Eero Castrén group
Induction of neuronal plasticity the adult brain: mechanisms and applications
P.O. Box 56, FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Phone: +358-9-191 57626
Fax: +358-9-191 57620
We have found that antidepressant drugs reactivate a developmental-like plasticity in the adult brain in rodents. We first demonstrated this phenomenon, coined iPlasticity, in the rat visual cortex in collaboration with Lamberto Maffei's lab: Oral treatment with fluoxetine, a widely prescribed antidepressant drug, induces critical period-like plasticity and brings about a recovery of vision in an amblyopic eye, when drug treatment is combined with patching of the healthy eye. As a translational extension of these findings, clinical trials are ongoing to test whether antidepressant drug treatment can be used for the treatment of amblyopia in adult humans. We have subsequently shown that fluoxetine treatment induces juvenile-like plasticity in the amygdala, which may explain the enhanced effect of combined antidepressant drug treatment and psychotherapy in the treatment of traumatic memories. 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 grants from the European Research Council, Sigrid JusÚlius foundation and Academy of Finland Center of Excellence programme.