Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Pharmacology
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799

Fereshteh S. Nugent, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology

Fereshteh S. Nugent, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Neurophysiology, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran, 2003
Postdoctoral, Neuroscience, Brown University
Phone: (301) 295-3243
Lab: (301) 295-3221
Fax: (301) 295-3220
Email: fereshteh.nugent@usuhs.edu

Synaptic plasticity and Drug Addiction

Drug addiction costs the U.S. economy more than half a trillion dollars per year. Like most psychiatric disorders, its pathological basis is not yet well understood. Therefore, research is needed to understand the neural basis of addiction to improve prospects for successful treatment. The major components of the neural reward circuitry are capable of exhibiting synaptic plasticity, the neural substrate of learning and memory. Recent studies support the idea that induction of different forms of synaptic plasticity in response to drugs of abuse in the brain reward pathway contributes to the pathogenesis of addiction. While synaptic mechanisms involving glutamatergic synapses are well characterized and correlated with addiction, the mechanisms by which inhibitory GABAergic synapses contribute to addiction are still unknown. The major focus of my laboratory is to elucidate synaptic mechanisms underlying drug addiction and recently depression. To achieve this goal, we use in vitro slice preparation and patch clamp recording techniques in animal models of addiction to study synaptic plasticity relevant to drug addiction. We believe that understanding the synaptic basis of drug addiction will point to new directions in pharmacotherapy for addiction.

Selected Publications

Kodangattil J.N., Dacher M.A., Authement, M.E. and Nugent, F.S. Spike timing-dependent plasticity at GABAergic synapses in the Ventral tegmental area. Submitted

Dacher, M. A., Gouty, Sh., Dash, S., Cox, B.M., and Nugent, F.S. A-kinase anchoring protein-calcineurin signaling in long-term depression of GABAergic synapses, Journal of Neuroscience, Feb, 33:2650-60 (2013)

Dacher, M. and Nugent, F.S. Morphine-induced modulation of LTD at GABAergic Synapses in the ventral tegmental area, Neuropharmacology, 61(7):1166-71(2011)

Dacher, M. and Nugent, F.S. Opiates and plasticity, Neuropharmacology, 61(7):1088-96 (2011)

Nugent, F.S., Niehaus J.L., and Kauer, J.A. PKG and PKA Signaling in LTP at GABAergic Synapses, Neuropsychopharmacology, 34(7):1829-42 (2009)

Nugent, F.S. and Kauer, J.A. LTP of GABAergic synapses in the ventral tegmental area and beyond. Journal of Physiology, March 15, 586(6):1487-93 (2008)

Nugent, F.S., Penick, E.C., Kauer, J.A. Opiates block long-term potentiation of GABAergic synapses. Nature, 466: 1086-1095 (2007)

Salmanzadeh, F., Fathollahi, Y., Semananian, S., Shafiezadeh, M. Long-term potentiation as an electrophysiological assay for morphine dependence and withdrawal in rats: an in vitro study. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 124:189-196 (2003)

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Dr. Jayaraj N. Kodangattil

Graduate Student: Michael Authement

Lab Alumni: Dr. Matthieu Dacher (Assistant Professor, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France), and Steven Dash