Project Overview

Effects of anti-depressants on nitric oxide released from glial cells

Faculty Sponsor

Jun Yoshino (


Psychological and Brain Sciences


Glial cells surround neurons within the brain and serve many functions.  The astrocyte can metabolize neurotransmitters, regulate blood flow, and participate in the formation of new synapses.  Microglia are important in the brain’s response to disease. Microglia will respond to the immune attack by synthesizing inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an enzyme that produces nitric oxide (NO•), a highly reactive molecule.
The project will entail studying the modulation of the synthesis of iNOS in vitro, using cells prepared from 2d rat cerebra. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) a component of bacterial cell walls will be used to activate the cells to synthesize iNOS. Previously, we have found that the anti-depressant fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) increase the release of NO• and synthesis of iNOS induced by LPS.  This effect has been observed in mixed glial cultures, where astrocytes and microglia are together.  The next step is to produce purified astrocytes and microglia to determine whether the effect of fluoxetine and paroxetine is on the astrocyte, microglia, or both.

Student Qualifications

The student should have completed at a minimum:  Introduction to Brain and Behavior and Bio 182.  Preference will be given to those students who have also taken Neurochemistry because much of what is taught in the course is important in understanding the research during summer.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (