David Dominguez Aguilar, Ph.D.
Research Associate in Psychiatry
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System
Boston Va Med Ctr-W Roxbury
Research, Bldg 3, 2B112
1400 VFW Pkwy
West Roxbury MA 02132
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(AGUILAR, DAVID DOMINGUEZ)
May 1, 2015 - Apr 30, 2017
Adolescent cannabinoid exposure in a rodent model of schizophrenia susceptibility
Role: Principal Investigator
May 1, 2015 - May 20, 2016
Adolescent Cannabinoid Exposure in a Rodent Model of Schizophrenia Susceptibility
Role Description: This project aims to explore the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in the development of psychotic symptoms. Cannabinoid exposure during adolescence is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, but this correlation is not causative. Thus, it is likely that people with a genetic predisposition to psychotic symptoms are more strongly affected by environmental risk factors. We have developed an animal model with increased susceptibility to schizophrenia-like symptoms by using the second filial (F2) generation of rats that were developmentally disrupted with methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM). We hypothesize cannabinoid exposure during adolescence will increase the proportion of these "F2 MAM" rats displaying a schizophrenia-like phenotype. This phenotype will be evaluated at the behavioral level (with stimulant-induced hyperlocomotion, social interaction, and attentional set-shifting), the cellular level (spontaneous dopamine neuron activity and hippocampal pyramidal activity), and the molecular level (expression of inhibitory markers). Understanding additive or interactive effects of risk factors could allow us to make more accurate predictions of developing psychotic symptoms, as well as personalize warnings for those already at risk. Furthermore, a model of susceptibility would be extremely useful for preventative experimental therapies. This proposal will provide important training in experimental design, laboratory and analytical techniques, ethics, and other essential skills for a future independent investigator.
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