Drug Research

Group 10
Leader: Szilveszter E. Vizi

The main focus of this laboratory is the investigation of the role of nonsynaptic transmission in neural networks. Synaptic communication can primarily be mediated by GABA and glutamate. It is characterised by ligand-gated ion channels with low affinity because transmitters are released in the synapse at extremely high concentrations. The significance of nonsynaptic transmission is demonstrated by the understanding that most medicines used in clinical therapy act on high-affinity, nonsynaptic receptors and transporters (Vizi, 2000). As in the case of the discovery of the nonsynaptic localisation of different receptors, the observation that several transporters are localised extrasynaptically has also helped to change our view of the mechanisms of extrasynaptic transmission (Vizi et al., 2004). Neurochemical and morphological observations have validated that there is a persistent, tonic influence on neuronal activity at the presynaptic level. It has been shown that without synaptic connections, it is still possible to create functional interactions between two neurones that are equipped with different transmitter machineries as long as the target neurons are equipped with receptors sensitive to the transmitter released from another neuron.

This laboratory studies various aspects of nonsynaptic transmission, including the modulatory mechanisms of transmitter release (monoamines, ACh), the effects of stimulation of extrasynaptic receptors, and the role of membrane transporters. In the experimental repertoire available in the lab, high-tech optical techniques (including two-photon imaging) support other techniques ranging from single-channel patch recording to in vivo microdialysis and classical biochemistry.

Excerpt from the Guidebook of the Institute 2015.