Photograph courtesy of "Kevin M. Cox/ The Galveston County Daily News"
Volker Neugebauer, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair
- Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program
- Affiliations: Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology
- Route: 1069, 2.104-D Medical Research Building (MRB)
- Tel: (409) 772-5259
- Fax: (409) 762-9382
- Neugebauer CV
Volker Neugebauer, M.D., Ph.D.
M.D., University of Wuerzburg,
Ph.D. (equivalent, Physiology), University of Wuerzburg, Germany, 1992
Internship, University of Wuerzburg, Germany, 1991-1992
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Physiology, University of Wuerzburg, Germany, 1992-1995
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Pharmacology, UTMB, 1995-1997
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neuroscience, UTMB, 1997-1998
The overall goal of our research is the better understanding of brain functions and dysfunctions in affective and cognitive behavior and disorders. The focus is on the systems and cellular neurobiology of the emotional-affective component of pain. Pain research is particularly attractive because of its clinical significance and usefulness as a basic science approach to study higher brain functions. Persistent pain has a strong emotional component and can lead to depression and anxiety. Conversely, patients suffering from depression and anxiety experience pain more strongly and are more likely to develop chronic pain. Positive emotional-affective states as created in music therapy can relieve pain. Pain is also known to impair cognitive functions such as decision making. We have identified the amygdala and its interactions with prefrontal cortical areas as a key player in the emotional-affective and emotion-based cognitive dimensions of pain.
Ongoing projects use an integrative approach of systems and cellular electrophysiology, behavior and pharmacology to determine the role of the amygdala and its interactions with the prefrontal cortex (upstream) and spinal cord (downstream) in pain. A patented computerized vocalization analysis system allows the study of nociceptive and affective pain behavior. Visceromotor responses serve as pseudo-affective measures. Anxiety-like behavior is analyzed in the elevated plus-maze test. A novel cognitive behavioral test determines emotion-based decision-making. Pharmacological and electrophysiological changes in the amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex and spinal cord are measured using extracellular single-cell recordings at the systems level and whole-cell patch-clamp and imaging in slice preparations.
Recent collaborative research projects include mechanisms of cognitive dysfunctions related to Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Long-term potentiation is measured in the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in different animal models.
Martin, Z.S., Neugebauer, V., Dineley, K.T., Kayed, Zhang, W., R., Reese, L.C. and Taglialatela, G. Alpha synuclein oligomers oppose long-term potentiation and impair memory through a calcineurin-dependent mechanism: relevance to human synucleopathic diseases. J. Neurochem. 120:440-452, 2012.
Ji, G. and Neugebauer, V. Pain-related deactivation of medial prefrontal cortical neurons involves mGluR1 and GABAA receptors. J. Neurophysiol. 106:2642-2652, 2011.
Sun, H. and Neugebauer, V. mGluR1, but not mGluR5, activates feed-forward inhibition in the medial prefrontal cortex to impair decision-making. J. Neurophysiol. 106:960-973, 2011.
Li, Z., Ji, G. and Neugebauer, V. Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species are activated by mGluR5 through IP3 and activate ERK and PKA to increase excitability of amygdala neurons and pain behavior. J. Neurosci. 31:1114-1127, 2011.
Ren, W., Palazzo, E., Maione, S. and Neugebauer, V. Differential effects of mGluR7 and mGluR8 activation on pain-related synaptic activity in the amygdala. Neuropharmacology 61:1334-1344, 2011.
Tappe-Theodor, A., Yu, F., Kuner, R. and Neugebauer, V. Homer1a signaling in the amygdala counteracts pain-related synaptic plasticity, mGluR1 function and pain behaviors. Mol. Pain 7:38-43, 2011.
Ji, G., Sun, H., Fu, Y., Li, Z., Pais-Vieira, M., Galhardo, V. and Neugebauer, V. Cognitive impairment in pain through amygdala-driven prefrontal cortical deactivation. J. Neurosci. 30: 5451–5464, 2010.
Ji, G. and Neugebauer, V. Reactive oxygen species are involved in group I mGluR-mediated facilitation of nociceptive processing in amygdala neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 104:218-229, 2010.
Dineley, K.T., Kayed, R., Neugebauer, V., Fu, Y., Zhang, W., Reese, L.C. and Taglialatela, G. Amyloid beta oligomers impair fear conditioned memory in a calcineurin-dependent fashion in mice. J. Neurosci. Res. 88:2923-2932, 2010.
Andrade, A.J., Kato, A., Witschi, R., Nyilas, R., Katona, I., Freund, T.F., Watanabe, M., Filitz, J., Koppert, W., Schuttler, J., Ji. G., Neugebauer, V., Marsicano, G., Lutz, B., Vanegas, H., Zeilhofer, H.U. Spinal endocannabinoids and CB1 receptors mediate C-fiber-induced heterosynaptic pain plasticity. Science 325:760-764, 2009.
Ji, G. and Neugebauer, V. Hemispheric lateralization of pain processing in amygdala neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 102:2253-2264, 2009.
Neugebauer, V., Galhardo, V., Maione, S. and Mackey, S.C. Forebrain pain mechanisms. Brain Rev. 60:226-242, 2009.
Fu, Y. and Neugebauer, V. Differential mechanisms of CRF1 and CRF2 receptor functions in the amygdala in pain-related synaptic facilitation and behavior. J. Neurosci. 28:3861-3876, 2008.
Ji, G. and Neugebauer, V. Pro- and anti-nociceptive effects of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in central amygdala neurons are mediated through different receptors. J. Neurophysiol. 99:1201-1212, 2008.
Ji, G., Fu, Y., Ruppert, K.A. and Neugebauer, V. Pain-related anxiety-like behavior requires CRF1 receptors in the amygdala. Mol. Pain 3:13-17, 2007.
Han, J.S., Li, W. and Neugebauer, V. Critical role of CGRP1 receptors in the amygdala in synaptic plasticity and pain behavior. J. Neurosci. 25:10717-10728, 2005.
Bird, G.C., Lash, L.L., Han, J.S., Zou, X., Willis, W.D. and Neugebauer, V. PKA-dependent enhanced NMDA receptor function in pain-related synaptic plasticity in amygdala neurons. J. Physiol. 564.3:907-921, 2005.
Neugebauer, V., Li, W., Bird G.C. and Han, J.S. The amygdala and persistent pain. Neuroscientist 10: 221-234, 2004.
Neugebauer, V., Li., W., Bird, G.C., Bhave, G. and Gereau, R.W. Synaptic plasticity in the amygdala in a model of arthritic pain: differential roles of metabotropic glutamate receptors 1 and 5. J. Neurosci. 23:52-63, 2003.