hydroxylases2 gene coding for the key enzyme in serotonin biosynthesis, allowed us to demonstrate the inhibitory action of this neurotransmitter on the motor effects of psychostimulants.On-going studies are aimed at clarifying the role of brain serotonin in the control of spontaneous motor activity.
International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.