The role of endocannabinoid system as therapeutic target for anxiety and abuse of substances; Neurobiological mechanims involved in obesity and anxiety disorders
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
Daniele Cristina de Aguiar
Daniele Cristina de Aguiar; Fabricio de Araújo Moreira
English; Portuguese
4 weeks
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
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Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Obesity is an ever-increasing healthy issue in modern societies. The broad availability of highly caloric food and unhealth dietary habits, based on sugar and fatty contents, is driving an unprecedent increase in obesity throughout western societies. In addition to the deleterious metabolic consequences, such diets also exert a significant impact on brain functions. They strongly activate brain regions responsible for rewarding sensations in a similar way as certain drugs of abuse, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine. The main mechanism underlying these rewarding effects is the activation of dopaminergic pathways projecting from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens. The biological similarities between the rewarding effects of food and drugs indicates that obesity and drug addiction should be investigated and tackled with similar approaches.
What is the aim of the project?
Our working hypothesis is that a common target, the cannabinoid CB2 receptor, may lead to potential approaches to treat both obesity associated effects and drug addiction.
What techniques and methods are used?
Animal behavioural paradigms, immunohistochemistry and molecular biology. To study the animal behavior we mainly observe physiological parameters. Therefore, food and water intake can be measured in mice, as well as the body weight and temperature. To standardize stress effects, the mice can be pre-adapted to the measurements. To analyze the production of cytokines through immunohistochemistry, plasma and brain extracts from mice are used and the essay is performed by an ELISA technique kit as described by the manufacturer. To analyze celular activation in brain sections, we can use immunofluorescence by the protocols previously described. Brain sections (free-floating) are incubated with primary antibodies specific the antigen. After that, we wash the sections and stain with species-specific secondary antibodies conjugated. Sections are rinsed, mounted with Vectashield (Vector Labs) and examined on a Leica TCS confocal microscope (Leica Microsystems). Molecular biology techniques are also very likely to be used at the experiments. In addition, studies such as gene and protein expression quantification we performed. We use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tecnique to amplificate the genes and then we use bacterias to express the specific proteins. PCR is a method widely used in molecular biology to make several copies of a specific DNA segment. Using PCR, copies of DNA sequences are exponentially amplified to generate thousands to millions of more copies of that particular DNA segment.
What is the role of the student?
- The student will mainly observe
- If the project includes “lab work”
- the student will take active part in the practical aspect of the project
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
To learn the tecniques in the field of neuroscience and to help undergraduated students in their experiments, such as manipulation of samples, learning how to use many useful laboratory equipaments and to develope a scientific line of work. We require the student to study the recommended articles. Besides, we expect the undergraduated student to present by the end of his research intership his experiences, outcomes and possible suggestions to improve the program.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
The students willl receive articles related to the project, being able to participate in the lab seminars which adress topics related to the role of endocannabinoid system as therapeutic target for anxiety and abuse of substances. In the seminars we discuss the current developing researchs by our team. The seminars are lead by a professor or other laboratory researcher.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- No specific outcome is expected
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
No skills required.
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
- Pre-Medical students from the American-British system
- GOBIRA PH; OLIVEIRA ALP; GOMES JA; SILBEIRA V; ASTH L; BASTOS J; BATISTA E; ISSY A; OKYNE B; DE OLIVEIRA; AC; RIBEIRO FM; DEL BEL E; AGUIAR; DC; FINN D; MOREIRA FA. Opposing roles of type-1 and type-2 cannabinoid receptors in cocaine stimulant and rewarding effects. BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGY; v. 148; p. 284-290; 2019
- VILELA LR; GOBIRA PH; VIANA TG; MEDEIROS; DC; FERREIRA-VIEIRA TH; DORIA JG; RODRIGUES F; AGUIAR DC; PEREIRA GS; MASSESSINI AR; RIBEIRO FM; DE OLIVEIRA ACP; MORAES MFD; MOREIRA FA. Enhancement of endocannabinoid signalling protects against cocaine-induced neurotoxicity. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology; v. 286; p. 178-187; 2015.