Eero Castrén group
P.O. Box 56, FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Phone: 57626 (internal), +358 50 5207974
Our lab is investigating the role of neurotrophic factors and their receptors on neuronal plasticity and drug responses in adult brain. We have found that antidepressant drugs reactivate a developmental-like plasticity in the adult brain in rodents and we have coned this phenomenon iPlasticity. We first found that fluoxetine, a widely prescribed antidepressant drug, induces critical period-like plasticity in the adult rat visual cortex and brings about a recovery of vision in an amblyopic eye, when drug treatment is combined with patching of the healthy eye. We subsequently showed that fluoxetine treatment induces juvenile-like plasticity also in the amygdala, which may explain the enhanced effect of combined antidepressant drug treatment and psychotherapy in the treatment of traumatic memories. In iPlasticity, drugs have no functional effects of their own, but by inducing plasticity they promote the effects of rehabilitation and psychotherapy. We have shown that signaling of the neurotrophin BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and its receptor TrkB is required and sufficient for iPlasticity and that several other drug classes also activate TrkB signaling. We are now focusing on the neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying iPlasticity and investigating how adult plasticity could promote recovery in a variety of neuronal disorders. The lab is supported by the European Research Council Advanced investigator award and grants from Sigrid Jusélius Foundation and Academy of Finland.