Meenakshi Alreja PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Neurobiology; Director, Minority Recruitment, Psychiatry Department; Director, Postdoctoral Affairs, Psychiatry Department

Research Interests

Prefrontal cortex; Interneurons; Nicotine; Acetylcholine; Electrophysiology; GABA; glutamate; Hypocretin; MCH; Learning and Memory; Neurotransmitters; Signal Transduction; GnRH; Puberty; Fertility; HPG axis; Kisspeptin


Research Summary

A major focus of the Alreja lab is to study brain circuits involved in learning and memory mechanisms. Studies focus on cellular mechanisms operating in septohippocampal and prefrontal cortical circuits; these circuits are implicated in cognitive deficits that are a hallmark of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia and mental disorders such as Schizophrenia. A second major focus of the lab is to study the neuroendocrinology of puberty and reproduction. The two lines of research are intended to provide novel insights into mechanisms underlying developmental disorders such as schizophrenia that often have an onset around puberty. The lab uses various lines of transgenic mice to prepare brain slices for electrophysiological and neuropharmacological studies that are used in conjunction with anatomical and molecular approaches.

Extensive Research Description

A major focus of the Alreja lab is to study brain circuits involved in learning and memory mechanisms. Studies focus on cellular mechanisms operating in septohippocampal and prefrontal cortical circuits; these circuits are implicated in cognitive deficits that are a hallmark of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia and mental disorders such as Schizophrenia. A second major focus of the lab is to study the neuroendocrinology of puberty and reproduction.

The two lines of research are intended to provide novel insights into mechanisms underlying developmental disorders such as schizophrenia that often have an onset around puberty. The lab uses various lines of transgenic mice to prepare brain slices for electrophysiological and neuropharmacological studies that are used in conjunction with anatomical and molecular approaches.


Selected Publications

  • Wu M, Dumalska I, Morozova E, van den Pol A and Alreja M Melanin-concentrating hormone directly inhibits GnRH neurons and blocks kisspeptin activation: link between energy balance and reproduction. PNAS 106(40):17217-22. 2009.
  • Wu M, Dumalska I, Morozova E, van den Pol A and Alreja M Gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) innervates, inhibits basal forebrain vGluT2-GnRH neurons via a direct postsynaptic mechanism. J. Physiology, 587.7:1401-1411, 2009.
  • Morozova, E. Wu, M., Dumalska, I and Alreja, M. The novel tachykinin, hemokinin-1, activates septohippocampal cholinergic neurons via NK1, NK2 and NK3 receptors. Eur. J. Neurosci., 27(1):114-122, 2008
  • Dumalska I, Wu M, Morozova E, Liu R, van den Pol A, Alreja M (Aug 2008) Excitatory effects of the puberty-initiating peptide kisspeptin and group I metabotropic glutamate receptor agonists differentiate two distinct subpopulations of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons., The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 28(32)8003-13
  • Morozova E, Wu M, Dumalska I, Alreja M (Jan 2008) Neurokinins robustly activate the majority of septohippocampal cholinergic neurons., The European journal of neuroscience, 27(1)114-22
  • Xu C, Wu M, Morozova E, Alreja M (Oct 2006) Muscarine activates the sodium-calcium exchanger via M receptors in basal forebrain neurons., The European journal of neuroscience, 24(8)2309-13
  • Xu C, Michelsen KA, Wu M, Morozova E, Panula P, Alreja M, Histamine Innervation and Activation of Septohippocampal GABAergic Neurones: Involvement of Local ACh Release., The Journal of Physiology, 561(Pt 3):657-70, Dec 2004

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