Research introduction

Our research, which ranges from molecular biology and cell biology to human psychopathology, has focused on the effects of glucocorticoid hormones. These adrenal corticosteroid hormones support homeostasis and health by their actions in many organs, including the brain.

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Research themes

Hormones & Brain Function (overview)

Research question
A fundamental question in our work is why some individuals suffer from stress-related brain disorders, while others are protected and maintain excellent mental health under similar (adverse) conditions.

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Animal Models

Gene x environment interactions determine individual resilience and vulnerability to disease. For example, we showed in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, that the extent of maternal care received by rat pups during infancy may prepare them for their future living environment.

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Imaging of Neuronal Morphology and Network formation

We made the observation that siRNA mediated knockdown of glucocorticoid receptors in the hippocampus specifically affects newborn neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and the maturation of neuronal networks.

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Advanced (epi)genomics

Novel drug targets potentially involved in vulnerability and resilience to disease are being identified by combining animal models for disease with expression profiling analysis in brain nuclei obtained by laser microdissection (LMD).

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Mechanisms of glucocorticoid signaling

Three recent publications illustrate our significant contributions to understanding the mechanisms of glucocorticoid signaling in the brain: Lachize et al published in PNAS (2009) that the coregulator protein SRC-1 is involved in specific stress-related effects of glucocorticoids in the brain.

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Genetic variants and resilience to psychopathology

We screened human subjects for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs) in the MR-gene and identified several new SNPs. Following the genotyping of several hundreds of human subjects we constructed haplotypes of the MR-gene.

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