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Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at the University of Bordeaux (Oct. 2015 -- Dec. 2019)

Technician in Imaging Facility and Luo Minmin lab at National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, China (Dec. 2011 --Oct. 2015)

Undergraduate in Biological Engineering at Agricultural University of Hebei, China (Sep. 2007-- Jun. 2011)

Expertise: CB1, neural circuit, fear, anxiety, appetite

Zhe Zhao completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Giovanni Marsicano at the Neurocentre Magendie (INSERM, University of Bordeaux). During his thesis he focused on the role of the type-1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) in the control of water intake, and found that this receptor, expressed on the neurons of the anterior cingulate cortex regulates drinking behavior. His findings were published in Current Biology in 2020.

Zhe is now a postdoctoral researcher under the mentorship of Anna Beyeler. Through a collaboration with the Marsicano lab, they decided to further dissect the neural circuit mechanisms controlling thirst by focusing on synaptic plasticity and the endocannabinoid system within the insular cortex.

3 publication(s) depuis Novembre 2017:

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Les IF indiqués ont été collectés par le Web of Sciences en

30/09/2020 | Curr Biol   IF 9.6
A Novel Cortical Mechanism for Top-Down Control of Water Intake.
Zhao Z, Soria-Gomez E, Varilh M, Covelo A, Julio-Kalajzic F, Cannich A, Castiglione A, Vanhoutte L, Duveau A, Zizzari P, Beyeler A, Cota D, Bellocchio L, Busquets-Garcia A, Marsicano G

Water intake is crucial for maintaining body fluid homeostasis and animals' survival [1-4]. In the brain, complex processes trigger thirst and drinking behavior [1-5]. The anterior wall of the third ventricle formed by the subfornical organ (SFO), the median preoptic nucleus, and the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT) constitute the primary structures sensing thirst signals and modulating water intake [6-10]. These subcortical regions are connected with the neocortex [11]. In particular, insular and anterior cingulate cortices (IC and ACC, respectively) have been shown to receive indirect innervations from the SFO and OVLT in rats [11] and to be involved in the control of water intake [12-15]. Type-1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1) modulate consummatory behaviors, such as feeding [16-26]. However, the role of CB1 receptors in the control of water intake is still a matter of debate [27-31]. Here, we show that endogenous activation of CB1 in cortical glutamatergic neurons of the ACC promotes water intake. Notably, presynaptic CB1 receptors of ACC glutamatergic neurons are abundantly located in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), a key area in the regulation of water intake. The selective expression of CB1 receptors in the ACC-to-BLA-projecting neurons is sufficient to stimulate drinking behavior. Moreover, chemogenetic stimulation of these projecting neurons suppresses drinking behavior, further supporting the role of this neuronal population in the control of water intake. Altogether, these data reveal a novel cortico-amygdalar mechanism involved in the regulation of drinking behavior.

18/08/2020 | Cell Rep   IF 8.1
Specific Hippocampal Interneurons Shape Consolidation of Recognition Memory.
Oliveira da Cruz JF, Busquets-Garcia A, Zhao Z, Varilh M, Lavanco G, Bellocchio L, Robin L, Cannich A, Julio-Kalajzic F, Leste-Lasserre T, Maitre M, Drago F, Marsicano G, Soria-Gomez E

A complex array of inhibitory interneurons tightly controls hippocampal activity, but how such diversity specifically affects memory processes is not well understood. We find that a small subclass of type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R)-expressing hippocampal interneurons determines episodic-like memory consolidation by linking dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) signaling to GABAergic transmission. Mice lacking CB1Rs in D1-positive cells (D1-CB1-KO) display impairment in long-term, but not short-term, novel object recognition memory (NOR). Re-expression of CB1Rs in hippocampal D1R-positive cells rescues this NOR deficit. Learning induces an enhancement of in vivo hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), which is absent in mutant mice. CB1R-mediated NOR and the associated LTP facilitation involve local control of GABAergic inhibition in a D1-dependent manner. This study reveals that hippocampal CB1R-/D1R-expressing interneurons control NOR memory, identifying a mechanism linking the diversity of hippocampal interneurons to specific behavioral outcomes.

11/2017 | Nat Neurosci   IF 17.8
Synapse-specific astrocyte gating of amygdala-related behavior.
Martin-Fernandez M, Jamison S, Robin LM, Zhao Z, Martin ED, Aguilar J, Benneyworth MA, Marsicano G, Araque A

The amygdala plays key roles in fear and anxiety. Studies of the amygdala have largely focused on neuronal function and connectivity. Astrocytes functionally interact with neurons, but their role in the amygdala remains largely unknown. We show that astrocytes in the medial subdivision of the central amygdala (CeM) determine the synaptic and behavioral outputs of amygdala circuits. To investigate the role of astrocytes in amygdala-related behavior and identify the underlying synaptic mechanisms, we used exogenous or endogenous signaling to selectively activate CeM astrocytes. Astrocytes depressed excitatory synapses from basolateral amygdala via A1 adenosine receptor activation and enhanced inhibitory synapses from the lateral subdivision of the central amygdala via A2A receptor activation. Furthermore, astrocytic activation decreased the firing rate of CeM neurons and reduced fear expression in a fear-conditioning paradigm. Therefore, we conclude that astrocyte activity determines fear responses by selectively regulating specific synapses, which indicates that animal behavior results from the coordinated activity of neurons and astrocytes.