Skip to main content

Deciphering the Roles of Dopamine in Both Parkinson’s Disease and Schizophrenia

Ariel Y. Deutch, Ph.D.
James G. Blakemore Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Vanderbilt Brain Institute
8122 MRB III
465 21st Ave South
Nashville, TN 37232-2050
615-327-7090
ariel.deutch@vanderbilt.edu

Changes in the availability or function of the neurotransmitter dopamine are central to the pathophysiology of both Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and schizophrenia.  Most of our lab’s efforts revolve around deciphering the roles of dopamine in both disorders.  In PD there is a loss of dendritic spines (the gateway to the neuron for excitatory inputs) on neurons in the striatum. In  schizophrenia there is a loss of dendritic spines on pyramidal cells in the prefrontal cortex (PFC).  We use a variety of anatomical, biochemical, and molecular methods to uncover the mechanisms underlying spine loss in the PFC and striatum in animal models and postmortem material from patients.  Particular attention is currently being devoted to understanding the vulnerability of certain neurons but not adjacent neurons to dopamine depletion-induced spine loss, and to increasing our knowledge of the factors that underlie the resilience or resistance of other neurons to spine loss.  We are also examining the potential role of different types of serotonin axons in the depression that is often seen in PD patients.

For more information, please visit the lab website.