Neurobiology and neuropharmacology

Alcohol use disorder

Alcohol addiction is a complex trait and the phenotype related to vulnerability for addiction is based on the interaction of multiple genes and environmental factors. We study neurobiological substrates for individual differences in addiction processes, especially vulnerability for risk consumption of alcohol and alcohol use disorder but also responses to drugs used in treatment of addiction. It is hypothesized that disruption of early developmental processes in transmitter networks, either by rearing factors or drug intake early in life, causes long-term changes in brain function and behaviour that, in turn, affects alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced effects later in life. Experimental modes are used to study long-term effects of early environmental factors. The consequences of early-life drug intake on the brain is examined after alcohol exposure or voluntary drinking. Of special interest is the effects on endogenous opioids but also on other transmitters. We collaborate with Drs E Comasco, L Oreland (Department of Neuroscience) and K Nilsson (Centre for Clinical Research, Västerås) in projects that include investigation of how epigenetic processes are involved in long-term consequences of exposure to various early-life environmental factors.

Neuropharmacology

Neurosteroids are endogenous modulators of neuronal functions responsible for many biological and pathophysiological effects. Plausible links between neurosteroids and neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer´s disease, are suggested. We are investigating the role of neurosteroids for neurogenesis and interactive processes ongoing in Alzheimer’s disease. Since Alzheimer´s disease is associated with excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, the research line emphasis on neuroprotective properties of neurosteroids against different toxic insults in in vitro cell models.