My research activities are focused on the plasticity of inhibitory controls in the central nervous system. Initially trained as electrophysiologist, I have performed several studies on the fast GABAergic transmission in the hypothalamus, the hippocampal formation and more recently in the spinal cord. From the beginning of my career, I have always been interested by the powerful role of neuroendocrine factors on brain function.
We made pioneering work on the role of neurosteroids in shaping CNS synaptic inhibition during development, at adulthood and in pathological conditions. We are presently developing new approaches aimed at stimulating the synthesis of 3alpha-neurosteroids (such as allopregnanolone) which display potent anti-epileptic, anxiolytic and analgesic properties.
More recently, we characterized the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in the control of spinal pain processing. Apart from their neurohormonal action, which we recently re-evaluated, they act as inhibitory neuromodulators in the spinal cord to limit nociceptive messages. We are currently studying the role of other neuropeptides with similar profile to better understand their role in physiological and pathological pain processing In summary, my main interest is to identifity homeostatic determinants of pain which could amplify CNS inhibition in order to compensate pathological disinhibition seen inchronic pain conditions. This ambitious goal is achieved by implementing a large variety of techniques ranging from the molecular/cellular biology approaches to the behavioral analysis of freely-moving animals.