Université de Genève

Neuroscience center

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Group leader: Christian Luscher

Group name: Addiction and Dopamine System

Affiliation: Medical Sciences

Research activities:

Our lab is interested in cellular mechanisms that underlie drug reinforcement, dependence and addiction. We believe that the core of these diseases can be understood as neuroadaptive changes and pathological synaptic plasticity, which are initiated by the effects of addictive drugs on the mesolimbic dopamine system. We look at its origin, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), where we use electrophysiology (whole cell patch clamp) and imaging in acute slices of mice in combination with pharmacological, genetic and behavioral tools. Two lines of experiments are carried out in parallel: first, we characterize the role of Kir3/GIRK channels that are effectors of G protein coupled receptors (and therefore effectors of opioids, cannabinoids and g-hydoxybutyrate). Second, we test how addictive drugs such as cocaine affect synaptic plasticity in the VTA.

Selected Publications:

  • Mameli M, Halbout B, Creton C, Engblom D, Parkitna JR, Spanagel R, Lüscher C. Cocaine-evoked synaptic plasticity: persistence in the VTA triggers adaptations in the NAc. Nat Neurosci. 2009 Aug;12(8):1036-41. Epub 2009 Jul 13.
  • Labouèbe G, Lomazzi M, Cruz HG, Creton C, Luján R, Li M, Yanagawa Y, Obata K, Watanabe M, Wickman K, Boyer SB, Slesinger PA, Lüscher C. RGS2 modulates coupling between GABAB receptors and GIRK channels in dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area. Nat Neurosci. 2007 Dec;10(12):1559-68. Epub 2007 Oct 28.
  • Mameli M, Balland B, Luján R, Lüscher C. Rapid synthesis and synaptic insertion of GluR2 for mGluR-LTD in the ventral tegmental area. Science. 2007 Jul 27;317(5837):530-3.

Contact:
University Medical Center
Département des neurosciences fondamentales
Email: Christian (dot) Luscher (at) unige (dot) ch