Dr. Suzanne Zukin is Director of the Neurophsycopharmacology Center. Dr. Zukin’s research centers on alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis in perimenopausal women which are associated with multi-organ risk factors for disease. Transient forebrain or global ischemia arising during cardiac arrest affects 150,000 Americans each year and in many cases results in delayed death of hippocampal neurons and severe cognitive deficits. Recent findings in the Zukin lab show that a single, acute injection of estradiol administered after an ischemic event ameliorates neuronal death and cognitive deficits in a clinically relevant model of global ischemia (see Etgen). Her main focus is to identify molecular mechanisms underlying acute estradiol neuroprotection and identify novel targets in a rat model of global ischemia.
Dr. Zukin’s current and future efforts focus on the following:
- Dr. Zukin hypothesizes that acute estradiol acts via ERα, GPR30 and IGF-I receptors converge on PI3K/Akt and JAK/STAT signaling and transcription factors that orchestrate epigenetic remodeling and altered expression of genes involved in neuronal survival/death. Her lab will identify cellular targets that mediate the neuro-protective effects of acute estradiol at high doses, and whether estradiol acts via coordinate activation of ERα and IGF-I receptors, which engage PI3K/Akt and/or JAK/STAT signaling to protect hippocampal neurons.
- The Zukin laboratory will also determine whether estradiol promotes epigenetic remodeling of ERα, STAT3 and CREB target genes and whether estradiol counters ischemia-induced epigenetic remodeling. These studies are expected to shed light on how estradiol ameliorates neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits associated with global ischemia arising after cardiac arrest or cardiac surgery in women. This research has applicability not only to ischemia, but also to other neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging.