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Monique VALLEE

Principal Investigator

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49 publication(s) since Août 1994:

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09/12/2019 | J Neurosci Methods   IF 2.8
Alpha technology: A powerful tool to detect mouse brain intracellular signaling events.
Zanese M*, Tomaselli G*, Roullot-Lacarriere V, Moreau M, Bellocchio L, Grel A, Marsicano G, Sans N, Vallee M, Revest JM

BACKGROUND: Phosphorylation by protein kinases is a fundamental molecular process involved in the regulation of signaling activities in living organisms. Understanding this complex network of phosphorylation, especially phosphoproteins, is a necessary step for grasping the basis of cellular pathophysiology. Studying brain intracellular signaling is a particularly complex task due to the heterogeneous complex nature of the brain tissue, which consists of many embedded structures. NEW METHOD: Overcoming this degree of complexity requires a technology with a high throughput and economical in the amount of biological material used, so that a large number of signaling pathways may be analyzed in a large number of samples. We have turned to Alpha (Amplified Luminescent Proximity Homogeneous Assay) technology. COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHOD: Western blot is certainly the most commonly used method to measure the phosphorylation state of proteins. Even though Western blot is an accurate and reliable method for analyzing modifications of proteins, it is a time-consuming and large amounts of samples are required. Those two parameters are critical when the goal of the research is to comprehend multi-signaling proteic events so as to analyze several targets from small brain areas. RESULT: Here we demonstrate that Alpha technology is particularly suitable for studying brain signaling pathways by allowing rapid, sensitive, reproducible and semi-quantitative detection of phosphoproteins from individual mouse brain tissue homogenates and from cell fractionation and synaptosomal preparations of mouse hippocampus. CONCLUSION: Alpha technology represents a major experimental step forward in unraveling the brain phosphoprotein-related molecular mechanisms involved in brain-related disorders.

The pregnenolone-progesterone-allopregnanolone pathway is receiving increasing attention in research on the role of neurosteroids in pathophysiology, particularly in stress-related and drug use disorders. These disorders involve an allostatic change that may result from deficiencies in allostasis or adaptive responses, and may be downregulated by adjustments in neurotransmission by neurosteroids. The following is an overview of findings that assess how pregnenolone and/or allopregnanolone concentrations are altered in animal models of stress and after consumption of alcohol or cannabis-type drugs, as well as in patients with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis and/or in those diagnosed with alcohol or cannabis use disorders. Preclinical and clinical evidence shows that pregnenolone and allopregnanolone, operating according to a different or common pharmacological profile involving GABAergic and/or endocannabinoid system, may be relevant biomarkers of psychiatric disorders for therapeutic purposes. Hence, ongoing clinical trials implicate synthetic analogs of pregnenolone or allopregnanolone, and also modulators of neurosteroidogenesis.

21/03/2018 | Anal Chem   IF 6.4
An isotope dilution based-targeted and non-targeted carbonyl neurosteroid/steroid profiling.
Sharp S, Mitchell SJ, Vallee M, Kuzmanova E, Cooper M, Belelli D, Lambert JJ, Huang JT

Neurosteroids are brain-derived steroids, capable of rapidly modulating neuronal excitability in a non-genomic manner. Dysregulation of their synthesis, or metabolism has been implicated in many pathological conditions. Here, we describe an isotope dilution based targeted and non-targeted (ID-TNT) profiling of carbonyl neurosteroids/steroids. The method combines stable isotope dilution, hydroxylamine derivatization, high-resolution MS scanning and data dependent MS/MS analysis, allowing absolute quantification of pregnenolone, progesterone, 5alpha-dihydroprogesterone, 3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone and 3beta,5alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone, and relative quantification of other carbonyl containing steroids. The utility and validity of this approach was tested in an acute stress mouse model and via pharmacological manipulation of the steroid metabolic pathway with finasteride. We report that brain levels of 3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone, a potent enhancer of GABAA receptor (GABAAR-mediated inhibitory function, from control mice is in the 5-20 pmol/g range, a value greater than previously reported. The approach allows the use of data from targeted analysis to guide the normalization strategy for non-targeted data. Furthermore, novel findings, including a striking increase of brain pregnenolone following finasteride administration were discovered in this study. Collectively, our results indicate that this approach has distinct advantages for examining targeted and non-targeted neurosteroid/steroid pathways in animal models, and could facilitate a better understanding of the physiological and pathological roles of neurosteroids as modulators of brain excitability.

05/07/2017 | curr protoc neurosci
Cannabinoid-Induced Tetrad in Mice.
Metna-Laurent M, Mondesir M, Grel A, Vallee M, Piazza PV

Cannabinoid-induced tetrad is a preclinical model commonly used to evaluate if a pharmacological compound is an agonist of the central type-1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor in rodents. The tetrad is characterized by hypolocomotion, hypothermia, catalepsy, and analgesia, four phenotypes that are induced by acute administration of CB1 agonists exemplified by the prototypic cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This unit describes a standard protocol in mice to induce tetrad phenotypes with THC as reference cannabinoid. We provide typical results obtained with this procedure showing a dose effect of THC in different mouse strains. The effect of the CB1 antagonist rimonabant is also shown. This tetrad protocol is well adapted to reveal new compounds acting on CB1 receptors in vivo. (c) 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

21/02/2017 | Mol Psychiatry   IF 12
Pregnenolone blocks cannabinoid-induced acute psychotic-like states in mice.
Busquets-Garcia A, Soria-Gomez E, Redon B, Mackenbach Y, Vallee M, Chaouloff F, Varilh M, Ferreira G, Piazza PV, Marsicano G

Cannabis-induced acute psychotic-like states (CIAPS) represent a growing health issue, but their underlying neurobiological mechanisms are poorly understood. The use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines against CIAPS is limited by side effects and/or by their ability to tackle only certain aspects of psychosis. Thus, safer wide-spectrum treatments are currently needed. Although the blockade of cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1) had been suggested as a therapeutical means against CIAPS, the use of orthosteric CB1 receptor full antagonists is strongly limited by undesired side effects and low efficacy. The neurosteroid pregnenolone has been recently shown to act as a potent endogenous allosteric signal-specific inhibitor of CB1 receptors. Thus, we tested in mice the potential therapeutic use of pregnenolone against acute psychotic-like effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis. We found that pregnenolone blocks a wide spectrum of THC-induced endophenotypes typically associated with psychotic-like states, including impairments in cognitive functions, somatosensory gating and social interaction. In order to capture THC-induced positive psychotic-like symptoms (e.g. perceptual delusions), we adapted a behavioral paradigm based on associations between different sensory modalities and selective devaluation, allowing the measurement of mental sensory representations in mice. Acting at hippocampal CB1 receptors, THC impaired the correct processing of mental sensory representations (reality testing) in an antipsychotic- and pregnenolone-sensitive manner. Overall, this work reveals that signal-specific inhibitors mimicking pregnenolone effects can be considered as promising new therapeutic tools to treat CIAPS.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 21 February 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.4.

24/01/2017 | Neuropharmacology   IF 4.4
CRF1 receptor-deficiency increases cocaine reward.
Contarino A, Kitchener P, Vallee M, Papaleo F, Piazza PV

Stimulant drugs produce reward but also activate stress-responsive systems. The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and the related hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress-responsive systems are activated by stimulant drugs. However, their role in stimulant drug-induced reward remains poorly understood. Herein, we report that CRF1 receptor-deficient (CRF1-/-), but not wild-type, mice show conditioned place preference (CPP) responses to a relatively low cocaine dose (5 mg/kg, i.p.). Conversely, wild-type, but not CRF1-/-, mice display CPP responses to a relatively high cocaine dose (20 mg/kg, i.p.), indicating that CRF1 receptor-deficiency alters the rewarding effects of cocaine. Acute pharmacological antagonism of the CRF1 receptor by antalarmin also eliminates cocaine reward. Nevertheless, CRF1-/- mice display higher stereotypy responses to cocaine than wild-type mice. Despite the very low plasma corticosterone concentration, CRF1-/- mice show higher nuclear glucocorticoid receptor (GR) levels in the brain region of the hippocampus than wild-type mice. Full rescue of wild-type-like corticosterone and GR circadian rhythm and level in CRF1-/- mice by exogenous corticosterone does not affect CRF1 receptor-dependent cocaine reward but induces stereotypy responses to cocaine. These results indicate a critical role for the CRF1 receptor in cocaine reward, independently of the closely related HPA axis activity.

31/05/2016 | Neuropharmacology   IF 4.4
Differential control of dopamine ascending pathways by serotonin2B receptor antagonists: New opportunities for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Devroye C, Cathala A, Haddjeri N, Rovera R, Vallee M, Drago F, Piazza PV, Spampinato U

Recent studies suggest that the central serotonin2B receptor (5-HT2BR) could be an interesting pharmacological target for treating neuropsychiatric disorders related to dopamine (DA) dysfunction, such as schizophrenia. Thus, the present study was aimed at characterizing the role of 5-HT2BRs in the control of ascending DA pathway activity. Using neurochemical, electrophysiological and behavioral approaches, we assessed the effects of two selective 5-HT2BR antagonists, RS 127445 and LY 266097, on in vivo DA outflow in DA-innervated regions, on mesencephalic DA neuronal firing, as well as in behavioral tests predictive of antipsychotic efficacy and tolerability, such as phencyclidine (PCP)-induced deficit in novel object recognition (NOR) test, PCP-induced hyperlocomotion and catalepsy. Both RS 127445 (0.16 mg/kg, i.p.) and LY 266097 (0.63 mg/kg, i.p.) increased DA outflow in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). RS 127445, devoid of effect in the striatum, decreased DA outflow in the nucleus accumbens, and potentiated haloperidol (0.1 mg/kg, s.c.)-induced increase in mPFC DA outflow. Also, RS 127445 decreased the firing rate of DA neurons in the ventral tegmental area, but had no effect in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Finally, both RS 127445 and LY 266097 reversed PCP-induced deficit in NOR test, and reduced PCP-induced hyperlocomotion, without inducing catalepsy. These results demonstrate that 5-HT2BRs exert a differential control on DA pathway activity, and suggest that 5-HT2BR antagonists could represent a new class of drugs for improved treatment of schizophrenia, with an ideal profile of effects expected to alleviate cognitive and positive symptoms, without eliciting extrapyramidal symptoms.

30/09/2015 | J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol   IF 3.8
Neurosteroids and potential therapeutics: focus on pregnenolone.
Vallee M

Considerable evidence from preclinical and clinical studies shows that steroids and in particular neurosteroids are important endogenous modulators of several brain-related functions. In this context, it remains to be elucidated whether neurosteroids may serve as biomarkers in the diagnosis of disorders and might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of these disorders. Pregnenolone (PREG) is the main steroid synthesized from cholesterol in mammals and invertebrates. PREG has three main sources of synthesis, the gonads, adrenal glands and brain and is submitted to various metabolizing pathways which are modulated depending on various factors including species, steroidogenic tissues and steroidogenic enzymes. Looking at the whole picture of steroids, PREG is often known as the precursor to other steroids and not as an active steroid per se. Actually, physiological and brain functions have been studied mainly for steroids that are very active either binding to specific intracellular receptors, or modulating with high affinity the abundant membrane receptors, GABAA or NMDA receptors. However, when high sensitive and specific methodological approaches were available to analyze low concentrations of steroids and then match endogenous levels of different steroid metabolomes, several studies have reported more significant alterations in PREG than in other steroids in extraphysiological or pathological conditions, suggesting that PREG could play a functional role as well. Additionally, several molecular targets of PREG were revealed in the mammalian brain and beneficial effects of PREG have been demonstrated in preclinical and clinical studies. On this basis, this review will be divided into three parts. The first provides a brief overview of the molecular targets of PREG and the pharmacological effects observed in animal and human studies. The second will focus on the possible functional role of PREG with an outline of the modulation of PREG levels in animal and in human research. Finally, the review will highlight the possible therapeutic uses of PREG that point towards the development of pregnenolone-like molecules.

22/04/2015 | Behav Brain Res   IF 2.8
Finasteride administration potentiates the disruption of prepulse inhibition induced by forced swim stress.
Pallares M, Llido A, Modol L, Vallee M, Darbra S

Acute stress has been demonstrated to alter sensory gating processes, measured by the prepulse inhibition of the startle response (PPI). It is well known that brain and plasma levels of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone (ALLO) increase after acute environmental stress, fact that has been considered a homeostatic mechanism in restoring normal function following stress. Thus, it is of great interest to study the contribution of stress-altered plasma ALLO levels on PPI function. For this purpose, animals were injected with finasteride, an ALLO synthesis inhibitor, and submitted to swim stress before PPI testing. In order to obtain ALLO plasma levels, a separate set of animals that followed the same experimental procedure was used. We hypothesize that the blockade of ALLO production in response to stress can increase the stress-induced PPI disruption. In accordance with other authors, our results indicate that acute swim stress disrupted the normal PPI evolution (increase) related to the increase in prepulse intensities, and also decreased PPI at the highest prepulse intensity level (15db above background). Finasteride potentiated the PPI decrease induced by swim stress in the intermediate prepulse intensity (10db above background). As expected, plasma ALLO levels were increased in stressed animals and this increase was neutralized by prior finasteride administration. These results indicate that the neutralization of the physiological plasma ALLO levels increase after acute stress potentiates stress-induced PPI disruption. This data suggests that alterations in homeostatic ALLO synthesis mechanism may be linked to some neuropsychiatric disorders related to stress, such as anxiety/depression disorders.

RATIONALE: New research findings in the field of neuroactive steroids strongly suggest that to understand their role in physiopathology, it is essential to accurately measure their tissue levels. Through his broad chemical expertise and extensive knowledge of steroids, Dr. Robert H. Purdy pioneered structure-activity relationship studies on these compounds and developed innovative detection assays that are essential to assess their function in biological tissues. OBJECTIVE: The goal of the present paper is to point out the specific contributions of Dr. Purdy and his collaborators to the current knowledge on the role of neuroactive steroids in the modulation of memory and alcohol- and stress-related effects with particular emphasis on the detection assays he developed to assess their endogenous levels. Reviewed here are the major results as well as the original and valuable methodological strategies issued by the long-term collaboration between Dr Purdy and many scientists worldwide on the investigation of the structure-activity relationship of neuroactive steroids. RESULTS: Altogether, the data presented herein put forward the original notion that knowledge of the chemical structure of steroids is essential for their detection and the understanding of their role in physiological and pathological conditions, including the stress response. CONCLUSIONS: The current challenge is to identify and quantify using appropriate methods neuroactive steroids in the context of both animal and clinical studies in order to reveal how their levels change under physiological and disease states. Dr. Purdy passed away in September 2012, but scientists all over the world will always be grateful for his pioneering work on steroid chemistry and for his great enthusiasm in research.