Visiting Prof.
Hiroyuki NAWA

Specially Appointed Assist. Prof.

Specially Appointed Assist. Prof.
Hiroyoshi INABA

Research Focus

Neurons and glial cells communicate to each other not only via neurotransmitters but also using various bioactive proteins, namely neurotrophic factors and cytokines. Our long-term objective is to elucidate the molecular and pathologic mechanisms of how these bioactive proteins regulate brain development or perturb neural functions related with neuropsychiatric diseases. We have established animal models for schizophrenia by perturbation of cytokine signals during neonatal development. Using these models, we aim to clarify neuropathological and therapeutic mechanisms of the disease. Our efforts have been paid to the following projects: (1) the molecular and system neuropathology of schizophrenia and its animal modeling (hallucination, auditory-evoked potential, social withdrawal), (2) the cytokine-dependent regulation of monoaminergic development and function (EGF, NRG1, EGFR, ErbB4), and (3) the specificity and functionality of the intracellular signaling driven by these bioactive proteins and their possibility as therapeutic targets for schizophrenia. Currently we are addressing these questions employing all types of biological approaches including molecular genetic, biochemical, cell biological, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and behavioral tools and techniques. We hope these studies will lead to the understanding of how bioactive factors control the onset and progression of developmental brain diseases such as schizophrenia, which might hint at developing new drugs.