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    Research

    •    The role of  mitochondria in stress and high anxiety


    The molecular etiopathiology of neuropsychiatric disorders remains largely unresolved. Mitochondria are cellular organelles that perform a plethora of functions in the brain; they produce energy, regulate oxidative stress and modulate neurotransmission (Filiou and Sandi 2019, Trends Neurosci).  We have previously found that mitochondria are involved in high anxiety and stress responses (Filiou et al. 2011, Biol Psychiatry; Lopes et al. 2017 Cereb Cortex).  We are now investigating how different stress types and environmental/lifestyle interventions affect mitochondrial functions and how mitochondria shape stress- and anxiety-related behaviors.


    •    Molecular signatures and candidate biomarkers for neuropsychiatric phenotypes and treatment responses


    To date, no valid molecular biomarkers exist in clinical psychiatry. Unraveling biosignatures for neuropsychiatric disorders will significantly facilitate diagnosis, personalized treatment and biomarker discovery.  We are exploring metabolomic and proteomic profiles in the brain and peripheral material of animal models and patient cohorts of pertinent pathologies. We are also looking for molecular patterns which are characteristic for responses to pharmacological treatment.


    •    Mitochondria as therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric disorders


    Existing pharmacological strategies for neuropsychiatric disorders suffer from severe side-effects, slow mode of action and low remission rates. Identifying novel pharmacological targets is critical for developing optimized therapies. We have shown for the first time that selective mitochondrial targeting exerts anxiolytic effects in vivo  (Nussbaumer et al. 2016). Currently, we are characterizing the effects of mitochondria-centered treatments and assess their therapeutic and prophylactic potential in cell culture and animal models of neuropsychiatric phenotypes.


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    Watch the story of 'The Mitochondrion and Mr. Mouse' for a summary of our research