LSU Health Research proposes a new mechanism for balancing emotional behavior

New Orleans, Los Angeles – Research conducted by Si-Qiong June Liu, MD, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, discovered a sudden mutual interaction between chemicals in the brain resulting in a rapid loss of the molecules that Regulating brain cell communications. The results of the research team were published online at Nature CommunicationsAvailable here.

Working in a rodent model, the researchers showed that the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter, speeds up the breakdown of cannabinoids in the brain. Endocannabinoids naturally produce molecules that regulate how brain cells communicate, and their dysfunction can lead to neurological disorders. Endocannabinoids are produced “on demand” and are removed when they are not needed. Researchers found that GABA upset this delicate balance. Endocannabinoids are critically involved in many aspects of processing emotional memory, and researchers have found that memory formation through fear conditioning selectively speeds up the degradation of the cerebellum. The results reveal a potential therapeutic goal to regulate the rate of degradation of endocannabinoids and provide an effective method for changing behavior.

Dr. Liu notes that “Endocannabinoids control emotional behavior.” “Learning increased the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, and this was responsible for altering the degradation of the endocannabinoid. This form of plasticity is responsible for the formation of fear memory. Our findings indicate a new mechanism for physiological regulation of endocannabinoid signaling and for modulating emotional behavior.”


Other members of the LSU Health New Orleans research team include Dr. Christoph J. Dubois, graduate student Jessica Fossett-Patel, and undergraduate student Paul A. Katzman.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Grant IBN-0344559, Veterans Administration Grant BX003893, National Institutes of Health Scholarships NS58867, R01NS106915 and MH095948, as well as NIH COPPER grant, P30 GM106392.

The LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans educates health care professionals in Louisiana. The state’s leading university of health sciences, LSU Health New Orleans includes the School of Medicine with campuses in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the state’s only dental school, the only public health school in Louisiana, schools of health and nursing professions, and graduate studies. LSU Health New Orleans’ faculty takes care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics across the region. At the forefront of bioscience research in a number of areas on the global stage, the LSU Health New Orleans research institution is generating enormous jobs and economic impact. Faculty at LSU Health New Orleans make life-saving discoveries and continue to work to prevent disease, develop or cure therapy. To learn more, visit http: // www.lsuhsc.Edo, http: // www.Twitter.Com /LSUHealth, Or http: // www.The social networking site Facebook.Com /LSUHSC.

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