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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011 Sep;36(5):296-310. doi: 10.1503/jpn.100171.

Role of netrin-1 in the organization and function of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Montréal, QC, Canada.


Changes in mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) neurons and their target cells can be induced throughout life and are important determinants of individual differences in susceptibility to psychopathology. The goal of my research is to gain insight into the nature of the cellularand molecular mechanism underlying the selective plasticity of mesocorticolimbic DA neurons. Here, I review work showing that the guidance cue netrin-1 is implicated in the organization, plasticity and function of mesocorticolimbic DA neurons in rodents. Developmental variations in netrin-1 receptor function result in selective reorganization of medial prefrontal DA circuitry during adolescence and in an adult phenotype protected against schizophrenia-like dopaminergic and behavioural abnormalities. Furthermore, in adulthood, expression of netrin-1 receptors is upregulated by repeated exposure to stimulant drugs of abuse in DA somatodendritic regions and is necessary for drug-induced behavioural plasticity. I propose that risk factors associated with DA-related adult psychiatric disorders alter netrin-1 function.

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