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Formation and plasticity of neuromodulatory circuits

The neuropeptides oxytocin (OXT) and vasopressin (VSP) play critical roles in regulating complex animal behaviors and homeostatic functions. Both neuropeptides are mainly synthesized at specific hypothalamic nuclei, such as the paraventricular and suprachiasmatic nucleus (PVN and SON). Our previous work (Madrigal & Jurado, 2021) revealed a significant number of neurons co-expressing OXT and AVP during early postnatal stages. This mixed population drastically declines in the adult brain, suggesting that a switch in neuropeptide expression is required for the maturation of the system. We continue exploring the specification of these neuromodulatory systems throughout development and their adaptations in response to vital events during adulthood. To this aim we employ brain clarification techniques such as iDISCO+, Light Sheet Microscopy and 3D imaging techniques to reconstruct these neuromodulatory systems through the lifespan. Furthermore, we are exploring the alterations of the OXT and VSP circuits associated with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

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