Hypothalamic neuropeptides: Release mechanisms and synaptic function

Many basic aspects of neuropeptide release in the CNS remain unknown, majorly because methodological limitations to unambiguously identify distinct vesicle types in functional neuronal networks.  Interestingly, neuropeptides commonly undergo somato-dendritic release which properties and effect on synaptic transmission are largely unknown. Our team has developed novel imaging approaches to explore the molecular machinery and dynamics of hypothalamic neuropeptides such as oxytocin (OXT) and vasopressin (VSP). These tools will allow us to identify the exocytic machinery involved in neuropeptide release from the soma and dendrites of hypothalamic neurons and to elucidate the role of somatodendritic neuropeptide secretion on synaptic transmission and plasticity. Our group employs transgenic mouse models, optogenetics and electrophysiological recordings to explore the local action of OXT onto hypothalamic neurons.