Stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders

Epidemiological studies suggest a high degree of heritability for neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition, environmental factors such as the exposure to stressful life events impinge on the disease risk. Stress and a maladaptive stress response in combination with a genetic predisposition are able to trigger the precipitation of various neuropsychiatric disorders.

Our goal is to determine genetic risk factors and their interaction with environmental exposures (MPI - Stress-related Neuropsychiatric Disorders ). The establishment of appropriate genetic mouse models will aid the understanding of the impact of these putative susceptibility genes on the pathoetiology of psychiatric disorders. In addition, we particularly interested in the CRH related neuronal systems (including extrahypothalamic systems) that control the behavioral stress response. We use mouse genetic tools to address the in vivo function of the components of the CRH system, i.e. the ligands and their receptors. Applying conditional approaches (spatially or temporally controlled), we can selectively interrogate neural circuit-specific functions of the CRH system. These endeavors are of paramount importance for the future development of informative diagnoses and causal therapies.