Central Synaptic Communication: Neuropeptides, Abused Drugs and Neuropathology
For the past 19 years, our electrophysiology laboratory has sought to understand mechanisms of neuronal function and synaptic communication and the effects of neuropeptides, abused drugs and neuropathological insults on these mechanisms , using extracellular, intracellular and patch recording of neurons in vitro brain slice and freshly-isolated neuronal preparations. We administer drugs, transmitters, cytokines and neurotoxins by superfusion and from micropipettes, and we activate synaptic transmission via stimulating electrodes. The neuropeptides under study include somatostatin, cortistatin, various opioid peptides, nociceptin and neuropeptide Y. These peptides generally have inhibitory actions on central neurons, although with different profiles of actions with respect to neuron type. In addition, several of these peptides have anti-epileptic properties. We also investigate the action and function of several cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, interferons, and the effects on neuronal function of several neuropathological insults, including those thought to cause dementias, such as beta amyloid and the HIV coat protein gp-120.