Our translational animal research is focused on the neurodevelopmental outcomes due to early life alterations. Interactions between genes and the environment play an important role in the development of psychopathology. It is our main goal to address the developmental role of serotonin in developing psychopathology later in life using an advanced animal model for depression (serotonin transporter knockout rat). To address the fundamental issues that underlie alterations due to early life events, we attempt to identify molecular mechanisms underlying these alterations.
Effects of antenatal depression and antidepressant treatment during pregnancy
Depressive symptoms frequently occur during pregnancy and may have a tremendous impact on the developing child. Unfortunately, pharmacological antidepressant treatments during pregnancy can also negatively impact the behavioural development and health of the offspring. In humans it is difficult to discern between the effects of the drug and the effects of the depression itself, therefore it is unclear whether children exposed to antidepressants in utero are at increased risk, and if so, what the underlying molecular mechanisms are that may point to potential solutions. We investigate the molecular mechanisms and behavioral alterations in the offspring that are altered due to antenatal depression, antidepressant treatment during pregnancy, and their combination.
We conduct extensive behavioural experimentation (Emotional, social, sleep and cognition), Physiology (telemetry), pharmacological manipulations (SSRIs), immunohistochemical assessments and molecular analysis (microarray, qPCR, genotyping, DNA methylation, DNA hydroxymethylation, histone methylation).