Neurochemical Anatomy and Psychopharmacology Group

Investigating the functional plasticity of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters

Neurochemical Anatomy and Psychopharmacology Group

The Neurochemical Anatomy and Psychopharmacology Group is part of cell biology and pharmacology section of the Institute of Life Sciences and Healthcare (ILSH). Our research is focused on investigating the expression and functional plasticity of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central and peripheral nervous in response to psychosocial stress.

Our current laboratory research

The expression and function of neurotransmitter receptors in noradrenergic and serotonergic brain cent

Overview of the inhibitory innervation of noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus (LC). (A) shows the LC in the horizontal plane visualised by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity. The horizontal arrow points to the nuclear core region of the LC, which is composed of densely packed cell bodies and proximal dendrites of the principal noradrenergic neurons. The vertical arrow indicates the pericoerulear region of the LC which contains the distal dendrites of the noradrenergic neurons. (B1) and (B2) show the distribution of inhibitory synapses in the nuclear core and pericoerulear region respectively, using gephyrin immunoreactivity (red), a protein selectively located in inhibitory synapses. Note that gephyrin immunoreactive puncta appear to be preferentially located on dendritic compartments of noradrenergic neurons (green) with sparse immunoreactivity on somatic domains. C, caudal; L, lateral; M, medial; R, rostral; TH, tyrosine hydroxylase; IV, fourth ventricle. Scale bars (A) 50µm; (B,C) 10µm. Taken from Corteen et al., 2011.


  • Which neurotransmitter receptor subtypes are expressed in the locus coeruleus and dorsal-median raphe nuclei?How do these receptors contribute to neuronal excitability?
  • How does life experience (for e.g. stress) alter the expression and function of these receptors?

The role o GABA-A receptor subtypes in the enteric nervous of the small and large intestine

Neurochemical diversity of enteric nervous system neurons within the mouse colon.


  • Which GABA-A receptors subunits expressed in the enteric nervous system of the mouse intestine at the mRNA and protein level?
  • Do particular cell-types express distinct GABA-A receptors subunits?
  • How do particular GABA-A receptor influence intestinal function?
  • Do GABA-A receptors play a role in stress-induced GI disorders?

Genetic, cellular and behavioural correlates of environmental stress


  • How does exposure to psychosocial stress confer either vulnerability or resilience to developing mental illnesses and what are the molecular, cellular and electrophysiological correlates of such stress-induced behavioural phenotypes?

Functional plasticity of the locus coeruleus (LC)-Noradrenergic system in Alzheimer's disease (AD)


  • The LC is particularly vulnerable to accelerated degeneration in AD. Our focus is on the neurochemical and functional plasticity of the LC during AD-associated pathology and how the ensuing plasticity of the noradrenergic system impact on behaviour, with particular emphasis on mood disorders.

The role of stress and neurotransmitter receptors in addictions


  • This is a collaborative project with scientists from the Universities of Dundee and Sussex in which we aim to understand the roles of particular GABA-AR subtypes in addictive behaviour.

Our researcher

Jerome Dominic Swinny Portrait

Professor Jerome Swinny

Professor of Neuropharmacology

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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