The Neuropharmacology Core enables investigators to use in vitro and in vivo assays to serve as a guide in the isolation and identification of biological-active natural products and to evaluate compounds predicted to have activities in these systems through rational drug design. The in vitro assays are aimed to increase our understanding of the mechanisms of actions of natural products on the endocannabinoid system. This includes conducting assays for affinity to cannabinoid receptor type 1 and type 2 (CB1 and CB2) and the μ, δ, and ĸ opioid receptors (MOR, DOR, KOR). In addition to affinity assays, we offer multiple functional assays for each receptor. The Core also isolates primary neurons and/or astrocytes for assessment of neurotoxicity, neuroprotection, and neurite outgrowth changes in response to drug treatment. Additional support for molecular biology techniques including qPCR, Western blotting, and ELISA are available upon request.
The in vivo component of the Neuropharmacology Core currently provides the resources and technical support necessary for drug administration in animal models and analysis of many aspects of animal behavior in response to treatment. Zebrafish assays of developmental toxicity and anti-epileptic effects of drugs are available, and include both genetic and pharmacological induced seizures. Our rodent models (mice and rats) include assays of abuse potential, cannabinoid function (temperature, locomotion, pain, and catalepsy), ataxia, anti-nociception, anxiolytic, anti-depressant, allodynia, anti-migraine, and post-traumatic stress effects. Additionally, learning and memory as well as muscle strength can be assessed in both mice and rats. Together, we can develop protocols to best suit the needs of investigators when administering novel compounds to our various animal assays.