Preclinical Division

The overall goal of this laboratory is to understand the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying mental illness and drug abuse, and to utilize this information to development new and more effective treatments for these disorders.

One area of research involves studying the consequences of developmental insults on behavior in adulthood. The conceptual framework underlying these studies is that insults (exposure to drugs, stressors, viral or bacterial infections, etc.) during critical developmental periods (prenatal and adolescence) produce long-term and sometimes permanent alterations in neuronal organization and function. These developmental insults might predispose individuals to develop depression or play a critical role in the initiation and maintenance of drug dependence in adulthood.

A second area of research uses viral-mediated gene expression as pharmacologic tools. One project is testing the hypothesis that viral-mediated hyper-expression of glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) can reduce drug self-administration. Another project is using viral-mediated hyper-expression of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) to develop and study a new model of depression. Another set of studies involves comparing and contrasting the effects and mechanisms of action of antidepressants in adults and adolescents.

Representative Publications

Pechnick RN , Bresee CJ, Manalo CM, Poland RE.
Comparison of the effects of desmethylimipramine on behavior in the forced swim test in peripubertal and adult rats. Behav Pharmacol. 2008 Feb;19(1):81-4.

Pechnick RN, Zonis S, Wawrowsky K, Pourmorady J, Chesnokova V.
p21Cip1 restricts neuronal proliferation in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jan 29;105(4):1358-63. Epub 2008 Jan 2.

Liu X, Caggiula AR, Yee SK, Nobuta H, Sved AF, Pechnick RN, Poland RE.
Mecamylamine attenuates cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine-seeking behavior in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Mar;32(3):710-8. Epub 2006 Jun 21.

Pechnick RN, Kariagina A, Hartvig E, Bresee CJ, Poland RE, Chesnokova VM.
Developmental exposure to corticosterone: behavioral changes and differential effects on leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) gene expression in the mouse. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 Mar;185(1):76-83. Epub 2006 Jan 14.